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Black Contributions to Music: Pop

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As a continuation of my series of Black Contributions to Music, this week I am discussing the influence of Black artists on the pop genre. It’s important to recognize musicians of color and their contributions to music, as they are often overlooked or ignored.  

Black artists began transforming the pop mainstream in America with great popularity by the 1950s and 1960s. Pop origination from rock and roll, folk, and other styles into a genre of its own. Artists like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown helped bring R&B, funk, and soul to the forefront of pop culture and mainstream music. Their contributions have continued to shape music today and helped give pop music a wider breadth of sound. 

Artists like the Jackson 5 continued to impact pop music in the 1970s with singles that become extremely popular like “I Want You Back” and “ABC.” Michael Jackson’s influence continued with his hits like “Thriller.” Whitney Houston was one of the greatest pop artists to ever live, her version of “I Will Always Love You” becoming iconic and recognizable throughout the country, and her album being a top bestseller of all time. Iconic artists like Jackson, Houston, and Prince helped define and influence the genre. 

The 2000s gave rise to hip-hop and R&B-influenced pop music, exemplified by the popularity of Rihanna’s unique sound. The Pulitzer prize in music was given to a pop artist, rather than the typical classical, for the first time in 2018 to Kendrick Lamar for his album DAMN. Black artists continuously make an impact to the pop genre and create boundary-breaking mainstream music. 

Check out these amazing Black artists: Ciara, Jill Scott, Santigold

Sources: I, II 

 – Miranda

By Miranda

I am a senior in Political Science at NC State and lover of R&B, rap, international, and electronic.