That’s because we did not set out to make Black music. We set out to make quality music that everyone could enjoy & listen to. -Smokey Robinson
June is the celebration of Black music, which was deemed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Vibe magazine recited the history even further: Philadelphia singer, songwriter & producer Kenny Gamble traveled to Nashville, where he saw the evolution of the Country Music Association.
“Initially, Black Music Month started as an economic program more than anything else,” Kenny Gamble said in an interview with his ex-wife and co-founder of Black Music Month, radio personality Dyana Williams. “The CMA had worked to establish October as Country Music Month, so we picked June as a time where we could concentrate on recognizing and celebrating the economic and cultural power of Black music and those who made and promoted it. The slogan we came up with was, ‘Black Music Is Green’ – it was about economics. So, in an effort to galvanize, as well as create an advocacy entity, Black Music Month was born.”
Gamble was inspired to create something similar for black music, and partnered with Ed Wright, the head of NATRA (The National Association of TV and Radio Announcers) to create the Black Music Association (BMA) with the mission to “preserve, protect and perpetuate black music.”
The BMA was established officially in 1978, where several musicians and producers became the founding members of the organization. One of those members includes Nashville music producer, Dick Griffey, who played a major role in developing a funk-oriented blend of disco, R&B, and soul music.
Today, Black Music Month still inspires & uplifts U.S. citizens. In his 2016 proclamation, President Barack Obama noted that African-American musicians have helped the country “to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.”
As Essence magazine explained, Black Music Month is bigger than a celebration; it’s education, history and the historical receipts of our cultural contributions to this country. We celebrate the holiday by listening to some of our favorite music from our favorite southern gents & belles.