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Why Every Black Person Should Celebrate Black Music Month

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On Sunday June 1st, I discovered that June was Black Music Month when For Harriet,  the blog I’m interning for mentioned on about having t-shirts with the names of female black musicians. Since then, I’ve realized that other black people may not be aware of Black Music month and why it should be celebrated.

According to the website for the National Museum for African American Music, black music month was originally founded in 1979 by Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams in order to celebrate the impact  of black music. However, it wasn’t formerly recognized as a national event until the year 2000.

In 2009, President Barack Obama took it further by calling Black Music Month by a second name, African American Music Appreciation Month.

With all the hip-hop and R n’ B music dominating the charts and radio airwaves, it seems unnecessary to have an entire month dedicated to black music. However, we have done so much more than this.

For instance, any true rock music enthusiast will tell you that rock came from blues, jazz, country, and gospel mixed together. Recently, I did a Buzzfeed listicle featuring some of the black men and women who influenced rock in the past and a little taste of the rock music being done by black musicians today.

Thanks to the multimedia and multi-genre movement  known as Afropunk, black people have a chance to express themselves in ways that aren’t shown in most of the mainstream media. Last month, I did a post on my top ten Afropunk musicians.

We should take this month to celebrate the fact that black people have and will contribute so much amazing music in various genres. They may not sell a million records or win a ton of awards, but that shouldn’t matter. As long as ears are listening, music will always matter.





Written by Serena Zola

June 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Music Video Spotlight: “The Stars Are Out Tonight” by David Bowie

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If you are familiar with David Bowie’s music and music videos, then you know that anything David Bowie does will be a bit out there.

The song “The Stars Are Out Tonight” discusses people’s obsession with celebrities and how celebrities or the people who represent them take advantage of that.

The music video directed Floria Sigismondi takes the song to another level by showing the viewer what celebrities could do to everyday people. It features not only David Bowie, but also actress Tilda Swinton as his wife and model Iselin Steiro as a younger David Bowie.

This is my favorite music video from The Next Day because of who stars in it, and because it is so weird and creative and so intelligent. The weirdness immerses you in the video and lets you feel things from the perspective of Bowie’s character and Bowie himself.

Bowie’s videos that are set in real life make you think about the lyrics more and how they reflect your life and the world around you.  It is something that Bowie has always done in the past and something I’ve always appreciated about Bowie.

“The Stars Are Out Tonight” is from Bowie’s 2013 surprise comeback album The Next Day. It is also the second of five music singles that have been released so far and the second of five music videos made to promote the album.



Written by Serena Zola

November 9, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Musician Spotlight: Blondie

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

A week or so ago, I was listening to my Joan Jett & The Blackhearts station on when I am slammed by the sound of a guitar and female vocals with a New Jersey accent. I look to see the song currently playing is “Hanging on The Telephone” by Blondie. As I continue listening to the song, I have the urge to dance along with the guitars and start loving the yearning in the singer’s voice when she sings, “Oh, I can’t control myself!” That’s when I decide to look up Parallel Lines, the album the song is on. From there, I ended up listening to Blondie’s entire discography and discovering thirteen other songs I really liked.

One of the best things about Blondie is its music. For a band, they have the most eclectic sound I have ever heard. By the time they had reached their zenith in the 8o’s, they had done punk, pop-rock, disco, reggae, jazz, funk, and rap. When it comes to doing a song featuring rap, they were ahead of their time. Thanks to meeting graffiti artist Fab Five Freddy, they were able to embrace rap when it was just beginning to take off.

Another great aspect of their music is their lyrics. Like their sound, there is a lot of variety, Some lyrics are fun, some are relaxing, and others make a statement.  Some of my favorite songs are “Eat to The Beat“,“Follow Me “, and “Die Young, Stay Pretty.” 

Last but not least, the vocals of Blondie’s lead singer Debbie Harry.  They are different things depending on the song. For instance, “Rapture” and “Heart of Glass” have Harry’s vocals becoming airy like Donna Summers. On slower songs like “Sound-A-Sleep” and “Shayla” they are soothing and angelic. On rock songs like “Living in the Real World”, her voice has a growl to it that is reminiscent of 80’s rocker Joan Jett.

All and all, this band is now my number one favorite band.  I am happy they are still making music today, but I personally think they reached their peak in the 80s . Nonetheless, I would recommend them to anyone.

