To round out what’s already been a historic Black Music Month here in the Twin Cities, Minnesota music royalty the Sounds of Blackness will stage two live concerts (7 pm and 9 pm) on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at The Dakota in downtown Minneapolis.
Billed as “The Soul of the Sixties: A Celebration of Black Music,” these shows will pay tribute to some of the greatest performers of that decade, while also underscoring how the music of this era was inextricably linked to social movements across the United States and around the world.
The Soundtrack of America
From the spirituals that first arose 400 years ago, Black music has been the epicenter of protest music in America, long before America was ever a nation. And, through the emergence of the blues, jazz, R&B, and modern gospel, the African American songbook—including refrains on freedom, resilience, justice, and dissent—continued to flourish well into the 20th century.
Then in 1964, a quarter-century after Billie Holiday debuted, “Strange Fruit,” Sam Cooke recorded his own timeless masterpiece, “A Change is Gonna Come.” That same year Nina Simone first performed her own protest classic “Mississippi Goddam.”
Shortly thereafter, Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions released the opus “People Get Ready,” which was widely regarded as the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights Movement.
Dozens of artists soon followed suit and in a flash, the soul, rock, and funk of the 1960s became not only part and parcel of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements but the soundtrack of America. In addressing the significance of Black music during this period, scholar Shana L. Redmond and some of her colleagues, wrote:
“The civil rights movement codified hymns of resistance, but the soul and funk that poured from radios paid mind to police harassment and other threats too, sometimes more pointedly. There was never a moment, in fact, when Black musicians put aside their commitment to telling the truth of how Black people have been wronged, and survived, and fought back.”
Dr. Redmond, professor of Musicology and African American Studies at UCLA’s Herb Albert School of Music, earned her B.A. from Macalester College, the same St. Paul institution that birthed the Sounds of Blackness more than 50 years ago.
Sounds of Blackness: Soul of the Sixties
In presenting the “Soul of the Sixties,” producer and musical director Gary Hines has created an “authentic reenactment” of performances from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Four Tops, and Sly and the Family Stone among many others. Backed by its 10-piece band, the Sounds of Blackness will also appear in full costume inspired by the era and perform original choreography.
Come celebrate the 44th Annual Black Music Month with Sounds of Blackness, on June 30. For a preview of the show, check out this video. For tickets to 7 pm, click here. And, for the 9 pm show, go here.
Tickets are also available at the Dakota box office, 1010 Nicollet Mall, from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday, and from 12 pm to 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday.
“Soul of the Sixties: A Celebration of Black Music,” is sponsored by Andersen Windows and Doors and executive produced by the Rae Mackenzie Group.
Tony Kiene’s experience in the Twin Cities nonprofit and entertainment industries includes work with Minneapolis Urban League, Penumbra Theatre, Hallie Q. Brown, and Pepé Music.
He welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.