This week’s Friday Favorites segment will highlight some of my favorite songs by talented Black artists from the mid-1900s. Often these artists had to fight to break into mainstream music and were working against discrimination and racism. Despite their struggle, these artists all created amazing music.
Grandma’s Hands – Bill Withers
Most of us know of the talent and impact of Bill Withers as a musician. He is an incredible songwriter, and this song in particular echoes familial love and gratitude. Its emotional lyrics pair with a cool R&B beat to create a memorable track.
Mama Said – The Shirelles
This is a really excellent song by this successful group which defined female vocal groups and helped influence the popular blend of pop and rock with R&B. This song is fun and upbeat with beautiful vocals and harmonies.
You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
One of my favorite Black musicians is Smokey Robinson. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles created some of the most gorgeous music of the era, ranging from love songs to Christmas albums. The group is incredibly influential to R&B and this song is so beautiful.
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg – The Temptations
The Temptations were one of the most influential Motown acts of all time. Their vocals are extremely memorable and influential still today, and this song is a perfect example of why the group is remembered as one of the best of the 1960s.
Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes
This song is one of the best from The Marvelettes, a pop-influenced Motown girl group with gorgeous lead vocals and upbeat lyrics and song themes. This one is one of the most well-known by the group and has been covered by many artists since.
As always, you can check out this week’s Favorites and all the songs from the past weeks on this playlist on WKNC’s Spotify. Hope you enjoyed!