Ryan Gosling Can’t Save Jazz: 10 Artists to listen to during Black History Month

This list is comprised of 10 of some of the most influential black musicians in honor of Black History Month. In alternating order of modern and classic, these artists have had a major impact on music and society.

  1. Jimi Hendrix revolutionized the way musicians play guitar in the 1960s. He went from playing with strings tied to a bed frame to playing 20-minute guitar solos across North America and Europe. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame even describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.”
    Song suggestions: “Voodoo Chile,” “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Freedom.”

  1. SZA has been releasing music since 2012, with her debut album coming out in June 2017, which scored her five Grammy nominations. She is a practicing Muslim, which helped to influence her stage name: “Sovereign Zig-Zag Allah.”
    Song suggestions: “20 Something,” “Go Gina,” and “Anything.”

  1. Nina Simone was a prodygy pianist and vocalist and by the mid-1960s was considered the voice of the Civil Rights Movement. She had to fight through many barriers because of racism, despite the fact that she studied at Julliard.
    Song suggestions: “Backlash Blues,” “Revolution Parts 1&2,” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”

  1. Kendrick Lamar has been releasing music since 2004 that focuses a lot on gang violence and how African-Americans are treated in America. With close family ties to gangs and living in section eight housing while growing up in Compton, California, he is proof and inspiration that people living in impoverished communities can prosper.
    Song suggestions:  “Humble,” “Alright,” and “Swimming Pools.”

  1. Prince was musically active from 1975 until his tragic death in 2016. His music and persona helped break gender roles for men as he was more “feminine” and despite having controversial songs, he was still extremely successful worldwide.
    Song suggestions: “Baltimore,” “Sexuality,” and “Controversy.”

  1. Childish Gambino, also known as Donald Glover, has been doing just about everything since 2002: writing for TV shows and music, acting, rapping, directing and producing. His music is known for making political statements and talking about current events, and he has recently had a few roles in big movie franchises, adding to black representation. Song suggestions: “Hold You Down,” “Sober,” and “Baby Boy.”  

  1. Tracy Chapman’s career officially began in 1986, but she has been playing the ukulele since she was three and writing songs since she was eight. She performed at the Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour. Her music was highly influential on college campuses because of its liberal progressiveness.
    Song suggestions: “Talkin’ Bout A Revolution,” “Give Me a Reason,” and “Telling Stories.”

  1. Khalid is a new upcoming artist who was nominated for a Grammy and won a VMA for his debut album, “American Teen.” He started releasing music through SoundCloud during high school and is already going on sold out tours across North America and Europe.
    Song Suggestions: “8teen,”  “Hopeless,” and “American Teen.”

  1. Aretha Franklin began her career when she released her first album in 1956, at age 14. She was soon signed to prominent record labels, and by 1967, released her most famous song, “Respect,” which is considered an anthem for feminism and civil rights. In 2009, she performed “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at Barack Obama’s inauguration.
    Song suggestions: “Respect,” “Never Loved a Man,” and “Chain of Fools.”

  1. Jay-Z is one the most successful rappers since the start of his career in the late 1980s. He has been ranked as MTV’s “Greatest MC of All Time” and Rolling Stones put three of his albums on “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” He is also the hip hop artist with the second highest net worth.
    Song suggestions: “Caught Their Eyes,” “Gotta Have it,” and “Holy Grail.”