Over the weekend, I was visiting with a friend. We were listening to music and having a great time. As we were listening to a song by Natalie Cole, I had asked the teenagers present if they had ever heard the song. Of course, their response was "no". It was not the fact that they had not heard the song that shocked me, it was they had never heard of Natalie Cole. They had no clue of who Natalie Cole is or what she has done. In addition, they had never heard of her father, the great Nat King Cole.
As African-Americans, we need to make sure we pass down our American Musical Heritage to our children and grand-children. It is amazing how many young people of other ethnicities know and love Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Queen, Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones, and Barbra Streisand. We cannot allow our descendants to forget the contributions of Ella Fitzgerald, Sam Cooke, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Michael Jackson, Thomas Whitfield, Danniebelle Hall, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Minnie Riperton, or Donny Hathaway. It is OUR job to expose OUR children to OUR musical heritage.
Since this is Black History Month 2014, I challenge all of my African-American brothers and sisters to expose your children to more than just popular music. Take the time to tell your children and grand-children about the music your parents and grand-parents played for you. Have them listen to Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass, Phyllis Hyman, The O'Jays, The Jones Girls, Billy Paul, The Stylistics, Jill Scott, Anita Baker, Peabo Bryson, Stephanie Mills, Jeffrey Osborne, The Emotions, Earth Wind & Fire, Jennifer Holliday, The Temptations, The Supremes, Mahalia Jackson, Rev. James Cleveland, Larnelle Harris, Babbie Mason, The Winans, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Sara Jordan Powell, Vernessa Mitchell, and Rance Allen. Expose them to Margaret Bell, Commissioned, Witness, Yolanda Harris-Stover, The Clark Sisters, Dianne Reeves, George Duke, Ramsey Lewis, George Benson, Jerry Butler, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Everette Harp, Kirk Whalum, The 5th Dimension, Gloria Lynne, Wynton Marsalis, Kathleen Battle, and Grover Washington, Jr.
Please take time to compile your list of great artists.
Let's keep our musical heritage alive for generations to come.
Respectfully and passionately submitted.