Black History Month – musical resonance

October 14, 2020

Music and rhythm feature strongly in the lives of all of us, whatever our culture. That’s why we’re celebrating the impact and contribution of music from black and minority ethnicities during Black History Month. Music from Cameroon (by way of Francis Bebey) to Chic’s disco-stomping classics in 1970s New York, from Bob Marley’s Jamaica to the Motown hits of 1960s Detroit – and all points north, south, east and west over the years.

The rich tapestry that makes up our musical experience in life is so interwoven into our memories that it can continue to shape how we engage with it, whenever we listen.

People now in their 80s and 90s living with dementia may have been moved by the music of greats such as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Equally, those born later will likely have grown up to a soundtrack incorporating more diversity as technology evolved, new genres emerged and people travelled more widely across the world.

We are indebted to music makers of all cultures for their role in enriching our lives with their sounds.

In July BAME Dementia Consultant Mohammed Al Rauf wrote a blog for us about BAME communities and music. He said, “Rhythm is present whether it is in words, instruments, prayers, chants, folk songs and songs which enable memories of bygone eras for many.”

We asked musical artist Ronald Amanze to share with us his favourite reggae music for a special programme on m4d Radio to celebrate #BlackHistoryMonth. His selection includes Young, Gifted and Black – Bob and Marcia Griffiths, Hurt So Good – Susan Cadogan, Love Has found Its way – Dennis Brown, Remember that Sunday – Alton Ellis and Phyllis Dillon, and I’m No Substitute Lover – Half Pint. What a list!

We hope you will all take the opportunity this October to dig out and listen to some old favourites by some of the many talented and wonderful black musicians that help rekindle your own personal significant moments. In being reminded of just how much you enjoyed them, why not keep them on your playlist at least until Christmas?


Some of our top choices:

Dancin’ in the Street – Martha and the Vandellas

War – Edwin Starr

Blue Shadows – Lowell Fusion

Blue Moon – The Marcels

They Can’t Take That Away from Me – Ella Fitzgerald

Blue Moon – The Marcels

Good Times – Chic

The Coffee Cola Song – Francis Bebey

The First Cut is the Deepest – PP Arnold

The Locomotion – Little Eva

007 A Shanty Town – Desmond Dekker

Walk On By – Dionne Warwick

Jump in the Line – Harry Belafonte

Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding

Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) – Frank Wilson

Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Stevie Wonder

Baby Love – The Supremes

Gwen Guthrie – Ain’t Nothing Going On But the Rent

One Love – Bob Marley

Ain’t Got No – I Got Life – Nina Simone

September – Earth, Wind and Fire

Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles