Abo the Blogster- Black History Month

February 16, 2015


As we all know, February is Black History Month. Everyone knows the struggles that African Americans have gone through. Music tends to heal a lot of wounds. There have been so many influential African American musicians throughout history. Louis Armstrong to Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry to Jimi Hendrix these musicians were not only great at what they did, they were crucial to their times as people. Everyone needs to have someone to look up too, the same way people saw the way Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball.

Louis Armstrong grew up in New Orleans pre World War I, it was very tough times for African Americans. He persevered and showed people through his music that you can be great. Louis Armstrong is considered by many the greatest jazzist of all time. In 1924, his wife pushed him to join Flethcher Henderson’s orchestra band, New York’s top African American dance band. It shows how it segregated even music was in the 1920’s, that it was an all black dance band. In 1929, he wrote a song called “(What Did I Do) To Be So Black and Blue?” It insinuated on why he’s being punished. He even canceled a tour to the Soviet Union in 1957 after the Little Rock Crisis, when 9 black students were not allowed into a school.

The 1950’s and 1960’s were not any better for musicians. It was bad enough that Berry Gordy started what we know today as Motown. It originally based out Detroit. Many of our greatest musicians’ careers were born through Motown ranging from Stevie Wonder to Michael Jackson.  Stevie Wonder made one of the greatest albums of all time in “Songs in Key of Life”.  He hints at his distaste of what was evolving at the time, especially in the song “Love’s In Need of Love Today.” It is written “It’s that Love’s in need of Love Today, Don’t Delay, Send yours in right away. Breaking many hearts, Stop It Please.” Stevie is showing how hard it is for African Americans, he is crying through his music.

Elvis may be “The King”, but I truly believe Chuck Berry had more of influence on Rock ‘N’ Roll. In 1955, he became the first songwriter/performer in the genre. He was able to write and perform music that were relevant to white people, at the same time, did not push away his black audience. Many groups like the Beatles and Rolling Stones saw Chuck Berry as an influence. Chuck Berry influenced showed people through his music. He was the first major African American Rock N Roll artist to emerge, especially through a difficult time.

Music can be so powerful in so many different ways. Through the decades, we have seen how influential African American musicians can be from Louis Armstrong to Chuck Berry and Stevie Wonder. They spoke to people through their lyrics and music. Chuck Berry got the message through his guitar and Wonder with his words. Music is one of the most positive ways to get a message through. Yes there was Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X with their protests and speeches, but it’s the action of listening and enjoying that has helped people get through difficult times.