As February comes to a close, it feels pertinent to acknowledge that this month was dedicated to celebrating achievements made by black Americans, which is what we intend to do now. They have brought us some of the greatest music. However, it often isn’t recognized as much as white artist’s music. So, in honor of Black History Month and Diversity Week, here are a couple of the artists that changed our music for the better.
Etta James: Etta Jame once said, “My mother always told me, even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of your own to it.” This is the idea that led her to fame. Not only is James now known as one of the best female singers of her time, but also she inspired the entire black community to bring their own individuality to the music world.
Best Songs: At Last, I’d Rather Go Blind, I Just Want To Make Love To You.
Temptations: This group inspired movies like the Five Heartbeats, groups like the Jackson Five and people like Beyonce. The Temptations, a group of five soulful men with equally soulful harmonies, was one of the first groups to put Motown on the map and bring soul and funk to the black community. Even today, groups like Earth, Wind, and Fire credit their music inspiration to this group.
Best Songs: My Girl, Get Ready, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.
Will Smith: Ok, so he’s the Prince of Bel Air. We get it. When you think of Will Smith, you don’t think of his music or Jazzy Jeff, but rather think of his acting in Pursuit of Happyness or Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But here is why we should think of his music without Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff, the rap community may not even exist. The duo revolutionized rap and R&B music into what we know today and made it so popular that the Grammy’s made the Best of Rap category. Without the “Fresh Prince,” music today would not be the same.
Best Songs: Gettin’ Jiggy With It, Men in Black, Miami
Marvin Gaye: A truly charming man, Marvin Gaye once said, “I think I’ve got a real thing going. I love people. I love life, and I love nature, and I can’t see why other people can’t be like that.” As one of the founders of Motown, Gaye’s message of love has been prevalent in all of his R&B songs.
Best Songs: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I Heard it Through the Grapevine, and Let’s Get it On
Jimi Hendrix: Known famously for his revolutionary guitar skills, Jimi Hendrix, a rock legend, excited audiences by providing a new sound. Hendrix was electrifying on stage, gaining quite the following. Two grand performances by him include lighting his guitar on fire at a festival and performing the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock, a symbol of peace amongst the troubling times of black equality and the Vietnam War draftings.
Best Songs: Star Spangled Banner performed at Woodstock, Purple Haze, and All Along the Watchtower
Louis Armstrong: Trumpeter, composer, and singer Louis Armstrong revolutionized the world as one of the first black people to become popular. He popularized jazz music, all while simultaneously making the trumpet the instrument of his time. Armstrong is still known to the black community as one of the greatest musicians to have breathed and has ensured his place as an icon.
Best Songs: Star Dust, La Vie En Rose, and What a Wonderful World
Vanessa Carlton- City Winery- Chicago, IL- Feb 24th- 8:00pm
Bad Suns- The Rave Bar- Milwaukee, WI- March 5th- 7:00 pm
The Japanese House-Bottom Lounge-Chicago, IL-Feb 25th-7:30pm
Devendra Banhart-Thalia Hall-Chicago, IL-March 6th-8:00pm
Panic! At the Disco-Allstate Arena-Rosemont, IL-March 11th-7:00pm
Ariana Grande-United Center-Chicago, IL-March 14th-7:30pm
Regina Spektor-Chicago Theatre-Chicago, IL-March 24th-7:30pm
Lionel Richie with Mariah Carey-United Center-Chicago, IL-March 25th-7:00pm