Chocolate is to cake as Blues is to music: soulful, rich, and all-around amazing. It’s quite ironic that I use this analogy, for this post deals with the Black Arts Movement and its association with Blues music. A little chocolate thunder for you.
Now, the BAM was a period that spanned the 1960s and 1970s in America and was considered the artistic branch of the Black Power Movement. Amiri Baraka is accredited with starting the movement in Harlem. Time Magazine described the movement as the “single most controversial moment in the history of African-American literature – possibly in American literature as a whole.” The most common form of expression during this time was through poetry, and this poetry was highly influenced by blues music. The Black Arts Movement deals with looking within an individual’s own background, history, race, tradition, and culture and pulling from those roots to establish an artistic style. The Black Arts, therefore, had influences of blues and jazz.
Although this movement was short-lived and seemed the most unsuccessful of Renaissance artistic movements, it set the course for multiculturalism in America that successfully exists today. Now free expression of any race and culture is mostly accepted and even encouraged. This would not be possible without the inventive and revolutionary thinker, Amiri Baraka, among many others who contributed to the movement. Much like cake, which used to be very plain and unoriginal, is now used to express emotions and individuality through colors, flavors, messages, etc.
The Blues style of music that was extremely influential in the Black Arts Movement, is still apparent in music today. Such an example of this influence is one band that I am simply falling in love with, The Black Keys. Consisting of Dan Auerbach (vocalist and guitarist) and Patrick Carney (drummer and producer), this blues-rock music duo is becoming highly more popular each day. Formed in 2001 in Akron, Ohio, the band has since released thirteen albums and EPs and sold 1.7 million records. TBK is said to have the same stylings and energy as Muddy Waters and Elmore James, famous blues artists.
This band is just one of many examples of the influence that Blues and the Black Arts Movement have on our culture and arts to this day. Like chocolate, these indulgences are hard to resist!
A little taste to stimulate your palate: