By Selina Cerda |Staff Writer|
In this day and age, slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement remain very relevant topics.
However, there are many famous African-American musicians, artists, and authors who aren’t discussed as much in classrooms or covered in the media.
Jazz, a purely American genre, has roots in African-American communities; they are credited with the invention of the drum set.
In 1927, scatting—vocal improvisation with wordless vowels—became a big hit when Louis Armstrong’s music took off.
It is unknown when and where scatting originated, but a popular theory suggests it started moving from artist to artist when they unintentionally forgot the lyrics to their song.
“I don’t know if it was him [Louis Armstrong] who started it but he also scatted and that was pretty cool, the way he used his voice,” said Evar Jimenez.
“He may not have been the first African-American to put it on the radar in that music era, but when I think of famous African-Americans and music, I think about him,” continued Jimenez.
More contemporary artists such as Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Wonder have been an inspiration to many African-Americans and music lovers in general, setting an example that anything is possible.
For example, Michael Jackson’s dance moves, such as the “moon walk,” have left a lasting impression on many aspiring professional dancers.
Recently, at the 2015 Grammy Awards, Stevie Wonder was honored as this year’s tribute, celebrating his contributions to the musical world, including singing, songwriting and influencing many people with his multi-instrumental talents.
“It’s amazing that he self taught himself to play so many instruments. He’s like a one man band because not many people know how to play more than one instrument,” said Dara Dunn.
The Harlem Renaissance served as a period of great expansion of the arts for African-Americans.
“First thing that came to mind [of Black History] was the art, the Aspects of Negro Life paintings. Then again, I guess the paintings that I remember specifically reflect the sociopolitical awareness of the movement,” said Mayra Chavez.
Literary works by some of the most prolific American writers shared stories and ideas of unrepresented cultures, worlds, and lifestyles.
Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Wallace Henry Thurman all had unique writing styles, allowing them to share their perspectives of the the world.
They expressed their voices through literary works in a society that wasn’t necessary willing to listen, and still today, their voices are heard, leaving an impression to aspiring younger writers and readers today.
“When I think of Black History Month, I automatically think of Langston Hughes because he is one of my favorite African-American poets during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920’s,” said Omolara Clemons.
Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson—the list goes on extensively—have innovated and influenced in their respective arts that are purely of American inspiration.