Stevie Wonder graphic by Robert Ball
June is Black Music Month. Music is one of the most significant elements of black culture and in addition to being a source of entertainment, has a long history of being utilized to communicate and even be healing.
African villages would use drumming to message each other, and our enslaved ancestors used songs to secretly communicate. And during slavery singing spirituals were a way to express sorrow and joy. As black joy is abundant, music is one of the most important components of celebration, and can also be therapeutic.
The first time I was made aware of music as a healing property is when I heard the story about Michael Jackson reportedly calling Coretta Scott King when she was gravely ill in the hospital. He talked to her about the healing properties of music. I then learned about music therapy and how it is able to:
- Promote Wellness
- Manage Stress
- Alleviate Pain
- Express Feelings
- Enhance Memory
- Improve Communication
- Promote Physical Rehabilitation
I personally use music to manage stress, anxiety and difficult moods. I find that my mental and emotional tension, and therefore sometimes my physical pain can be improved when listening to good music. I personally like legendary artists like Sam Cooke, Nancy Wilson and Eartha Kitt for these moments.
Black artists have created an incredible landscape of music in every genre. So whether you are looking to celebrate, lament, relax or escape, the vast catalog of music from black artists can offer anything you’re looking for. Black Music Month is a great time to explore some black musical artists you may not be familiar with, and also revisit your faves.
Wishing you a great month filled with great music!