top of page

Issue 17 Out Now

"Black Music Has Always Been America's Music" It's Our Remedy


© Courtesy National Museum of African American Music


My dad hums when he is met with any physical or mental discomfort and in his words,” it’s soothing”. Similar to chanting or meditating, there is a healing vibration to sound. Whenever there is a discomfort in our bodies or minds, liberation can be found through the act of music. I cannot count the number of times Yolanda Adams, “I’m Gonna Be Ready” played in the hardest moments when everything felt like it was falling apart. Even now, I listen to music to lift my spirits, allowing the voice of the silvery Ella Fitzgerald or raw toned Labrinth to wash over me.

Music within the black community runs deep and is etched in our hearts. It is how we celebrate and worship, but also how we transcend our painful realities and ease our drudgery. Genres like Blues, Jazz, R&B (parent genres to Blues), Hip-Hop, and Gospel were birthed in overcoming hurt and sadness creating a way for bodies that share in the magnificence of blackness to handle their existence in a society that often targets them. Historically, Black Americans have inspired, created, or influenced the musical sphere that we all enjoy today but often are not honored or celebrated. Yet, that ends today because tomorrow is the beginning of a well-deserved celebration.

On Saturday, January 30th in downtown Nashville a cultural attraction surfaces highlighting the often-overlooked contributions of Black American musicians, diving into the musical genres and sub-genres black people have created and impacted. A historical collection spanning 400 years with 7 galleries that capture the era, culture, and sound of the different genres. Beginning with an immersive film in the Roots Theatre and ending in The Message that brings it through to the present exploring how to shift from being unempowered to resilient.

Taking two decades to arrive the first National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) features artists like John Coltrane, Prince, TLC, B. B. King, Nat King Cole, and many more connecting their influence on artists like Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, or Justin Timberlake. Located a few blocks from the Country Music Hall of Fame, a genre often white-washed, Nashville’s music scene has deep black roots with its former Jefferson Street Music District that once was filled with dancing black patrons and performers. With the museum's commitment to educating, they make a point in showing the true legacy of black musicians’ impact locally and globally to dismantle the blurry narrative and replace it with a clearer picture. Like Sharon W. Hurt, a renowned community leader, activist, and councilwoman said at the museum’s ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.


“Black music has always been America’s music… NMAAM will show the world just how true that is,”

The opening of this museum reminds me that music has always served as a remedy to the black community and always will. No matter what life throws, music has always been there to free us. Whenever I need to release what is laying on my heart, I turn off all my lights and light a candle. It does not have to be scented it is mostly for the movement the flame provides as it creates shadows on the wall. Next to my window, I take a seat staring out appreciating the sky. Connecting my phone to a speaker, I play the most beautiful melodies designed to cleanse my heart. Music will always be a remedy and now it can be celebrated.


Resources:


Levius, Travis. “Inside Nashville’S Long-Awaited National Museum Of African American Music”. MSN, 2021, https://www.msn.com/en-us/entertainment/news/inside-nashville-e2-80-99s-long-awaited-national-museum-of-african-american-music/ar-BB1ddPpo. Accessed 30 Jan 2021.

“NMAAM20 — National Museum Of African American Music”. National Museum Of African American Music, 2021, https://nmaam.org/. Accessed 30 Jan 2021.

“Video Tour: National Museum Of African American Music — CNN Video”. CNN, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/videos/travel/2021/01/28/national-museum-of-african-american-music-video-tour-travel-orig.cnn/video/playlists/travel/. Accessed 30 Jan 2021.

Comments


bottom of page