Home Leisure & Sports The National Museum of African American Music Celebrates Black Music Month

The National Museum of African American Music Celebrates Black Music Month

by Cass Teague

The National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, TN. (photo: NMAAM)

The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) invites you to join in as they commemorate Black Music Month with a weekend of events celebrating the power of black artistry. A Celebration of Legends returns next Thursday, June 17, 2021 as a benefit concert, with this year’s honorees, including the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Smokey Robinson, Chaka Khan, Lionel Richie, and Quincy Jones, receiving the coveted Rhapsody and Rhythm award. Friday, June 18 brings the State of Black Music Summit and State of Black Music report. Finally, Saturday, June 19 brings the Dedication Ceremony, then the Juneteenth Block Party; and, best of all, all these events are FREE! Note that you are encouraged to sign up online for the virtual events, and I suggest you do it ASAP.

“NMAAM showcases Black music excellence every day, but this year’s Black Music Month will be a special one as we celebrate the museum’s opening with phenomenal music icons and Black music fans across the world,” NMAAM President and CEO Henry Beecher Hicks III said. “We can’t wait to open our doors and share in the joy of Juneteenth weekend with our supporters, fans and a few musical legends, as well.”

Let’s start with Thursday’s event. For the museum’s seventh A Celebration of Legends Benefit Concert that will kick off the museum’s events on June 17 and be streamed online via YouTube and BlackMusicMonth.com, NMAAM has named artists who will perform or pay tribute to musical greats Chaka Khan, Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson and The Fisk Jubilee Singers. Tribute or performer artists will include Anthony Hamilton, Avery Sunshine, BeBe Winans, Brian Courtney Wilson, Christian Scott, Cory Henry, MAJOR., Mr. TalkBox, Raheem DeVaughn, Ruby Amanfu, Syleena Johnson and Tweet, with more to come. Angela Yee will be the host for the evening, and KevOnStage, Karen Civil and Danielle Young will be the hosts for NMAAM’s Red Carpet experience.

This year’s benefit concert will be streamed online on NMAAM’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/thenmaam. Those interested in viewing online can subscribe at BlackMusicMonth.com. The event will be live-streamed starting at 6:00 pm CDT from the Red Carpet. The benefit concert begins at 7:00 pm CDT and will feature special appearances and tribute performances.

The National Museum of African American Music adds to an all-star lineup for its Black Music Month events with Eric Roberson, Anthony Hamilton, Vince Gill, Bobby Brown, Bevy Smith and Misa Hylton, with more to come. Nissan joins Amazon as presenting sponsor for the weekend, with Hallmark Mahogany, AARP, HCA and Sony signing on as new sponsors.

GRAMMY-nominated singer, songwriter and producer Eric Roberson has also joined the Legends celebration as the event’s creative production director. Known as Erro, Roberson has more than three decades of experience in the entertainment industry, including recognitions and honors from the Soul Train Awards, BET Awards and more. As a producer and writer, he has provided his creative flair to projects with such notable artists as Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Charlie Wilson, Dwele and Vivian Green.

“Black Music Month’s mission is to honor and highlight the musical legacies of Black artists and to educate the world on the impact of their contributions to American music culture,” Roberson said. “What better way to showcase this than with performances and tributes to these Black music icons?”

Friday, June 18, 2021, Artists, industry leaders and culture creators will converge in Nashville, as NMAAM honors Black Music Month with its first State of Black Music Summit. This inaugural State of Black Music Summit will be a one-day, streamed event, featuring dynamic discourse and panels exploring the intersection of Black music, culture, sports, business and fashion with music industry leaders, artists and media personalities gracing the stage as panelists.

Panelists will include Bevy Smith, Misa Hylton, YoYo, Mike Muse and Mumu Fresh, with more to come. This event will also feature the premiere of the official State of Black Music podcast, as well as mark the release of the museum’s fourth State of Black Music report.  The event will be live-streamed starting at 9:30 am CDT.

Here’s the agenda for the inaugural State of Black Music Summit:

+ SESSION I: Intersection of Culture and Black Music

Sounds of Social Justice: The Responsibility of Music Industry to Impact Change

++ SESSION II: Intersection of Sports & Black Music

What’s Next in Innovation for Music and Sports

+++ SESSION III: The Intersection of Business and Black Music

The Blueprint: Creating Profit with Your Purpose

++++ SESSION IV: The Intersection of Fashion and Black Music

Pushing the Label: Using Sight and Sound as A Form of Self-Expression

+++++ SESSION V: State of Black Music Report Release

Highlight of NMAAM’s 4th Annual report on the reach and influence of Black music and artistry


Presented by Visit Music City Hosted by Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly of Lois York, Phil Thornton, and Tamone Bacon.

On Saturday, June 19, NMAAM will conclude the weekend of events with a dedication ceremony and a Juneteenth block party. Both events will be free and open to the public. In the spirit of celebration, NMAAM admission will be discounted on Saturday and Sunday, June 19 and 20. On those days, admission will be only $19 for adults and only $10 for children, seniors and military service members. Check the museum’s website and/or social media channels for the most up-to-date hours.

Saturday, NMAAM will officially commemorate the success of the Museum’s opening with a special dedication ceremony and confirm the museum’s place as a national cultural institution and authority in Black music. Featuring local and state dignitaries as well as a surprise announcement, the event will take place just outside the main entrance to the museum,  from 9:00 am – 10:00 am CDT, and is free and open to the public. It will also be live-streamed.

