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The National Museum of African American Music presents The Rhythm of A Nation.  

This exhibit features the work of local and national artists like Elisheba Isreal Mrozik, Omari Booker, Kia Linton, Inetris Rondo, and Thaxton Waters. The artists’ works capture the diverse conversations about Black love, labor, spirituality, and life. From the expressiveness of field hollers, quartets, Jazz, and R&B music to Hip Hop’s augmentation and innovation of the same sounds, The Rhythm of A Nation reminds us that music was and continues to be our tool to be seen and heard.  

In 1903, W.E.B Dubois wrote that music lifted a veil and unapologetically described the experiences of Black folk. Dubois wrote in a time of systematic erasure of the Black American experience- the power to express oneself, to gather, and to celebrate and preserve the many stories. The injustice continued throughout the twentieth century, witnessed through the race-based violence and lack of resources afforded the Black community. 

It was the creation and performance of music that enabled and emboldened African Americans. Music allowed them to see they were not alone. African Americans weaponized their voices to develop a craft that economically and racially empowered them. Their lyrics served as a balm for the marginalized and disenfranchised, creating a sense of community each time artists sang of lives lost, rights declared, or aspirations achieved. African Americans were emboldened by the spiritual, “You Got A Right To The Tree of Life,” saddened and made aware of injustice by Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam,” and taught to turn tragedy to triumph, as Kanye West said. Each artist has added their experience, knowledge, and voice to the many others that continuously push Black American culture forward. As Biggie Smalls said, who ever thought that Hip Hop and perhaps all Black music would take it this far? 

Much like the primary exhibition at the National Museum of African American Music, “The Rhythm of A Nation” invites you to take a moment to pause and immerse yourself within the rivers of American music. As you peek behind the veil, perhaps you will do as Maya Angelou said and find your own heroes/sheroes within the African American existence.  

 

Posted by Brennen Boose at 14:41