Today is February 20, 2021. It’s the 20th day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.
Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:
- Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
- America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
- Black art matters.
- Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.
After coming across an Instagram post that mentioned Woodstock, I immediately thought of the 1970 documentary film on the legendary three-day music festival, appropriately named after the festival. Out of many highlights, my mind’s eye turned to Sly and The Family Stone, whose performance in the film is electrifying — and electrifying in a way that brings Otis Redding at Monterrey Pop Festival and James Brown on T.A.M.I. Show to mind.
The live footage above should remind you of a few things:
- Sly and The Family Stone are a vision of the future: the band featured men and women, Black people and white people and anyone else, who could sing and play — having fun and just accepting everyone else for being themselves. We should be working towards that world right now!
- There was maybe a 5-7 year period where Sly and The Family Stone may have been one of the best bands in the entire world.