Afterwards, NMAAM will welcome the city of Nashville to join in a family-friendly block-party style outdoor event, featuring live music performances, stations from community partners, with food available at the Fifth and Broadway Assembly Hall. The event will take place on the rooftop of 5th + Broadway and is free and open to the public from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm CDT. RSVP requested on the NMAAM website.

NMAAM has set a goal of raising $1.2 million during Black Music Month and is calling on supporters and organizations to help them reach the goal. Donations and contributions made throughout the weekend will support NMAAM’s Museum Without Walls educational programs like My Music Matters, From Nothing to Something, and Sips and Stanzas, along with the museum’s future exhibitions and new programs.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter first declared June to officially be Black Music Month in the United States. NMAAM board member Dyana Williams was among the group of individuals who played an integral role in making this special Month a reality, and now it is celebrated throughout the country, and indeed, the world. For more information on Black Music Month, visit BlackMusicMonth.com.

The National Museum of African American Music opened its physical space on January 18, 2021, during the MLK Holiday Weekend. It is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to preserving African American music traditions and celebrating the central role African Americans have played in shaping American music. Based in Nashville  — “Music City” — Tennessee the museum shares the story of the American soundtrack by integrating history and interactive technology to honor the musical heroes of African American music of the past and the present. For more information, please visit www.blackmusicmuseum.org.   

Since 2014, NMAAM has celebrated music legends with the Rhapsody & Rhythm Award as a part of an annual Celebration of Legends Benefit Concert. Past honorees include Black music icons CeCe Winans, Nile Rodgers, Gloria Gaynor, George Clinton, Jody Watley, Keb’ Mo’ and more. Here are the 2021 Recipients:

Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan has had a legendary career in the music industry. The 10-time Grammy Award winner has released 22 albums and racked up 10 No. 1 Billboard magazine charted songs, seven RIAA-certified gold singles, and 10 RIAA-certified gold and platinum albums. Khan’s recorded music has produced over 2,000 catalog song placements. She has always made time to support and uplift her community. Her deep commitment to others led her to establish the Chaka Khan Foundation in 1999 which serves at risk women and children.

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones has encompassed the roles of composer, record producer, artist, film producer, arranger, conductor, instrumentalist, TV producer, record company executive, television station owner, magazine founder, multimedia entrepreneur and humanitarian. Among the multitude of awards that he has received for his contributions are an Emmy Award, seven Academy Award nominations and 28 Grammy Awards.


Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie has a discography of albums and singles that are second to none. He has more than 125 million albums sold worldwide, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, six Grammy Awards, and the distinctions of Music Cares Person of the Year in 2016 and Kennedy Center honoree in 2017. In 2018, Richie put his handprints and footprints in cement at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX in Hollywood, one of the oldest awards in Hollywood. The Tuskegee, Ala., native is a true musical icon.


Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson has a career spanning over four decades of hits. Once pronounced by Bob Dylan as America’s “greatest living poet,” acclaimed singer-songwriter. He has received numerous awards including the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Doctorate (Howard University), Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts Award from President George W. Bush. He has also been inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.



Fisk Jubilee Singers

The Fisk Jubilee Singers® are vocal artists and students at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., who sing and travel worldwide. The ensemble was selected as a recipient of the 2008 National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artists and patrons of the arts. The award was presented by President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush, during a ceremony at the White House. Additional awards received by the Fisk Jubilee Singers include a Dove Award, the Recording Academy Honors, Synergy Award and 2021 Grammy Award. The ensemble has been inducted into the Music City Walk of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.


This year’s benefit concert, sponsored by Amazon, will include a mix of in-person and virtual experiences to celebrate the recipients, with limited in-person seating.

“One of Amazon’s core values is to think big. We know that we can only do that when we all work together to recognize, elevate and celebrate all voices,” said Courtney Ross, Amazon Nashville’s senior manager of External Affairs. “We are excited to be NMAAM’s partner and the presenting sponsor for this year’s Black Music Month celebration. The work the museum is doing is essential to helping our wider community expand the way it thinks, and it’s an honor to be a part of it all.”

Nissan has joined Amazon as a presenting sponsor for NMAAM’s Black Music Month celebrations as the museum expands its roster of partnerships.

“Nissan is committed to supporting our Middle Tennessee community in meaningful ways,” said Allyson Witherspoon, vice president and chief marketing officer at Nissan U.S. “NMAAM represents what meaningful change can look like. Through their mission, their programming and their dedication to giving back to Nashville, they are a showcase for how the arts can spur positive change. We’re honored to be partnering with NMAAM and look forward to making Black Music Month a success.”

Along with Nissan, Hallmark Mahogany, AARP, HCA and Sony have also signed on as corporate sponsors for the weekend.

“AARP is proud to collaborate with Music City’s NMAAM to preserve the lasting contributions that African Americans have made on music genres around the world,” Edna Kane Williams, executive vice president/chief diversity officer at AARP. “Black Music Month is an essential time for all to reminisce, enjoy and celebrate the cultural influence of this legacy.”

“Hallmark Mahogany honors, celebrates and enhances relationships between families and friends by capturing what is most beloved and valued about Black culture,” said Alexis Kerr, vice president of Hallmark Mahogany. “Music is an important part of that culture, and it connects us in an emotional and meaningful way, so it was clear that we needed to partner with NMAAM and this year’s Black Music Month celebrations.”

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