What do the Rap, Hip Hop, Funk, Soul, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues and Gospel all have in common?
They are all popular genres of music considered to be included under the general African American music umbrella having been influenced by the culture of African Americans. Historically, African American genres of music have been very significant in their affect across a broad range of socio-economic groups within the United States and overseas.
From the early influences on mainstream American music in the 19th century to the popularity today of Hip Hop, Rap and RnB, the influence of African Americans on the American music industry continues with a plethora of successful solo artists and groups maintaining a strong presence in the charts.
Although in earlier years of it’s history, not all African American musicians achieved mainstream success. During the 1950’s Little Richard (Rev. Richard Wayne Penniman) who became an important identity in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll received his first accolade and has continued to achieve extraordinary success and acknowledgement throughout his musical career. In 2007 his original hit “Tutti Frutti” took out first place in Mojo magazine’s poll of “The Top 100 Records That Changed The World.”
Sly and the Family Stone, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, Marvin Gaye, India Arie, Erykah Badu and in particular Destiny’s Child who some years ago became known as the highest selling female vocal group of all time are to name a few of the highly successful African American singers and song-writers. In more recent times Alicia Keys was the first woman to log three weeks at number one with her “As I am” hit and she is the first African American woman to remain at number one for has long as she did since 2002 when Ashanti hit the charts with her debut album.
Expressing themselves and celebrating their culture creatively, spiritually, politically and socially, these and many more talented artists have enhanced the reputation and popularity of the myriad of genres of music that claim their roots in African American music.
Ragtime to Rap, Scott Joplin to Curtis James Jackson 111, aka 50 Cent, the genres of Blues, Jazz, Motown, disco, Funk, Rock and Roll, Hip Hop, Techno and Electric Jazz all increased in popularity for their time and during the 1950’s and more so during the 1970’s African American music was appealing to wider more mainstream audiences including crossover audiences.
Along with the evolution of African American music came the evolution of dance and the introduction of dance, block and rave parties where the Mc’s and the DJ’s themselves have become celebrities in their own rights.
Over decades if not centuries the rising popularity of African American music has bought more attention to African American culture including the landmark signing of legislation in 2003 for the creation and development of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.