Your Favorite Music Would Not Exist Without the Black Community

Lauren D. Williams, Senior Director Strategic Audio + Vertical MktgJun 3, 2020

I don’t even know where to start.

And if I’m being honest, I don’t feel like celebrating much these days. 2020 has been one heartbreak after another. First, we lost NBA legend Kobe Bryant. Then the Coronavirus came hitting the Black Community the hardest. Then Ahmaud Arbery was killed for running. Then Breonna Taylor was killed while being in her own home. Then Christian Cooper was threatened for asking a woman to follow the rules. Then George Floyd was killed for being Black. I am exhausted.

Being Black in America is hard. 155 years after the abolishment of slavery in the United States, we are still fighting racial inequality and disparities. As the Black community organizes together and its allies educate themselves on how to be equipped to step in and speak up, one thing is true: this is the moment to highlight how important the Black community is to this country. And even though I may not feel like celebrating, it is paramount, given the harsh times we are living in, to acknowledge the contributions of Black Americans in this country—especially within music.

Here’s the thing: you love Drake, Vince Staples is your jam, and Beyoncé is your girl. But have you ever taken a second to think about their journey and what their music stands for? While the days of NWA are over, its mission is not. And while you may frequent Hip Hop and Rap stations, the reason you like it is because it’s catchy—but for us, we will never neglect the fact that a lot of our music is born out of years of suffering, pain, and disparity. In fact, Black music is the foundation of American music. It has been shaping art for generations; you don’t get your Elvis Presleys, Hall & Oates, and Ariana Grandes without Jazz from Billie Holiday, gospel from Black Churches (the cornerstone of our community) and Rock & Roll from Little Richard.

Created in 1979 by Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer Kenny Gamble, Cleveland radio DJ Ed Wright, and journalist, documentarian and community activist Dyana Williams, Black Music Month (aka African American Music Appreciation Month) is an annual celebration of African American music in the United States. Today, this month, and always: we need to celebrate the vast and ongoing contributions of Black artists, engineers, and musicians to the music community.

Furthermore, Black Women are the backbone of our community. We are not only mothers, sisters, aunts, and wives, but also nurses and physicians, engineers and musicians, and trailblazers for young Black Women who will face similar trials in the very near future. Everyday, we put on brave faces when our husbands, sons, fathers, brothers and nephews leave the house to go to work, go for a run or even go to the store for fear that something may happen to them because of the color of their skin.

Kali Nicole Gross, Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University, said it best when she stated, "Everyday black women, the poor and working class as well as artists and athletes and black queer women — all have had a profound impact in America, so it’s important to share their stories.” And that is exactly what Pandora Presents Pass The Mic aims to accomplish this month.

As we all observe Black Music Month 2020, approach Juneteenth, and become more aware of the important social movements to combat systemic racism that will undoubtedly shape American history, it is crucial for Pandora to highlight Black women who are making waves in the audio industry and opening up doors for others.

Please explore our Pass The Mic content this month, highlighting Black Women musicians, professors of African American Diaspora and Music Producers and Engineers. If you need more information on how to engage with the most influential audience, please engage with our Pandora for Brands pieces on the Black Audience.

And remember, as advertisers and marketers it’s important for us to continue having conversations with each other in order to make a difference for our consumers. Please visit the educational resources below to learn more about Black Music Month, the contributions Black Women have made to our nation and gain further understanding on racial disparities.

Pass The Mic Articles

Educational Resources

Pandora For Brands Informational Pieces

For more Pandora Presents Pass the Mic content, click here.

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