Today is the tenth day of Black History Month. I tend to use this time as a way to remind readers – and everyone else of a couple of important facts:
- You can’t love Black artists and their work, and not see them as people
- Black lives — and Black art matters
- Black culture is American culture
So as we go through the month, I’m going to talk about a collection of Black artists. It’ll be fairly comprehensive and eclectic list — although it won’t be a complete list.
So far I’ve mentioned the following artists:
- Patti LaBelle
- Rick James
- John Lee Hooker
- Janet Jackson
- Aretha Franklin
- Chaka Khan
- Sister Rosetta Tharpe
- Curtis Mayfield
- Bob Marley
- J. Dilla
- De La Soul
- Ella Fitzgerald
Yesterday, we lost the legendary Burt Bacharach. Unsurprisingly, his death led me to think of his incomparable and elegant work with Hal David, and the equally incomparable and elegant Dionne Warwick. The three of them wrote and recorded some gorgeous — and absolutely beloved — pop songs.
I’ve said this before but “Walk On By” and “I Say A Little Prayer” are arguably two of the most gorgeous songs ever written and recorded.
My mom had family in Warwick’s hometown of East Orange, NJ. When mom was a girl, she visited East Orange quite a bit. And she often talks wistfully of how at the height of Warwick’s fame and popularity, everyone in town would play the legendary singer’s work with great pride. Black excellence, indeed.