Throughout history, black artists have been at the forefront of music, but for the most part, their influence and work in music have been undermined. However, their legacy and impact on music lives on and continues to inspire and shape the music industry to this day. Stage Confessions is honoring the most influential black artists whose work has helped revolutionize music. We are honoring the Motown legend, Marvin Gaye; The greatest guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix; the outspoken Beyoncé, and more. We’d like to thank all the black artists for their contribution to music because quite frankly, music wouldn’t be the same without these fantastic people.

 

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Marvin Gaye

Motown legendary, Marvin Gaye helped pave the road for creative freedom and contemporary music. As a producer, his music was set in soul and gospel but had a modern refreshing quality to it. This refreshing quality was driven by the forward-thinking Motown, which blended the genres of R&B, jazz, soul, and funk. His social conscious and raw vulnerability also aided his craftsmanship towards contemporary music and challenged what was perceived as “good” to record labels. He fought for creative freedom by breaking the standard approach and releasing to what he thought was good. In turn, he then released “What’s Going On,” in 1971, a defining piece of soul music. His impact is found everywhere on artists across genres from Aaliyah, to The Avalanches, Diana Ross, and even The Strokes. – Miguel Anderson

 

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Lauryn Hill

Ms. Lauryn Hill became one of the most influential figures in hip-hop along with being apart of one of the most influential groups, the Fugees. In a genre dominated by males, she took down barriers setting male MC’s apart from female– proving that females are just as capable and even more capable to tackle hip-hop than their male counterparts. She was often better than her male counterparts too, her pen and words spoke with wise conscious, and she rose past her peers and became the most prevailing member of the Fugees. – Miguel Anderson

 

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Janet Jackson & Michael Jackson

Dance and music became famously intertwined in the 80’s by sibling pair Janet & Michael Jackson. By intertwining these mediums together, the two were able to transition music into the modern age, making music a much more substantial piece of entertainment. They gave music a rejuvenated energy and a new look with their outstanding performances, all of which are legendary and scatter the line of controversial and utterly epic. These two pioneers set a standard for how music should be done, especially when on stage, capturing audiences alike. Janet and Michael truly made music synonymous with entertainment. – Miguel Anderson

 

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Jimi Hendrix

Though black musicians built the foundation for Rock n Roll and continued to heavily influence it later, white artists quickly dominated the scene, making Jimi’s rise to fame extremely crucial and accomplishing. In an era of oppression, Jimi was constantly against the odds, he received criticism on every level and was often accused of stealing the styles of other guitarists. Despite this, he still shined through. He headlined the famous Woodstock festival in 1969 and became known for his unique stylistic guitar work which led him to become known for being the greatest guitarist of all time. Jimi passed away in 1970 but his legacy continues to live on and inspires others. Jimi Hendrix, along with his skills, made a huge mark on music that will never be erased. – Ashley Flamenco

 

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Erykah Badu

What Erykah Badu has done for the black community in music is irreplaceable. She intertwined appreciation of oneself, and embracement of one’s roots into her music while addressing issues that haunted the black community. By offering a say on these topics, she was able to voice a generation and spread the message that black is beautiful She let black people know that they were not alone, opening a door of representation for a community that didn’t have much in the industry to look up to. – Miguel Anderson

 

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N.W.A

Causing a shift in how hip-hop was delivered and known for, N.W.A was able to encapsulate their dangerous realities into their music. This “new” delivery at the time, took rap to a whole new level. It let people know the realities from a perspective often overlooked, and added some flair to hip-hop. N.W.A ushered in a new age in hip-hop and ushered out an age in hip-hop which was used for informative and fun purposes. N.W.A. along with their sound became pioneers for hip-hop, making “Gangsta” rap the standard for hip-hop in the process. – Miguel Anderson

 

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Beyoncé

Most artists don’t take advantage of the platform they’re given but Beyoncé does the exact opposite. She uses her music to speak on issues the black community faces on a daily. Not only does her music talk about the issues they face but she encourages them to embrace who they are. You see it in her visuals and performances as well. Beyoncé’s song “Formation”, not only has a powerful message, but the music video does as well. The video touched on events like Hurricane Katrina and the protests going on over the police killing unarmed black men and women. The video also showed scenes where she sat on top of a police car in a flood, a young black boy dancing in front of a line of police with “stop shooting us” graffitied on the wall, and much more. Her performance at Super Bowl Halftime show paid homage to the Black Panthers. Aside from her music she’s done a lot of charity work that has helped out various of communities. Her and Jay-Z donated 1.5m to the Black Lives Matter movement and other organizations. Almost everything she has done has had a huge impact not just in the music industry but the world. – Louis Cano

 

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Kanye West

Kanye West is one of the few artists whose actions of embracing individuality impacted communities and generations. His individuality strayed from the gangsta rap image that was popular in hip-hop in the early to mid-2000’s and went towards a more vulnerable and honest image. He showed the community how to be themselves and be as creative as they can, they can still reach success without having to conform to what’s popular. Since then, rap has never been the same. This paved the way for artists such as Drake, Kid Cudi, and Tyler, the Creator. – Miguel Anderson