Music Freedom Songs in Black History Month – Arts & Culture



To commemorate the struggles of the African American community in their quest for equal rights in the United States, the country dedicated the month of February of each year to remember their bravery.

Americans celebrate Black History Month in February. During this time, the United States celebrates the history and journey of the African American people in their quest for equality and civil rights.

One of the most significant ways of their success has been music. Black music of all kinds from the 1940s to the 1960s shaped the mindset of black and white communities, helping to extend their faith and hope for a better life in the United States.

Jazz singer Artidewi is an Indonesian artist who has managed to convey a deep understanding and knowledge of the roots of black music. Having learned firsthand the context of black music in the United States, she projects an obvious love for artists such as Aretha Franklin and Erykah Badu into her own music.

Artidewi’s first exposure to black music was during her school years when she began listening to artists like Al Jarreau and Franklin. It was during her college days in Tallahassee, Florida that she began to learn about the black music of the community there.

“It was when I was living with a black family that took me in at the time, and they showed me all kinds of black music and told me a lot about its history. That’s where it comes from. ‘deepest love for music,’ she said during her recent Black History Month presentation at the @america cultural center in Pacific Place in Jakarta.

It was then that she realized the importance of understanding the context of black music in order to appreciate it on a more meaningful level.

Much of African American music is deeply marked by feelings of pain as well as hope and love for one another, and black music classics often convey themes of identity, liberation, history and the desire and the right to live in peace.

Artidewi, who herself can pose as a physical and musical mold of British singer Corrine Bailey Rae, began her set with an intro awash in church organ touches, evoking the quintessential and distinctive sounds of the church-based African-American gospel music. .

For African Americans, the church is considered central in shaping their music.

Engaged: Artidewi interacts with the audience during his recent performance at @america. (JP / Adeline Sunarjo)

Oberlin College American ethnomusicologist Professor Fredara Mareva Hadley said the church was considered one of the largest conservatories of black music, due to the musical and rhythmic nature of religious worship in churches. black.

The presence of rhythmic choirs and interactive sermons as well as instruments in the church was found to be central in the development of rhythm and blues (R&B) and soul, genres associated with many black artists.

“The people who played instruments in church inspired many others, usually the younger parishioners, to save, buy and learn their own instruments, passing on their musical knowledge to generations,” she said. explained during a conference call at the event.

Stretching outside the hopeful environment of the church, black music was heavily shaped by the black experience of living in a highly discriminatory country in the United States in the 20th century. The songs Artidewi sang that night were mostly classic black songs created in the 1950s and 1960s, some of which were foundational songs in African American culture and the civil rights movement as a whole.

Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” was part of his set and, with messages of liberation and hope, it was a very important song during the civil rights movement.

The phrase “I know a change will come, oh yes it will come” was then an expression of hope for a better future.

Artidewi also delivered an emotional rendition of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”, an incredibly dark song about the lynching culture to which African Americans were brutally subjected by many of their white neighbors, mostly in the southern United States. .

At the time, black people were subjected to brutal acts of discriminatory self-defense justice, such as mob-led hangings, whether or not they were guilty of a crime.

The lynching was just one of many atrocities committed against black people, but it had an incredibly devastating psychological impact due to the message that the life, actions and opinions of a black person were seen as worthless. .

The heavyweight behind classical black music is somewhat present in almost all of the music of black artists today, as it is the emotional impact of music from the past that enables many artists today. now to live a successful life in a much more tolerant America. Black songs that celebrate life and lifestyles today offer a glimpse into all that African Americans have accomplished over the past century.

In order to appreciate this heritage, Artidewi said it is important for Indonesian black music fans to understand the context of the music they love.

“The roots of black music are spiritual. I think it’s important to learn the history and understand where they can put that kind of soul and heart in their music. Thanks to this we can understand [African-American] culture more deeply and appreciate it more fully, ”she said.


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