Ain’t gonna hurt nobody to get on down!
Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street
- Martha and The Vandellas
This is how we do it
It’s Friday night and I feel alright
The party’s here on the West side
Summer, summer, summertime
Time to sit back and unwind
- DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Baby how you feeling?
Feeling good as hell
Go shawty, it’s your birthday
We gonna party like it’s your birthday
- 50 Cent
Today marks our final playlist for the Black Music Month. The final theme is Celebration. Celebrations are critical to the Black community. In spite of the systemic racism and oppression endured for generations, the community has managed to celebrate its successes and triumphs.
Summer is the time for family reunions, cook outs, crab and crawfish boils, and fish fries. This year COVID-19 has forced us to become creative with our celebrations. However, music is an essential part of any celebration virtual or face-to-face.
A celebration playlist is controversial because Black communities in every region of the country have a list of the “essentials.” The essentials are those songs identified as being critical to having a great party. An essential is the song that can get an entire generation, if not the whole group, to stop what they’re doing and dance. An essential gets everyone, regardless of ability or rhythm, movin’ and groovin’.
Highly disputable, we hope this list will inspire you to consider your own celebration playlist
This playlist features:
NCRM has a number for transplants from the Washington, DC area (also known as the DMV). Go-go is the regional music of DC, and was recently featured in the TV One documentary The Beat Don’t Stop. The late great Chuck Brown is the godfather of Go-Go. While many people have their favorites, his classic “Bustin Loose” is heard throughout the DMV at many summer gatherings. Nelly sampled this classic for his single "Hot in Here."
Beyoncé released her cover of the Maze featuring Frankie Beverly classic “Before I Let Go” in 2019, however, we decided to pay homage to the original 1981 single. A celebration classic, this song gets families dancing, and is staple within the African American hand dancing community.
Birthdays are special, and in the time of Coronavirus birthday celebrations have been especially innovative. No birthday celebration is complete without Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday,” created to raise awareness about the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday holiday.
Our playlist features a variety of Black artists at various stages of their career from Beyoncé to Prince to Sister Sledge to Womack & Womack. These songs reflect the diversity of music within the Black community, and songs which continue to resonate with people today.
What are your “essentials?”
What songs by Black artists would you recommend? Share with us on social media @NCRMuseum #BlackMusicMonth #RevolutionaryMusic