June is African-American Music Appreciation Month
The month of June has always been special to me. My mother and one of my sisters were born in June. When my daughter was born, I became a father, and instantly, June became even more special in my life. Now, I’ve added African-American Music Appreciation Month.
It’s the month in the year when the nation and the world pay homage to the proud legacy of African-American musicians.
On June 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter decreed that June would be Black Music Month. That’s what it was originally called until President Barack Obama announced the annual observance under a new title, “African-American Music Appreciation Month.”
But did you know that many of the legendary African-American music icons we salute this month were honored by the Postal Service™ on U.S. postage stamps: Louis Armstrong (1995); Count Basie (1996); Eubie Blake (1995); Nat King Cole (1994); John Coltrane (1995); Duke Ellington (1986); W.C. Handy (1969); Billie Holiday (1994); Mahalia Jackson (1998); and Bessie Smith (1994).
Ray Charles was a singer-pianist beyond category, blind since childhood, who mixed blues, gospel, country, jazz, and soul music in a unique and highly influential pop music style. You might recall actor Jamie Foxx won the Academy Award for his portrayal of the music legend in the movie, Ray.
Miles Davis was in the forefront of jazz musicians for decades, setting trends and exploring musical styles from bebop through cool jazz, fusion and funk.
Considered the greatest rock guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix was one of the most important musicians of the 20th century.
As President Obama stated in his 2014 presidential proclamation, “The influence of African-American artists resounds each day through symphony halls, church sanctuaries, music studios and vast arenas. It fills us with inspiration and calls us to action. This month, as we honor the history of African-American music, let it continue to give us hope and carry us forward — as one people and one Nation.”