What’s New: Behind the Beat

April 26, 2014 – June 6, 2015

“The music was explaining the history as the history was explaining the music.”

Amiri Baraka, Blues People

The history of African American music tells a story deeper than the evolution of rhythmic patterns and vocal styles. It creates a soundtrack for our past. In music, we can hear and feel history through lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. For over 400 years, African Americans have pioneered an abundance of diverse musical styles that influenced, and were influenced by, historical events and cultural trends. From spirituals to the blues, jazz to soul, and funk to hip hop, this music is a narrative about African American history and the American experience. Listen carefully and you will hear the agony of slavery, the frustration of post-Civil War reconstruction, the urban pulse of the Great Migration, the determination of the Civil Rights Movement, and the realities of contemporary life.

What history will you discover behind the beat?