Written by Serena Zola

August 17, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Musician Spotlight: Joan Jett

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Most people know Joan Jett for her cover of The Arrows “I Love Rock n’ Roll” with her band The Blackhearts. When I heard this song a few years ago, I thought it was awesome. Yet, I didn’t want to hear more of her music for a few reasons.  At the time, I wasn’t too open to old music. I also pegged Joan Jett as a butch rocker who only wrote music that said “I’m a woman, I’m rebellious, hear me roar!” after checking out the album I Love Rock n Roll.  As it turns out, this 80’s rocker is so much more than what she appears to be.

One of the best things about her is her vocals. She has a soothing yet aggressive voice. The soothing vocals are best seen in  slower songs like “Love Hurts”, and “Crimson and Clover”. Of course, her aggressive vocals are seen in more up-tempo songs like “Bad Reputation” and “Victims of Circumstance”.

Another thing I enjoy about her is how passionately she performs live. She’s not kidding around when she says she loves rock n roll. Whether she is playing her own songs or a cover, she puts her heart and soul into doing it. One of my favorite live performances is her performing Sly and The Family Stone’s ‘Everyday People”. I love the jam session her and another guitarist has almost three minutes in.

Last but not least, her songwriting. It is rare that I have a favorite album by anybody. Whenever I do choose one, it is something that I appreciate as a fan and as a critic. In this case, it is Joan Jett’s 1994 album Pure and Simple.  Joan Jett might not have the most complex lyrics, but some of them are very meaningful and touching.

On this particular album, Joan Jett has less of the tough girl stuff and more vulnerable and empowering material. My personal favorite songs are “Activity Grrrl” , “Go Home”, and “Brighter Day”. In “Activity Grrl” Joan Jett tells of an everyday girl trying to make a difference by empowering herself and others. With the lyrics and rare music video for “Go Home”,  she tackles rape  and violence against women. With “Brighter Day”, Jett discusses social issues and the fight for hope.

Links and a video:

Everyday People” Live-

“Activity Grrrl”Audio-

“Brighter Day”Audio-

“Go Home” Music Video

Written by Serena Zola

May 12, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Album Review: The Next Day by David Bowie

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U.S. Release Date: March 12, 2013

David Bowie’s first album in ten years is witty and pleasurable, a wonderful way to embrace the past while reflecting on the present. By being himself and  alter-egos like The Thin White Duke, he is at his zenith of creativity.

One of the notable things on the album is the music composition. There are songs that have melodies that are reminiscent of Bowie’s past work. For instance, the song “Dirty Boys” echoes the song “Fame” from Bowie’s Young Americans album. “Heat”, the album’s final track, flashbacks to Bowie’s album Low.

Besides the music composition, there are the lyrics. They are like a work of art, like a painting you look at in a museum. If you find them interesting, then you start thinking, “What does this mean to me?” This is something Bowie has been known for since the sixties and to see that this hasn’t changed is very gratifying.

Last but not least, the vocals. Bowie is getting older, but his vocal range hasn’t changed too much. There are times where he sounds like is talking rather than singing, but various instruments (i.e. guitar, drums, etc.) makes up for this flaw. His best vocal work is on slow-paced songs like “Where Are We Now?”

Overall, this is an excellent album. This is Bowie’s best work since 1997’s Earthling. I recommend this album to anyone looking for authentic and intelligent music.

Written by Serena Zola

March 19, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Rock Songs From Animation: For Girls

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I was chatting with my cousin last week on Facebook and somehow she ended up giving me a link to a rock song from Scooby Doo and The Witch’s Ghost. That got me thinking about the a few other female rock songs I know from animation.

1.  Rose from the Japanese anime NANA (see video description for lyrics)-

This song is the first opening theme from the anime and it is sung by Anna Tsuchiya. In the anime, the character who sings it is Nana Osaki.

2. Remember from the American cartoon Danny Phantom

In the cartoon, the song is sung in the episode “Fanning the Flames” by a ghost named Ember McClain. Supposedly, the song tells the story of what she was like before she became a ghost. Her singing voice belongs to Robin Kimissle.

3.  We Are W.I.T.C.H. from the American cartoon W.I.T.C.H. (see video description for lyrics)-

This opening theme song is sung by Marion Raven.

4.  Hex Girl- from the American cartoon movie Scooby Doo and The Witch’s Ghost

In the movie, this song is sung by a female gothic rock band called The Hex Girls. The lead singer, Thorn, is voiced by Jennifer Hale.

Written by Serena Zola

November 8, 2012 at 8:14 PM

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