I am going to stretch my comfort zone today. I am going to write a post that speaks to and honors Black History Month – February.  I was inspired to do so in light of two events which occurred in my life recently. The first is another post, by my friend Buzz Rooney. Buzz too wrote a post for Black History month, If you have not read it I suggest you read it. The other thing that got me thinking about Black History month was this.

My employer is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. In trying to come up with some clever things to help us celebrate the occasion I searched for what was the popular music of 1932. The top four songs were

  • Night & Day – Fred Astaire & Leo Reisman
  • It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing – Duke Ellington
  • I’ve got the world on a string – Cab Calloway
  • All of Me – Louis Armstrong

To recap these were the top four song in 1932. In case you don’t know three of these artists are black, and one is not. Oddly enough the songs by Duke, Cab and Louie are still going strong today.

This got me to thinking about music and 1932, I took a class in college called Jazz Roots and American Culture. This class really made an impact on me (it was also an easy “A”). What I learned is that so much of what we consider American Music, Jazz, the Blues and Rock and Roll is all based on music from predominately black artists.

They made music in a time when, black musicians or black entertainers, at the clubs, were not allowed to come in the front door. They were made to come in through the kitchen or freight entrances. They were not allow to use the restrooms at the facilities where they performed. But through all of this they continued to practice their craft and make music. This music  has endured well and passed the test of time.

So unless you exclusively listen to Mozart or Beethoven, you owe a tip of the hat to all of the Black Musicians/recording artisits who helped shaped music as we know it today.

Perhaps not a great tribute for Black History month, but not bad for an old white guy whose dad was a racists.   And God Bless Whitney Houston.