Opening April 26, 2014
“The music was explaining the history as the history was explaining the music.”
- Amiri Baraka, Blues People
Over the last 400 years, African Americans have pioneered diverse musical styles from spirituals to the blues, jazz to soul, and funk to hip hop. These songs have become the essence of American music. But the history of each genre tells a story deeper than the evolution of rhythmic patterns and vocal styles, it creates a soundtrack for our past. Behind the Beat is an exhibit that connects historical events and cultural trends that influenced–and were influenced by–generations of African American music. Jazz goes hand in hand with the Harlem Renaissance and Motown with the Civil Right Movement. To understand history, you simply have to look Behind the Beat.