Music

Composers, musicians, and singers who have contributed to this Black genre.

Ike Turner, soul singer with a hard edge


Ike Turner

Ike Turner was born on this date in 1931. He was an African American musician, bandleader, talent scout, producer, and song writer.

Talented singer Donna Summer born


Donna Summer

Donna Summer was born on this date in 1948. She was an African American singer, songwriter, and artist.

Born in the Dorchester community of Boston, she was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, one of seven children raised by devout Christian parents. She sang in church, and as a teenager joined a rock group called The Crow. At 18, she left home and school to take up a supporting role in the Broadway musical, "Hair." The show moved to Germany shortly afterwards and she eventually became a German resident.

Lucky Dube, a South African Reggae artist


Lucky Dube

*Lucky Dube was born on this date in 1964. He was a Black South African reggae musician.

Lucky Philip Dube was born in Ermelo, then in the Eastern Transvaal, now Mpumalanga. His parents separated before his birth and he was raised by his mother, Sarah. She named him Lucky because she considered his birth fortunate after a number of failed pregnancies. Along with his two siblings, Thandi and Patrick, Dube spent much of his childhood with his grandmother, while his mother relocated to work.

Kanye West , rap artist , hip hop producer born


Kanye West

Kanye West was born on this date in 1977. He is an African American record producer and rapper.

Kanye Omari West was born in Atlanta, GA. His father was Ray West, a former Black Panther who was one of the first Black photojournalists at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; he is now a Christian counselor. His mother is Dr. Donda West. When Kanye was three years old, his parents divorced, and he and his mother moved to Chicago. He was raised in an upper-middle-class family, attending Polaris High School in suburban Oak Lawn, IL.

Bobby McFerrin, The Voice


Bobby McFerrin

*Bobby McFerrin was born on this date in 1950. He is an African American vocalist, musician and composer.

Born to two classical singers in New York City Robert McFerrin Jr. began studying musical theory at age 6, shortly before his family relocated to Los Angeles. The piano was his primary instrument in high school and during his studies at California State University/Sacramento and Cerritos College. After completing his formal education, he began to tour, first with the Ice Follies and then with a series of "Top 40" bands, cabaret acts and dance troupes.

Drummer Max Roach broke new ground in jazz


Max Roach

Max Roach was born on this date in 1924. He was an African American bebop/hard bop percussionist, drummer, and composer.

Roy Brown, a rocker with gospel roots


Roy Brown

*Roy Brown was born on this date in 1925. He was an African American blues musician.

From New Orleans, Louisiana, his mother was an accomplished singer and organist in church. This was instrumental in why Brown started as a gospel singer. After a move to Los Angeles, California in the 1940s and a brief period spent as a professional boxer he won a singing contest in 1945 at The Million Dollar Theater singing "There's No You". In 1946 he moved to Galveston, Texas singing in clubs; he returned to New Orleans in 1947.

Martha Reeves, a Motown Icon


Martha Reeves

Martha Reeves was born on this date in 1941. She is an African American singer, was a city council member, and the lead singer of Martha & the Vandellas.

Born in Eufaula, Alabama, Martha Rose Reeves is the eldest of 11 children born to Elijah Joshua and Ruby Lee Gilmore Reeves. The Reeves family moved to Detroit right after she was born. She was brought up in the church, since her grandfather was a minister at Detroit's Metropolitan Church. She went to Northeastern High School, where she was vocally coached by Abraham Silver.

One of Minnesota's finest, Jimmy Jam Harris


Jimmy Jam Harris

Jimmy Jam Harris was born on this date in 1959. He is an African American musician, songwriter, and music producer.

He was born James "Jimmy Jam" Harris III in Minneapolis, MN. In a South Minneapolis high school, he met Terry Lewis, and the two formed a band called Flyte Tyme, which evolved into The Time. In 1981, they toured with Prince. They were fired from the tour because a blizzard left them unable to rejoin after a short break to produce The SOS Band. However, one of the tracks they were producing, "Just Be Good to Me," became a big hit and established their reputation.

Sweet Honey In The Rock, a voice of consciousness

*On this date in 1973, we celebrate Sweet Honey In The Rock. Founded by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, they are a Grammy Award-winning African American female a cappella ensemble.