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What to Read & Watch This Black Music Month

What to Read & Watch This Black Music Month
June 11, 2021

American music is influenced completely by Black artists who have shaped and led the progression of the music we enjoy today. Every genre you know has been shaped or started by Black voices, and Black Music Month is the perfect occasion to learn about them. Check out the list below for informative and entertaining books and movies about Black American artists past and present.

THE BOOKS

Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Ben Greenman

A punch-drunk memoir in which everyone's favorite Questlove, member of The Roots and the ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ band leader, tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world.

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Becoming Beyoncé: The Untold Story, J. Randy Taraborrelli

Beyoncé began her career at the age of eight performing in pageants and talent shows. At 16, she had her first #1 record, and at 33, she was first on the Forbes lists of the most wealthy celebrities. This is the story of the struggle and sacrifice required to succeed in the music industry.

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Decoded, Jay Z

A collection of lyrics and their meanings that tell the story of a culture, art form, and the moments in history that gave us one of the most successful artists of our time.

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The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History From Africa to the United States, Samuel A Floyd, Jr

Inspired by the works of Sterling Stuckey and Henry Louis Gates Jr., Floyd links the music, myths, and rituals of Africa to the profound contributions of black people to music in America.

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The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, RJ Smith

The definitive biography of The Godfather of Soul, the musical genius who influenced music through his reinvention of funk, soul, R&B, and pop.

BUY THE BOOK

THE MOVIES

My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women and Hip Hop

Directed and executive produced by Ava DuVernay, this film is a provocative, straightforward commentary on hip-hop, from the perspective of the women inside the industry.

“What Happened, Miss Simone?”

With archival footage and recordings, this documentary gives audiences a never-before-seen look at the life and story of activist and singer, Nina Simone.

Bessie

This gorgeous film shows the life of Bessie Smith, an American blues singer who rose to fame in the 20s and 30s with the help and guidance of Ma Rainey.

Ray

A biographical musical about the unforgettable life of Ray Charles. Grab. The. Tissues.

Tupac: Resurrection

A revealing documentary about the life and death of Tupac Shakur, narrated by Tupac himself.

The Apollo

The internationally-acclaimed Apollo Theater offered its stage to new talent to be seen and served as a launchpad for countless Black artists. Learn more about the venue in this new documentary from HBO.

Head to the listening room next week for special Black Music Month performances from independent artists!