What Does Black Music Mean to You?

by Jhanaya Belle

January 20, 2022

Photo by: TV One

Prolific musicians, songwriters and producers who left a phenomenal imprint on “The Soundtrack to Black America” were highlighted at the fourth annual Urban One Honors, and now TV One and CLEO TV are asking celebs and viewers what the phrase means to them. What songs come to mind when you think of it?

Several of this year’s performers, presenters and honorees engaged in the conversation, sharing their definitions. Everyone’s picks ranged from Gospel, to R&B, to Reggae, to Hip-Hop.

The question that kicked off the robust conversation: “How do you think music has impacted the lives of Black people?”

“It’s the drum,” singer Maxwell stated. “It’s a way to join our souls in harmony and be in sound and soul.”

The Grammy Award-winning singer said music not only fills churches and cookouts, but it also fills so much of the community with the hope that we need.

Photo by: Julian Finney/Staff

“One thing that I can tell you about music is that it is a sage. It heals. It brings people together,” he added.

He wrapped up, saying: “I don’t think most of us would have survived most of the crazy things that we’ve experienced over the last 100 years. And definitely, African Americans would have not been able to get through it. We’re not the song and sheer determination and will to survive. It’s completely against us at times. But either way, music has always been a great source of hope. And I can’t tell you how honored I am to be a part of that hope.”

The emperor of sound, Timbaland, also gave his opinion on what Black music means to him.

“Music is music. It’s really no color to it. But Black music was very disruptive. With the Black culture, we put a twist on sonics.”

Photo by: Christie Goodwin/Contributor

He continued to discuss why Verzuz was needed in the culture and the space of Black music.

“We really created a platform that allows people to really like ‘yo I forgot about these records,’ and I thought that was the missing thing in our culture, is celebration. And giving people their flowers while they’re here.”

When Urban One asked DJ Khaled the question, he responded with some hits that can’t be forgotten – including Bob Marley’s “One Love,” Biggie‘s “Juicy” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Gonna Come.”

He expanded: “When I think of Sam Cooke, “A Change is Gonna Come,” it gives me hope. You know what I’m saying, it gives me hope. And that record makes me cry. And I always listen to that record in the studio by myself, just to give me hope. You know what I’m saying, it keeps my head up, and keep going, and keep pushing knowing that we gonna make a change gonna come for the better.”

Photo by: Mark Brown/ Stringer

According to Khaled, although he was already in love with Hip-Hop, “Juicy” took the genre to a new level.

“It was all a dream. It just touched me in a certain way, you know what I mean. Just the way that they captured that was incredible.”

When reflecting on Bob Marley, he said: “One Love. That’s what I’m about. One love. Only love. Love is the key. And love is the answer. And I feel like that record touched the world. It was so powerful and till this day we sing that word for word. It don’t matter what type of music you like, or what genre, you’re gonna sing that ‘One Love.’”

R&B duo, Chloe x Halle spoke on music’s impact on Black America, saying it’s important in more ways than one.

“I mean personally it’s been a form of therapy, of self-help,” Halle said. “It’s been a cry out for help when we don’t have the words to say it, we sing it. And I truly believe that it’s the most amazing thing that we could ever have. And I feel so blessed to even be able to listen to music.”

Chloe agreed with her sister, adding that music means so much to them.

Photo by: Rich Fury/Staff

“There’s a few songs that specifically impacted us as we were young women growing up in this world. It was ‘God Bless the Child.’ I remember performing all around Atlanta and even the lyrics still resonate with us to this day. They’re talking about ‘yes, God blesses you, but you also have to put in the work as well.’ And I think that helped us grow up to the young women we are today, as well as ‘Summertime,’ and ‘Golden’ by Jill Scott.

Backstage Pass host Eva Marcille also brought Gospel recording artist Vashawn Mitchell into the conversation.

“So, tell me what is on your soundtrack to Black America,” Marcille asked.

“My soundtrack is the songs that give us life,” Mitchell answered. “You know what we’ve been through but not only that what we came out of and tells our story. So, from gospel, to contemporary, to R&B, to whatever.”

Photo by: Paras Griffin/ Stringer

The models and TV personality asked what Mitchell considered contemporary music that he listens to often.

“I’ll listen to a little Drake, you know. A little Jazmine Sullivan, you know of course. Brandy. I just love music as a whole. So, I don’t get stuck in one genre. PJ Morton. The list goes on and on and on.”

The Gospel singer wrapped up his answer, “we have so many genres, and great sounds that we enjoy.”

What does your #SoundtrackOfBlackAmerica looks like? What does Black music mean to you? Tell us down below!

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