Slaves brought knowledge of West African musical instruments like drums, zithers, xylophones, and the banjo to the Americas. Music was a release from the toils and burdens of slavery. Though slaves were limited by their slave masters from playing instruments like the drums, they still found ways to use banjos, their hands to create music. They did not sing and play these instruments because it was just a typical Sunday, they sang because of their desire to be free and music gave them a bit of that. There would be no American music without Black people. The most distinctive features of African-American musical traditions can be traced back to Africa. Many of the expressive performance practices seen as synonymous with African American music have their roots in techniques that were originally developed in western and central Africa before arriving to the United States. African American musicians throughout history have drawn inspiration from African-derived music in the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as the African continent itself. Because of mass media technologies and the broad influence of American culture on music around the world, African Americans’ musical innovations have influenced artists in almost every corner of the world (Lewis). It wasn't until the Harlem Renaissance when Jazz, Blues, R&B, and even country Black musicians started becoming popular and making those genres "mainstream". Musicians such as Ma Rainey, Muddy Waters, Charlie Parker, and many more have paved the way for artists after them, different music genres, and our favorite artists today.
To listen to these legendary artists from the Harlem Renaissance to the artists they've paved the way for click on this link, where we've created Spotify playlists organized by genres that came from Black culture.