From the field holler to hip-hop African American musicians have created a musical expression known the world over for its passion, power, and soul. These elements, stamped with the DNA of the Black experience, have been combined to create a mélange of styles that have provided the soundtrack for the Africans struggle for freedom in America from the street to the concert hall. With a birds-eye view we sample how the musical work of Black Americans in jazz, soul music, hip hop and concert music has told the story of an existence wrought from centuries of sorrow.


List of Albums, songs/compositions, and Artists:

The McIntosh County Singers
     Pharaohs host got lost (Slave shout song recorded in 1984))

Blind Willie Johnson
     Dark Was the Night, Cold was the Ground (1927)

Ellington (4/29/1899-5/24/1974)
   Black & Tan Fantasy (1927)
   Black, Brown, & Beige (1958)
   My People (1963)*

Archie Shepp (b. 5/24/1937)
   Fire Music (1965)
   Attica Blues (1972)

Coltrane (9/23/1926-7/17/1967)
   Africa Brass (1961)
   Live At Birdland (1964)* Alabama
   A Love Supreme (1965)

Joe Henderson (4/24/1937-6/30/2001)
   Power To The People (1969)* Afro-Centric
   In The Pursuit of Blackness (1971)
   Black Is The Color (1972)

Pharaoh Sanders (b. 10/13/40)
   Tauhid (1966)
   Black Unity (1971)*

Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker (8/29/1920) & John Birkes ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie (10/21/1917-1/6/1993)
   Salt & Peanuts (1943)*
   Now’s The Time (1945)

Max Roach (1/10/1924-8/16/07)
   We Insist: Freedom Now Suite (1960)
   Percussion Bittersweet (1961)
   It’s Time (1962)
   Members Don’t Get Weary (1968)
   Lift Every Voice (1971)*

Charles Mingus (4/22/1922-1/5/1979)
   Mingus Ah Um (1959)
   Blues & Roots (1960)
   Black Saint & The Sinner Lady (1963)

Sonny Rollins (b. 9/7/1930)
   Freedom Suite (1958)

McCoy Tyner (b. 12/11/1938)
   Expansions (1968)
   Extensions (1970)
   Asante (1970)
   Sahara (1972)
   Enlightenment (1973)

Wynton Marsalis (b. 10/18/1961)
   Black Codes (1985)
   Blood On The Fields (1999)

Yusef Lateef (10/9/1920-12/23/2013)
   The African American Epic Suite (1996)

Jackie McLean (5/17/1931-3/31/2006)
   Let Freedom Ring (1962)
   It’s Time (1964)
   New & Old Gospel (1967)

Albert Ayler (7/13/1936-11/25/1970)
   Swing Low, Sweet Spiritual (1964)
   Spiritual Unity (1964)

Randy Weston (b. 4/6/1926)
   African Cookbook (1969)
   Spirit! The Power of Music (2003)

Mark Lomax, II (b. 1979)
   Isis & Osiris (2014)
   Sankofa (2014)
   The State of Black America (2010)

James Brown (5/3/1933-12/25/2006)
   Say It Loud - I’m Black & I’m Proud (1968)

Stevie Wonder (b. 5/13/1950)
Playlist Links
   Talking Book (1972)
   Innervisions (1973)
   Songs In The Key Of Life (1976)

Curtis Mayfield (6/3/1942-12/6/1999)
Playlist Links
   Curtis (1970)
   Roots (1971)

Marvin Gaye (4/2/1939-4/1/1984)
   What’s Going On (1971)

Aretha Franklin (b. 3/25/1942)
   Respect (I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You, 1967)

Earth, Wind, & Fire (Est. 1970)
   Spirit (1976)

Donny Hathaway (10/1/1945-1/13/1979)
   Someday We’ll All Be Free (Extension Of A Man, 1973)

Isaac Hayes (8/20/1942-8/10/2008)
   Black Moses (1971)

War (Est. 1969)
   The World Is A Ghetto (1972)

Ray Charles (business as well as music) (9/23/1930-6/10/2004)
   Genius Hits the Road (1960)

KRS-One (b. 8/20/1965)
   Sound of Da Police (Return Of The Boom Bap, 1993)
   Free Mumia (KRS-ONE, 1995)
   Spiritual Minded (2002)

Public Enemy (Est. 1982)
   It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (1988)
   Fight The Power (1989)
   Fear Of A Black Planet (1990)
   Revolverlution (2002)
   How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul (2007)

Arrested Development (Est. 1991)
   3 Years, 5 months & 2 Days In The Life Of… (1992)
   Extended Revolution (2003)

John Robinson (4/12/1976)
   Elevation (2008)

Prince Po (b. 1969)
   Prettyblack (2006)
   Animal Serum (2014)

Dead Prez (Est. 1996)
   Let’s Get Free (2000)
   Revolutionary But Gangsta (2004)

Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) (12/11/1973)
   Black On Both Sides (1999)
   The New Danger (2004)

A Tribe Called Quest (Est. 1985)
   Low End Theory (1991)
   Beats, Rhymes & Life (1996)

Black Sheep (Est. 1989)
   From The Black Pool of Genius (Dres solo album, 2010)

William Grant Still (1895-1978)
   Afro-American Symphony (1930)

T.J. Anderson (8/17/1928)
   In Memoriam Malcolm X Voice and orchestra (Symphony of the New World, 1974)

William Banfield (3/23/1960)
   Luyala (2000)

Dorothy Rudd Moore (b. 6/4/1940)
   Frederick Douglas (Trilogy: An Opera Company, 1985)

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (6/14/1932-3/9/2004)
   Calvary (1951)

   Blues Forms for Solo Violin (1990)

Michael Raphael (unknown)
   Emmitt Till (Triology: An Opera Company, 2008)

Hale Smith (6/29/25-11/24/09)
   Ritual & Incantation (1974)

Undine Smith Moore (8/25/1904-2/6/1989)
   Scenes from the Life of a Martyr (1980)

Anthony Davis (2/20/1951)
   X: The LIfe and Times of Malcolm X  (1992)

Cedric Adderley
   Were You there (2012)

Olly Wilson (b. 9/7/1937)
   Shango Memory (1995)

Evelyn Simpson-Currenton (b. 1953)
   The Voices Of Freedom (2013)

George Walker (b. 6/27/1922)
   Lilacs (1996, Pulitzer 1996)

Adolphus Hailstork (b. 4/17/1941)
   Epitaph For A Man Who Dreamed (1979)

Shawn E. Okpebholo (b.1981)

1) Abrams, Andrea C. God and Blackness: Race, Gender, and Identity in a Middle Class Afrocentric Church. New York: New York University Press, 2014.

2) Bebey, Francis. African Music a People's Art. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1999.

3) Floyd, Samuel A. The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

4) Sertima, Ivan, ed. Golden Age of the Moor. New Brunswick, U.S.A.: Transaction Publishers, 1992.

5) Sertima, Ivan. They Came before Columbus. New York: Random House, 1976.

6) Wise, Raymond. “Defining African American Gospel Music by Tracing its Historical and Musical Development from 1900 to 2000.” PhD diss., The Ohio State University, 2002.