Our Mission & the NY Times on the Birth of American Music

inTheir Musicon September 23, 2019

Founding Music Maker artist Guitar Gabriel performing in Europe

25 years ago, Music Maker was founded on the idea of giving credit, appreciation, and financial support to those that shaped and continue to shape American culture through their music. We book shows for these artists, some of whom have never left their home communities, to play for huge audiences from Australia to Missouri in hopes that folks will will learn something about Black music and it’s monumental impact on our collective American culture.

Promoting a genre of music that people see as obsolete and partnering with musicians that have been forgotten due to their race and age often makes us feel like an underdog in the fight to connect the thread of popular music and culture back to its black roots. This is has been the conversation at Music Maker for the past 25 years – so when the NY Times released its latest 1619 podcast episode entitled The Birth of American Music the entire office got excited to listen, particularly given the fact that it is the #1 podcast in the US as of writing this.

The episode plunges into the racist history of popular American music and its origins of appropriation and black face minstrelsy. The advent of the recording industry gave a voice to black artists with the blues being the first genuine musical expression for black people that was publicly available. The episode lands on Mo-Town, soul, and funk as the culmination of Black music as a powerful, individuating art form.

Ironing Board Sam performing at JazzFest in the 1970s

Dig into the Music Maker catalog and you can hear every type of formative music mentioned in this powerful podcast. From the Goins’ raw, pared down gospel singing to Ironing Board Sam’s pioneering sounds on the synthesizer. Music Maker has forged partnerships with these artists because we believe that they continue to be important and are the links that connect us to a past that must be remembered. The podcast host, Wesley Morris, summarizes the essence of our mission with this powerful line, “Black music is American music because as Americans we say that we believe in freedom and that’s what we tell the world. The power of Black music is that it’s the ultimate expression of the belief in that American Freedom.”

It’s incredible to hear such a popular media outlet bring up this topic. But what about the musicians and artists that are still around and are still struggling to pay their bills and get their music heard? Traditional American music didn’t just evolve and become Yacht Rock and die off – it’s still be played and still evolving and that is why Music Maker exists – to protect and promote our rich musical traditions for future generations.

Listen to Music Maker’s entire catalog for free at musicmaker.bandcamp.com

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