The often overlooked contributions of Black pioneers to music has long been a source of criticism in the industry.
In particular, rock music has faced its share of detractors over the whitewashing of its ethnic roots. For example, Elvis Presley’s iteration of Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton’s song “Hound Dog.” Black pioneers like her have gone years without acknowledgement.
Now, Chicago-based music education company School of Rock is taking steps to change that. In a press release on Wednesday (October 7), it announced it is expanding its curriculum to highlight the contributions by Black artists to the genesis Rock and Roll such as Etta James, Ray Charles, Prince, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
"Just as importantly, popular music opens a door to history, we have an obligation to honor those Black artists without whom there would be no Rock and Roll, and by extension no School of Rock," said Rob Price, CEO of School of Rock.
This announcement comes amid racial reckoning that has taken place over these past few months. In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, numerous record labels ceased use of the “urban” to describe music traditionally considered Black. The Recording Academy, the parent organization behind the annual Grammy Awards ceremony, followed suit and renamed several of its award categories.
(Photo by James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)