The month of June is Black Music Month.
Inspired by Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams Black Music Month honors generations of musician who have cemented culture on society.
Think Nat King Cole, Dorothy Dandridge,Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Al Green, James Brown, Little Richard and continue the journey through George Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Run DMC, Mary J. Blige, Will Smith, Naughty by Nature, Puff Daddy, The Fugees, Jay-Z, Cardi B and beyond.
2020 marks the 41st anniversary of the celebration. Black Music Month was initiated on June 7, 1979 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Former United States President, Barack Obama tweaked the name in 2009 calling it African-American Music Appreciation Month, but the month is still honored both ways.
Earlier this month, I sat down with Dyana Williams, one of the pioneers who co-founded Black Music Month.
Williams has been instrumental in just about every role in music. Williams co-produced the Marian Anderson Awards, in which she orchestrated tributes to Berry Gordy, Jon Bon Jovi, Wynton Marsalis, Patti LaBelle, Gamble & Huff and Kool & the Gang.
Williams has been recognized for her music activism in the White House by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, been featured in the New York Times, spotlighted on CNN’s Headline News as one of the top African American leaders in the country and has also appeared on PBS, MTV and The Tom Joyner Morning Show.
During our discussion she assured me that her visit during the Obama administration was memorable. “We were in the East Room when Obama and our Forever First Lady Michelle Obama came into the room,” she recalled.
“They just walked in and it was a moment to see something that I know my father would never see in his lifetime: a Black President with his beautiful Black First Lady. And they had a big celebration; Queen Lafifah was the host of the event, and that was exciting. So for me, who lobbied and worked very diligently in Congress, in the White House, to get Black Music recognized from the President of the United States as well as Congress that was pretty heady. So those two events come to mind.”
In addition to discussing Black Music Month, we also discussed the opening of the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, Tennessee during Labor Day Weekend.
For those keeping score at home: The museum will showcase more than fifty musical genres that were inspired, created, or influenced by African American culture.
Think Gospel, R&B and hip hop all under one roof. “We will document all of that in the museum and people can go to blackmusicmuseum.org to see,” said Williams.
“I’m really, really proud of this endeavor.”