black artists to listen to
Even though we’re winding down Black History Month, we are so not done! It’s been amazing to explore the contributions and challenges of Black Americans, and a privilege to be able to provide a platform to honor their voices. And we want to end on a high note. Girl, if you’re looking for black artists to listen to, we found the perfect Spotify playlist. Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is perfect to get your groove on while working out to the inspirational music of legendary Black music makers.
The songs on the Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 make up the soundtrack from the 2011 documentary of the same name about the Black experience in America. These powerful tunes by Black artists come from an important era of Black history.
The Deets you NEED to Know
In the decades leading up to the mid-1960s, there was some really messed up sh$#t going down in our country like full-on segregation in transportation and housing, racial discrimination in education and hiring, and sadly, senseless violence. All because of skin color.
It’s truly mind-boggling that it took the Civil Rights Act in 1964 to actually make segregation illegal. But as we know, racial oppression for African Americans didn’t stop then, and thanks to the heroic efforts of some amazing civil rights activists who F-ing fought hard for equality, laws that addressed injustice began to emerge.
Creating music was how so many Black artists were able to express themselves during this time of racial reckoning, and OMG the talent––Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus & Carla Thomas!
Legions of voices and emerging sounds from the Black community lit up the airwaves from Blues, Rhythm & Soul, Funk, Reggae, R&B, Reggae, Jazz …A lot of the music reflected their cultural struggle––and also empowerment because their voices were finally being heard in politics, academia, and business (check out our post about products we love from Black-owned businesses).
6 Can’t Miss Songs
So we wanted our LSF community to immerse themselves in the zeitgeist of the era with this essential playlist. We chose six amazing songs that we thought were super cool. They will pump you up and motivate you to crush your workouts well beyond Black History Month. We are always looking for more black artists to listen to, so send them our way!
I Got You (I Feel Good): James Brown
This funk-soul classic was originally recorded in 1964 by the Godfather of Soul James Brown, but didn’t emphasize Brown’s signature screams until he re-recorded it a year later with more instruments like the sax. And single-syllable sounds haven’t been as impassioned ever since. We love warming up with this tune because it gets all pumped and into the groove. Woah!
Express Yourself: Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
After its 1970 release, this R&B song reached #12 on the Billboard charts and was nominated for a Grammy award. We love this one for its message of self-empowerment and addicting rhythm and beat.
War: Edwin Starr
The Motown label originally wrote this powerful anti-Vietnam war song for The Temptations, but then picked artist Edwin Starr to re-record. The single became a no. 1 Billboard hit in 1970 and one of the most well-known war protest songs of all time. Its lyrics, like “One, two, three, four …Get down!” will def getting you moving and help you endure when the going gets tough.
Soul Man: Sam & Dave
We all know that the Blues Brothers made this song famous on SNL in 1978, but soul duo Sam Moore & Dave Prater originally wrote and performed the song in 1967 inspired by Black pride during the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement. This song is a motivator to keep your workout sesh going for sure.
River Deep, Mountain High: Ike and Tina Turner
Making Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest 500 Songs of All Time, this was one of Tina Turner’s first songs attached to Phil Spector’s Philles label in 1966. Initially, the song couldn’t find a home because white stations said it was too Black, and the Black stations said it was too white, but it went on to become one of the most revered songs produced out of this era. This fast-paced tune will get you to break a sweat in no time.
(Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay: Otis Redding
When Otis Redding co-wrote Dock of the Bay with Nashville guitarist Steve Cropper in 1968, they knew they had something special. Sadly, the now-iconic song would be his last. Redding died in a plane crash a month later and never got to experience his success. One of the most soulful songs ever made, we think this masterpiece is perfect to help you wind down and reflect after a challenging workout.
So babes, whichever songs you choose, you can’t go wrong with any of these legendary picks. Playing these songs by influential Black artists while you work out will inspire and motivate you while you salute their artistry and reflect on the complex history Black culture in our country. Check out all the ways we celebrated Black History this month at LSF.