Quotes About African American Music

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Quotes About African American Music

Society wants to categorize everything, but to me its all African-American music.
— Johnny Otis —

Though many strive to hide their human libidinousness from themselves and each other, being a force of nature, it breaks through. Lots of uptight, proper Americans were scandalized by the way Elvis moved his hips when he sang "rock and roll." But how many realized what the phrase rock and roll meant? Cultural historian Michael Ventura, investigating the roots of African-American music, found that rock 'n' roll was a term that originated in the juke joints of the South. Long in use by the time Elvis appeared, Ventura explains the phrase "hadn't meant the name of a music, it meant 'to fuck.' 'Rock,' by itself, has pretty much meant that, in those circles, since the twenties at least." By the mid-1950s, when the phrase was becoming widely used in mainstream culture, Ventura says the disc jockeys "either didn't know what they were saying or were too sly to admit what they knew.

— Christopher Ryan

We black Southerners, through life, love, and labor, are the generators and architects of American music, narrative, language, capital, and morality. That belongs to us. Take away all those stolen West African girls and boys forced to find an oral culture to express, resist, and signify in the South, and we have no rich American idiom.

— Kiese Laymon

From being a little girl in the projects, going through all of the mess that I was going through, to ending up at the Inauguration for the first African-American president, I'm speechless right now because I never thought I'd - I never ever - I couldn't even see that far. Even when I ended up in the music business, I couldn't see that.

— Mary J. Blige

Anyone who watches a lot of television, or listens to pop music, is familiar with a certain vision of America. If not exactly colorblind, this America is one in which different races easily interact, in which a white person might have an Asian boss, Hispanic stepson, or African-American frenemy.

— Wesley Morris

When it comes to African Americans and African American actors, Hollywood has always felt that if you can make us laugh, that's fine, but we don't need to see you do a 'Schindler's List,' where there's no jokes or music or comedic through-line.

— Hill Harper

The good and bad are all tangled up together. American popular music is loved around the world because of its African rhythm. But that wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for slavery.

— Pete Seeger

What city has given the world more in terms of American culture than New Orleans? There is none. Not New York. Not L.A. Not Chicago. Not anywhere, in the sense that African American music has gone around the world twenty times over, and it's continuing to evolve. It is our greatest cultural export.

— David Simon

I know I'm an African-American, and I know I play the saxophone, but I'm not a jazz musician. I'm not a classical musician, either. My music is like my life: It's in between these areas.

— Anthony Braxton

American audiences don't react in the same way as European ones to African music because, I think, Europeans listen to this music through all the festivals that exist here.

— Rokia Traore

What I consider to be the barometer for what is a rock artist and what is not, is somebody who has a certain element of blues, even a hint of soul or blues music, derivative of African-American blues, folk, spiritual, or gospel.

— Ian Astbury

And different traditions stress different - so then there's that. I talked to an African American who says before she goes into an interracial church, she sits in her car and she listens to gospel music to get her fill, and she goes into an interracial church where they don't do gospel music, and she's ready to accept the other sorts of ways of worshipping. So there's that.

— Michael Emerson

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