Who gets to be Diana Ross?If you’ve ever let Al Green serenade you out of a bad mood, sang into a hair brush to imitate the Supremes, or sweated out a perfectly coiffed hairdo dancing to Usher, you know the power of black music. (Incidentally, I’ve done all of the above. Carry on.)
In fact, June is Black Music Month, a 31-day dedication to the instrumental, lyrical, rhythmical, and artistic genius black folks have deposited into almost every genre from gospel, rock, hip-hop, and reggae to calypso, R&B, pop, and jazz on over to zydeco, country, and go-go.
Artists have always fed off the creative influences of their predecessors—before the uber talented Alicia Keys debuted, for example, there was the amazing Nina Simone and the incomparable Aretha Franklin. Here are some others who have their foremothers and fathers in music to thank for artistic inspiration: