WUMB July Program Guide

Worth Their Musical Weight and Then Some…

Perhaps my two biggest passions are music and baseball. Both have at times been shown to be mini-microcosms of society. For example, with race relations. Jackie Robinson and the integration of Major League Baseball pre-dated the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s by nearly 20 years. And in music, from the ‘20s on up…from early jazz to R&B, to folk to “race records” and rock & roll to Rap…the kids of all colors integrated the dance floors and clubs.

At some point it was decided that February would be Black History Month. Only one month? When it comes to music, I feel like we do that a little bit every day at WUMB. Well, any excuse to celebrate the giants of music is a fine excuse in my book. WUMB will be doing that throughout the month of February. And it will be a blast.

Can you imagine the impact of music without Satchmo, Sippie, Odetta, Lightnin’, Elmore, Sister Rosetta, Josh White, Memphis Minnie, B.B., Muddy, Buddy, Big Mama Thornton and so many more? How many singers made an impact in the R&B, Soul, Country, and early Rock & Roll genres like Ray Charles did? The artists of many colors influenced by Black artists speak to music’s encouragement of integration. The new Band of Heathens album is a re-recording of a Ray Charles album. You’ve got the only thing Dave & Phil Alvin can agree on: Big Bill Broonzy. In a 1989 interview with Queen, lead singer Freddie Mercury – who had just recorded an album with opera singer Montserrat Caballe – was asked who else he’d like to work with. He first sighed, “There are so many,” and then almost before that response ended said, “Aretha Franklin.” As if to say, “obviously.” You had so many young white college kids in the burgeoning ‘60’s Folk scene like (“Spider” John) Koerner, (Dave “Snaker”) Ray, & (Tony “Little Son”) Glover who spread the influence of their favorite African American singers. The Allman Brothers helped bring B.B. King into the mainstream in the ‘70’s. And so on up to Rap music.

There are so many more artists and examples I could cite here. But we’ve got a month to enjoy doing that. The music will do the talking. And it will show how music often leads, while conventional society follows.

~ Perry Persoff

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