African American News

"Black Music Month is 26 years old."

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It's been over two decades since Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach made President Jimmy Carter pick up the mic and attempt to sing "Salt Peanuts". Some have jokingly said it was Carter's appearance with two giants of Black Music that helped him recognize one of Africa's many gifts to America and the world. Whether this is true or an urban legend Carter did proclaim June Black Music Month on June 7, 1979 after talks with Black Music Association founders Kenneth Gamble and Ed Wright.

The Black Music Association/Toronto Chapter (BMA/TC) has played a major role in the African Canadian music industry. It was the BMA/TC that persuaded mayor June Rowlands to recognize June as Black Music Month in Toronto in 1993. Since that time Mayors Barbara Hall, Mel Lastman and David Miller for the last two years have followed the BMA/TC's lead. For two years the BMA/TC refused to approach the Mayors office when Mel Lastman was in office because of his statement about him and his wife
being afraid of being "cooked" in hot water in Kenya.

There was a time not that long ago that African Canadian musicians were excluded from Canada's premier Award show the Junos. However, this year K-OS cleaned up with three Junos including Single of the Year for the song "Crabuckit". This would not have happened 26 years ago. Why? Because one, African -Canadians were not respected like they are today and two there were no Black Music categories in the Junos at that time.

Twenty Six years ago we had no radio station for African Canadian artists. Today we have Flow 93.5 which plays artists like Divine Brown and Jully Black .However, veteran artists like Tiki Mercury-Clarke, King Cosmos, Jayson, Lazo and Mocomere Fifi still need a mainstream outlet to be heard.

We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Twenty -Six years ago we were "respectfully requesting "today we are demanding the following:

1. A separate category in the Juno's for Calypso/Soca
2. More airplay for continental African music both produced in Canada and from Africa
3. African Canadian artists such as Dianne Brooks, Jody Drake, and Eric Mercury etc. are inducted into Canada's new Music Hall of Fame.

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