African Americans in Music

  • Minstrel Shows

    Minstrel Shows
    Minstrel shows, which was also known as minstrelsy, was a form of entertainment using skits, acts, dancing, and music. These skits were done by white people, acting as black people. They were meant to poke fun at African Americans. In the northern states the skits went to the extent of playing out scenerios in which freed blacks failed in society. More info on minstrel shows
  • The Bible becomes song

    The Bible becomes song
    While African Americans were enslaved, they were not allowed to sing, dance, or drum like they had been before in Africa. So, they would have secret meetings known as "spirituals", that allowed them to share their joys and sorrows, through song and dance. As time went on, in rural areas, African American slaves began to sing outside the churches. Even today spirituals are still sung. More info on Negro Spirituals
  • Negro Spirituals becomes a profession

    Negro Spirituals becomes a profession
    The first Fisk Jubilee group was organized in 1871 to tour and raise funds for their college. These ensembles sang Negro Spirituals as a capella group. Just like Negro Spirituals, Fisk Jubilee singers are still making music today. More info on Fisk Jubilee Singers
  • Buddy Bolden organizes first band in New Orleans

    Buddy Bolden organizes first band in New Orleans
    Rag-time, which later became known as jazz, was what Buddy Bolden was all about. Buddy originated in New Orleans. Buddy played the cornet, and later became known as "King Jazz". He left no surviving records, but we do know that he was very well known for his improv. More info on Buddy Bolden
  • William Christopher Handy gives rise to classic blues era

    William Christopher Handy gives rise to classic blues era
    William Christopher Handy, also known as M.C. Handy, was a blues artist and a muscian. He was known as the "Father of Blues". Handy gave blues of his time a more contemporary sound. This blew up the blues scene, that had been underground up until now. He played the piano, trumpet, cornet, and sang. More info on M.C. Handy
  • Charles Tindley becomes first black gospel composer to be published

    Charles Tindley becomes first black gospel composer to be published
    Charles Tindley was an American Methodist minister and a gospel music composer. Tindley was edcuated by himself and organized and lead one of the largest Methodist Churches on the East Coast of the United States, that serves African Americans. More info on Charles Tindley
  • Marnie Smith becomes the first African American to sell over 250,000 copies

    Marnie Smith becomes the first African American to sell over 250,000 copies
    Marnie Smith was the first African American woman to sell over 250,000 copies of her hit album. She was known for her contribution to modern blues. More info on Marnie Smith
  • Chuck Berry helped shape rock and roll

    Chuck Berry helped shape rock and roll
    Chuck Berry is known as a pioneer for rock and roll. He played guitar, was a singer, and a songwriter. His music was modern for his time. He took rythm and blues and redefined them into major elements that made rock and roll distinctive. He wrote lyrics that were about teen life and consumerism. He utilized guitar solos and was a major influence in the rock and roll we know today
    More information about Chuck Berry
  • Saxophonits Miles Davis becomes jazz giant

    Saxophonits Miles Davis becomes jazz giant
    MIles Davis was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. By many Davis is known as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Davis was induced in the rock and roll hall of fame in 2006. More info on Miles Davis
  • Lorraine Hansberry is the first African American woman to be produced on broadway

    Lorraine Hansberry is the first African American woman to be produced on broadway
    Lorraine Hansberry was a famous playwright. Not only was she huge on broadway but also was very much into feminism at her time. She tackled such issues as abortion, discrimination, and Africa. More info on Lorraine Hansberry
  • Motown records is founded in Detriot

    Motown records is founded in Detriot
    Motown records was originally founded by Berry Gordy. More info on Motown Records
  • Aretha Franklin becomes the "Queen of Soul"

    Aretha Franklin becomes the "Queen of Soul"
    Aretha Franklin is an American singer and songwriter, and also a pianist. She is known as the "Queen of Blues", but was also very influential in jazz, blues, R&B, gospel, and rock. She was voted number one by Rolling Stones, "Top 100 singers of all time." More info on Aretha Franklin
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience

    The Jimi Hendrix Experience
    Jimi Hendrix was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is widely thought of as the best elecric guitarist of all time. What can be said though, is that he was definately one of the most influential musicians in his era. More info on Jimi Hendrix
  • Sugar HIll becomes the first commericial rap hit

    Sugar HIll becomes the first commericial rap hit
    Sugar HIll, or "Sugar HIll Gang", as they were known at the time, released their first record, "Rapper's Delight" and it was an overnight hit. It was the first hip-hop record to make it on the top 40. More info on Sugar Hill Gang
  • Michael Jackson's Thriller

    Michael Jackson's Thriller
    Known as the "King of Pop", MIchael Jackson is the most successful entertainer of all time. His contribution to music, dance, and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. More info on Michael Jackson