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African American Music Culture

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Jose Sanchez        

MUS 25        

Professor Ray Briggs

6 December 2016

African American Music Culture

The beauty of African American music is very interesting. It’s different, but every culture is characterized by their own types of music, clothing, and people. In the African American culture of music, it all began in the nineteenth century. During that time, the Harlem Revolution occurred which created the new types of music such as the blues and jazz for the African Americans. As they had slowly began to gain more freedom, people then, started to create and form different types of music that went from blue and jazz to rap and hip hop that changed drastically in today’s society.

        To begin with, a recent musician artist, Kamasi Wahington, is greatly known for being a saxophonist as of today in African American’s music artistry. Washington’s devotion to music all started in his academic environment. As he transferred to the Hamilton High School Academy, he joined The Multi School Jazz Band (M.S.J.B.), an assembly of the finest young jazz musicians in Los Angeles County and led by Reginald Andrews. He had the opportunity to meet his idols and create relationships with them as he joined this group. According to this he received his first place award. This opportunity led him to being a part of a new group that was called, “The Young Jaz Giants.” Washington then, took it a step further, and took an interest of many other forms of music which was hip hop and ended up playing with some legendary musicians like Snoop Dogg, Raphael Saadiq, and others (Kamasi Washington). The article exposed, “Yet during this time Kamasi despite his newfound respect for all of the forms of music realized that Jazz was still the music that was closest to his heart” (Kamasi Washington).

        Furthermore, another African American, Usher, is one of today’s best r&b music artist. He has several bestselling albums, numerous awards, and his own recording label. Usher was not just an American singer, but also a dancer, actor, and songwriter. In an article, it provides, “Fourteen years later Usher is one of the world’s biggest pop stars, with about 30 million albums sold, numerous Grammys, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame under his belt. And now, at the ripe old age of 28, the man who boldly proclaims his desire to inherit James Brown’s title of “Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” has been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame” (The Rise of the House of Usher). Usher has been successful within his whole career and soon will to be more as of today. Also, Usher also mentions how he is clearly serious about “breaking through the genre’s narrow boundaries and exposing listeners to a sound that combines elements of the past and the present to create a deeper shade of soul that will hopefully lead urban music to a brighter future” (The Rise of the House of Usher). Besides his music career, he had found the New Look Foundation. It focused on developing global youth leaders in recognizing the need for role models and mentors. An article by Mike Green indicates, “Usher’s New Look Foundation is being repeated around the country by a variety of organizations that recognize the dire circumstances facing Black American adults today and the challenges our youth will face tomorrow as both qualified job seekers and job creators in the 21st-century global innovation economy” (Green). 

        Lastly, another African American artist, John Legend is a humble, passionate, and a hard working person in his music industry of success. “Legend's debut album, 2004's Get Lifted, went platinum thanks in part to the hit single "Ordinary People," a song that he originally penned for the Black Eyed Peas. He went home with three Grammy Awards for Get Lifted: for best R&B album, best R&B male vocal performance and best new artist” (John Legend). “In 2015, the songwriter, along with rapper Common, won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song—"Glory"—from the film Selma. The tune also won an Academy Award, with both artists using their Oscar acceptance speeches to highlight contemporary issues that connect to the Civil Rights Movement” (John Legend). John Legend has impacted big African American artist careers as well as for himself each year. As he was progressing to achieve better and better in his career, he was also trying to help make the black community progress and live a better life than previous generations with his music.  In one of his songs, “You and I,” it determines women of all different ethnicities, ages, gender expressions, sexualities, abilities and more. This song shows a great example of a woman’s body positivity and with this being put, it has a problem in today’s lives in which it is hard for men on telling the women. Artists like John Legend, have a great influence on their listeners that can affect people in a lot of positive ways.



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