Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

100 years of black music

Celebrate the end of Black Music Month with this timeline highlighting over 100 years of music created and produced by influential African-Americans. Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams developed the idea for Black Music Month back in 1979 as a way to annually show appreciate for black music icons. After lobbying, President Jimmy Carter hosted a reception to formally recognize the month. From then on, June became the period to commemorate the greats such as Frankie Lymon, Billie Holiday, and Michael Jackson. The month has grown from small gatherings to large events hosted nationwide. President Obama has since renamed the national observance and has proclaimed it as African-American Music Appreciation Month. Whatever it’s called, the rich legacy of black music will continue to be celebrated every day, all around the world.

Image Credit: Photo of Billie Holiday (c.1948) by Ralph F. Seghers c/o Ken Seghers. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Recent Comments

  1. Raquel

    This was really amazing! Thank you so much. The slideshow was really informative and I loved going through all the slides and watching the videos (one of the early ones didn’t work by the way).

    Please keep doing these timeline slideshows. They are great!

  2. Jim McCabe

    Did I miss something? No Muddy Waters? No Robert Johnson? Howlin’ Wolf? Sonny Boy Williamson? Junior Wells? T-Bone Walker? John Lee Hooker? Blind Lemon Jefferson? Willie Dixon? Without some of these blues giants, this is a crap list.

  3. Terence O'Neill

    I enjoyed your timeline “100 Years of Black Music.” The range of styles is phenomenal! Just one thing – In 1977, Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode” was sent into space, but “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” is a 1927 recording by Blind Willie McTell.” The description makes it sound like they were 2 different records by Berry. See Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Was_the_Night,_Cold_Was_the_Ground

  4. Bedria Sanders

    Thanks for your efforts in documenting the history of African American music. i am the sister of Edward Wright who with Kenny Gamble developed the idea for Black Music Month and made it happen with President Carter. Ms Williams later during Clinton administration lobbied for the proclamation but originally it was Ed and Kenny.

Comments are closed.