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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Black women as black history

GRAPHIC: KELLY SMITH 19/THE HAWK
GRAPHIC: KELLY SMITH ’19/THE HAWK

In commemoration of Black History Month, I wanted to look back, but also look forward, at the pivotal role black women have played in mixing and melding different musical genres and even creating their own.

History, especially music history, is overwhelmingly a narrative told by men. Black music history is no different.

Here is a playlist to showcase the ingenuity and the creativity of black women.

“That’s All” by Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “That’s All” is very much her quintessential sound. A gospel singer armed with a six-string, she melded praising the Lord with blues and swing style guitar. Her guitar playing pushed gospel music into the mainstream. Tharpe was an integral part of creating the foundation for the pop-gospel.

“Mississippi Goddam — Live in New York/1964” by Nina Simone

Nina Simone was a revelation. As a jazz pianist and singer, she wrote some of the most gut-wrenching songs. As an activist, she wrote about black pride and black struggle. As “Mississippi Goddam” exemplifies, she also played around with musical genre. With its call-and-response style, it sounds like a jaunty showtune with a blues song’s subject matter.

“On & On” by Erykah Badu

There is no introduction or explanation that can be given for the astral plane travelling, mother of afrofuturistic jazz, neo-soul and R&B fusion. Off of “Baduizm,” “On & On” is the song that you think of when you think of Erykah Badu. “On & On” has this steady beat that reminds you of early hip hop where the DJ would continuously replay the break, but it is smooth like a jazz tune. Badu is ingenuity and creativity personified with the way in which she experiments with sound.

“Solar Plexus” by OSHUN

OSHUN is a fairly new musical duo that pick up the torch that Erykah Badu set ablaze. OSHUN’s “Solar Plexus” is a smooth and distinctly afrofuturistic jam. It is self love and sunflowers rolled into an intoxicating beat. Black women have proven themselves time and time again that they are the future, and OSHUN is a testament to that.

“Nont For Sale” by Sudan Archives

Sudan Archives, a self-taught violin virtuoso, melds together West African and violin plucking with a quintessentially smooth R&B sound. It is a sonic revelation to hear the way in which an artist’s inspirations and differing influences can come together beautifully to create a unique and different sound. “Nont For Sale” is proof of the beautifully precocious and ever-evolving nature of black music.

Follow this link to listen to the playlist on Spotify.

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