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  • Writer's pictureWAJ

How Black Artists Changed the Beat of Music History

We must never forget the incredible contributions of black artists who revolutionized music in the twentieth century. From soul to hip-hop, their unique sounds, styles and beats have left an indelible mark on music history, forever changing the industry. Let’s take a look at how these influential artists shaped modern music.

The Birth Of Jazz

Let’s start with one of America’s oldest musical forms – jazz. This genre was born in New Orleans during the late 19th century, thanks in large part to African American composers like Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong. Their work combined elements from multiple styles (including ragtime, blues, and gospel) to create something entirely new, which eventually spread across the country and around the world.

In addition to their influence on jazz itself, these early composers also paved the way for other genres. Without Armstrong’s pioneering use of improvisation and syncopation, rock ‘n roll may never have come into existence. Similarly, without Morton’s innovative approach to composition, modern hip-hop might never have been created either!

Motown Records - More than an Era

The Motown sound was created by Berry Gordy Jr., a visionary artist and entrepreneur who founded Motown Records in 1959. He took advantage of the growing popularity of African American music and cultivated a roster of groundbreaking artists, including the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and many more. This unique blend of sounds quickly became known as “the Motown sound” or “The Sound Of Young America” and changed popular music forever.

The Rise Of R&B And Soul Music

Soul music is a genre that emerged in the 1950s and is characterized by its gospel-influenced melody and rhythm. It was originally developed by African American musicians such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown and Sam Cooke who blended different musical elements together to create something fresh and exciting. The mid-20th century saw an explosion of new musical styles, many of them created by black musicians. Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin were two of the most influential figures in rhythm & blues (R&B) and soul music respectively; both artists helped bring these genres into mainstream consciousness during a time when civil rights issues were at their peak. Even today, their influence continues to be felt – just listen to any modern R&B or soul track and you can hear echoes of Ray Charles or Aretha Franklin in its sound! The genre went on to become one of the most enduringly popular forms of music in history thanks to its passionate lyrics and powerful melodies.


Hip-hop has had an immeasurable impact on popular culture around the world since its emergence in the late 1970s. Pioneers like Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC and LL Cool J laid down some of the earliest tracks that would eventually define hip-hop for decades to come. While it has gone through many changes since then, it still remains one of the most popular genres today due to its ability to continuously evolve with current trends while staying true to its roots.

It’s hard to overstate just how influential black artists have been on modern music history. From Motown Records all the way up to hip-hop culture today, their creativity has pushed boundaries while inspiring countless other musicians along their path – both globally recognized icons as well as local heroes alike! As long as there is music, we will always be indebted for what these incredible performers have done for us all!


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