AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 36 YEARS
Black Music is Black Music: Call it that!
by Fred Logan
April 18, 2016
Amiri Baraka said somewhere that, among other things, calling jazz (and other black music) "American" music ignores who created it and the
immense debt, including monies, owed to Black musicians.
If a generic "America' created jazz, then this debt can be belittled and ignored. Baraka said somewhere else that the "music (all black music)
and the people are the same." It is impossible to understand jazz history without understanding African American history, sociology, and aesthetics.
"Pittsburgh" or "the Hill District" did not produce great jazz musicians. Pittsburgh and the Hill District are two small geo-political spots on the map of the world. The Black masses in the Hill and in Pittsburgh created great great black musics and musicians. This is equally true of Harlem, and everywhere else.
Black music did not develop in any of these places until black people came and developed it, wherever.
Decades ago, the renowned African American scholars W.E.B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, and Sterling Brown argued that black music tells the world about black life, and black struggle.
On March 23, Columbia University scholar, Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, led a very important discussion at Pitt. She looked at the life and music of three black female vocalists in the immediate post-1960s era, from the early 1970s to the mid-1970s. And She asked the question, "What does the music of a particular era say about that historical moment?" This is a continuation of DuBois, Brown, Locke and many others.
In this tradition, Rahsaan Roland Kirk calls Black music Black Classical music. We should all call "Black music" "Black music" without a second thought or any apology to anyone. To whom, generic "America?"