With lots of talent and little opportunity, Jesus will work it out. Trump would have pissed on it, but Motown and marches brought us out. Berry Gordy and civil rights, and the guts to do what needed to be done got us over. The British Beatles took Black music and sold it. However, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and many other Black groups and singers we listened to over the Car Radios and guys with a desire to impress the girls, got us over.
Talent shows and church music provided the basics for Black music. Berry Gordy was an automotive worker with a passion for music. They all lived in Detroit and gathered at Berry’s house. Ultimately, they were writing and singing songs written by the singers. Berry started recording the songs at his home, and soon they hit the radio.
Many performers today perform on American Idol and other television shows. They provide platforms for new artists. Rap and Hip-Hop performers have found their popularity, singing acapella on street corners, in prisons, and in church. Artists like Aretha Franklin and her father Reverend C. L. Franklin, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and James Cleveland, Mavis Staples and the Staples Singers brought religion out of the Church and into the world. Mahalia Jackson, Kirk Franklin, Andre Crouch, and others were hits in the Gospel world.
Every city in America has its share of Black performers and artists which make up the world of music. Some new Performers make it big, some do not do so well, but they understand that they must keep on trying until they succeed. The musical career of Smokey Robinson started out with a failure. The same song turned to a hit with a different producer.
Black Music involves Blues, Spirituals, Gospel, Jazz, and Rock and Roll. The Philadelphia Sound, The Motown Sound, Mickey Gayton, and even the new Country and Western Sound, all previewed on the famous Soul Train television show. Names like Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five, James Brown, Whitney Houston, all sprung out of the little Black owned Motown record company. Other large well known record companies copied Motown by creating their own Black Music division. They called them BMI and other descriptive names. These companies historically did not sign Black artists, but like Black athletes, Jackie Robinson, and Satchel Page, they were seen as winners. These managers from Capitol, Columbia, Victor, and others came running to sign Black musical genius, often cheating them in the process.
In the Jazz world, bands like King Oliver, Earl Bostic, and Duke Ellington were making their mark in clubs like The Cotton Club, the Sunset Café, the T.O.B.A. (Tough on Black Actors) and the Lincoln Theater. Though treated badly, they persevered and had their own production companies like BLACK SWAN and Brunswick. The HIP HOP generation became famous for selling their productions out of the trunk of their cars, eventually creating their own record companies like BAD BOYS. Again, perseverance paid off. One record company owner sold part of the company for hundreds of millions of dollars. Social Media made it possible for nobodies to do their own music and receive the benefits.
My eldest son started his own music company over twenty-five years ago and became a hometown miracle. Adopting the name, Brother Yusef, the Fat Back Blues Man, he has performed all around the United States and in a number of foreign countries. Proudly he has created a Blues Seminar for youngsters and performs in libraries, schools, parks, and other public facilities. He is available for parties and general appearances. (For information, contact: brotheryusef.com, or 626-353-3505)