Black History Month: Honoring Black Musicians Throughout History

Anyone remotely familiar with modern music history knows that we wouldn’t have music as it is now without the innovations and contributions from African American musicians. In fact, genres like Rock wouldn’t even exist without their efforts. All of the classic rock bands like The Rolling Stones and The Who claim influence from African American Blues singers like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and John Lee Hooker.

While their efforts were eclipsed by their Caucasian counterparts like Pat Boone, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis, those acts wouldn’t have gotten where they were without musicians like Ray Charles and Little Richard paving the way.

Easily the most famous Black musician has got to be Jimi Hendrix, who is often revered as the greatest guitar player of all time. Hendrix was an amazing guitar player, whose talents were unrivaled. His band The Jimi Hendrix Experience became one of the most influential bands in the late 60’s and into the 70’s, with many modern day guitarists claiming inspiration from Hendrix to this day.


Poly Styrene and her band X-Ray Spex

Even the Punk genre came into existence out of African American influence. One of the most favored punk bands of all time is Bad Brains, which consisted solely of African American members. Not to mention X-Ray Spex front woman Poly Styrene kickin’ everyone’s ass with her energetic stage presence.

And what of modern day musicians? They’re not all Rappers and Hip-Hop artists you know. From the esteemed Bassist Victor Wooten, the face-melting guitar talents of Tosin Abasi, and double-threat of pianist and vocalist Alicia Keys, Black musicians continue to play a very influential role in the music world.


So in remembering the amazing Black historical figures like Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman,  Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, and countless others, be sure to take a moment to reflect on the myriad of  wonderful contributions that the African American community have made to the music world. Really take the time to appreciate the fact that your favorite band most likely wouldn’t be where they are without them.

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