A blend of African-American oral and musical traditions.
Closely related to the African-American classical and opera journey, the Black cultural contributions to the theater and spoken word genres are also a story of creativity and innovation overcoming cultural and systemic bias. Black theater music is the epitome of resilience and taking and remaking something that not only originally excluded African-Americans but was created to mimic and ridicule the Black experience.
White performers, beginning in the early 19th century, began a racist theatrical entertainment for White audiences that grotesquely mimicked African-American music and culture with the birth of blackface minstrel shows. The minstrel show quickly became the most popular form of American entertainment and even spread its influence worldwide. With limited opportunities to share their musical gifts, Black American performers adopted the minstrel form and subsequently made it their own — taking something born from pain and creating something beautiful and uniquely African-American.
Like many of the genres featured on The Black Music Project, artists in the theater and spoken word category also significantly contributed to other musical genres such as classical and opera, jazz, soul, pop, and hip hop.
African American Theatre is a vibrant and unique entity enriched by ancient Egyptian rituals, West African folklore, and European theatrical practices. A continuum of African folk traditions, this theatre combines storytelling, mythology, rituals, music, song, and dance with ancestor worship from ancient times to the present. It has afforded black artists a cultural gold mine to celebrate what it has been like to be an African American in The New World.
Anthony Duane Hill, BlackPast
The duo brought Black artistry to the American stage.
Singer, actor, athlete, lawyer, activist, Renaissance man.
Political conscience street poet and singer.
Born in the Mississippi Delta.
Born in New Orleans with roots in ragtime and the blues.
European tradition reimagined by African American artists.
The dominant form of American dance music for over a decade.
Black musical tradition is a part of its core.
The progeny of spirituals and cousin to the blues.