The Economic Origins of Black Music Month

The man who helped create it tells us that marketing was always the goal. The rest is gravy.

Kenneth Gamble (Getty Images)
Kenneth Gamble (Getty Images)

TR: Did President Carter have an awkward dance moment, like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?

KG: No, he was pretty cool. He just sat and enjoyed the music. It was a great night because it gave the country an opportunity to celebrate the music that so many people had stolen from the rightful creators, so we could give credit where it was due. I think it was a great move on Jimmy Carter’s behalf …

TR: You mentioned the marketing dollars allocated by companies in support of Black Music Month. Do you think those efforts are still needed, or is Black Music Month primarily a cultural celebration today?

KG: It’s absolutely still needed. Fortunately, so many institutions have created their own Black Music Month agenda, celebrating people like Miles Davis or Bessie Smith. It’s a time to remember the great African-American artists and the contributions that we’ve made to American music.

Hillary Crosley is the New York bureau chief at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.