The Influence of Black Artists on Music



African Americans have always played a huge role in the music industry. For example, Chuck Berry was known for popularizing rock and roll in the 1950s. He inspired many other influential musicians such as the Beatles, Elvis Presley, and David Bowie, to name a few. Many believe that he actually invented the genre rock and roll by combining elements from rhythm and blues. He made some hits such as one of the most popular rock and roll songs of all time, “Johnny B. Goode,” which was featured in the movie Back to the Future.


Another influential Black artist was Aretha Franklin, also known as “The Queen of Soul.” She was an incredible musician with hits such as “Respect,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” and “Think.” She was the first woman to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and since her induction, over 65 women have been inducted and over half were black women. She paved the way for female artists that came after her and inspired many people such as Mariah Carey and Jennifer Hudson.


There are many more Black artists who influenced music as we know it today like Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Diana Ross, and Prince. These artists have shaped and inspired the music we hear today. Modern day artist Bruno Mars was influenced by artists like the King of Pop. According to the Daily Record Bruno Mars says, “Yeah, I mean I feel like I gravitate more towards singers with high voices, so growing up, I always used to listen to Michael Jackson, The Police, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Freddie Mercury, guys with high voices, because they’re the songs that I sing along to.”


Both Jay-Z and Beyonce had been majorly influenced by Diana Ross. Beyonce has said that Diana Ross was a main influence in her style of music. Jay-Z has also referenced Diana Ross in some of his lyrics and has stated that he was mesmerized after seeing her at a Central Park concert. Elements from those artists have stuck around and have formed the modern music industry.

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