Celebrate Black Music Month

In 1979, at the urging of Kenny Gamble and Dyana Williams, President Jimmy Carter designated June as Black Music Month and hosted the first Black Music Month Celebration on the South Lawn of the White House.

The tradition has continued over the years, though it was not made official until the passage of the 1998 House Concurrent Resolution 27.  In President Obama’s 2009 proclamation, he chose to revise the name to African-American Music Appreciation Month (though we note that the 1998 resolution did refer to African-American Music Month). Regardless, most continue to use the simpler BMM designation.

Following is complete text of Obama’s official 2011 proclamation:

The music of our Nation has always spoken to the condition of our people and reflected the diversity of our Union. African-American musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters have made enormous contributions to our culture by capturing the hardships and aspirations of a community and reminding us of our shared values. During African-American Music Appreciation Month, we honor the rich musical traditions of African-American musicians and their gifts to our country and our world.

From the cadenced hums of spirituals to the melodies of rhythm and blues, African-American music has been used to communicate, to challenge, to praise, and to uplift in times of both despair and triumph. The rhythmic chords embedded in spirituals have long expressed a deep faith in the power of prayer, and brought hope to slaves toiling in fields. The soulfulness of jazz and storytelling in the blues inspired a cultural renaissance, while the potent words of gospel gave strength to a generation that rose above the din of hatred to move our country toward justice and equality for all.

Today, African-American musicians continue to create new musical genres and transform the scope of traditional musical formats. The artistic depth of soul, rock and roll, and hip-hop not only bring together people across our Nation, but also energize and shape the creativity of artists around the world. The contributions of African-American composers and musicians to symphony, opera, choral music, and musical theater continue to reach new audiences and encourage listeners to celebrate fresh interpretations of these and other genres.

In cherished songs passed down through generations and innovative musical fusions crafted today, African-American music continues to transcend time, place, and circumstance to provide a source of pride and inspiration for all who hear its harmonies. This month, we celebrate the legacy of African-American music and its enduring power to bring life to the narrative of our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2011 as African-American Music Appreciation Month. I call upon public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and foster appreciation of music which is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.”

There are far too many Black Music Month event sites to mention, but be sure to look for programs and concerts in your home town and, even more important, support Black artists throughout the year! Also, check out some of the fun facts and features on the following sites:

Radio One has launched a national campaign “It’s All Black Music!” in celebration of African-American Music Appreciation Month. Their website includes the special features 100 Rewarding Moments in Black Music and Black Music Fact of the Day.

Atlantic Records just launched the year long, interactive campaign “I Heart Black Music, which will allow fans access to various digital promotions and content, artist interviews and more.