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The Essence of Music: Celebrating Black Music Month

Join in the celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month, paying tribute to the rich heritage and impact of Black music in June.


Dec. 23 2023, Updated 6:44 p.m. ET

African American Music Appreciation Month, also commonly referred to as National Black Music Month, is celebrated every year in June. This month-long celebration acknowledges and pays tribute to the musical contributions of African Americans, an integral component of the nation's cherished cultural legacy.

From soulful rhythms to powerful lyrics, events across the country honor African traditions and history. Much of Black Music, from which jazz, swing, rhythm & blues, hip-hop, and more all stem from African American influences. The influence of Black music permeates the global soundscape. Highlights include a short history and three notable Black Music Month events that showcase the diversity and resilience of African-American musicians.

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History of Black Music Month

Every year in the U.S., we take a moment to vibe with the beats and rhythms that shape African-American music during Black Music Appreciation Month. President Jimmy Carter declared the annual celebration as Black Music Month in 1979 and signed official documentation to make it an officially recognized celebration in the United States. President Barack Obama greatly promoted the observance of African American Music Appreciation Month before, during, and after his time as president. He acknowledged in his 2016 proclamation that African-American music has helped the nation "to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country's enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all."

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Three Standout Must-Attend Events

  • Essence Festival: A Melting Pot of Musical Excellence: Each year, New Orleans hosts the Essence Festival—a spirited fusion of music, culture, and empowerment. It is not your usual music gig. It is a gathering of artists, thinkers, and fans celebrating black excellence. Beyond the rhythms, the festival showcases the diverse elements of black music. More than a concert, it is a space for conversations, unity, and acknowledging the achievements of black artists in the music industry.
  • BET Awards: Honoring Black Excellence in Music: This annual event, presented by Black Entertainment Television, is another highlight of Black Music Month. It is a tribute to the outstanding achievements of black artists, including Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, Best Male Hip Hop Artist, and Album of the Year. What makes the BET Awards stand out is its commitment to acknowledging musical prowess and social impact. The event consistently addresses pressing issues, blending entertainment with a powerful social conscience.
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  • Black Music Month Concert Series: Local Talent, Global Impact: Communities nationwide are hosting the Black Music Month Concert Series, highlighting local talent that adds depth to the broader story of black music. These grassroots events build bridges between artists and their communities, fostering pride and connection. With everything from gospel-inspired harmonies to experimental hip-hop beats, this series reflects the vibrant evolution of black music, showing that its impact goes beyond just mainstream recognition.

How to Find Black Music Month Industry Celebrations

Locating celebrations for African American Appreciation Month each year is easy because they are everywhere! Check social media, and your city’s website, or do a Google search to find celebrations near you or further away if you plan on traveling. Check community, news, or radio station websites. Any African-American history website or sites such as NAACP.org or Billboard.com are sources for event information and details. The opportunities are endless and well worth exploration and participation.

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