Danyel Smith's Black Girl Songbook Is Giving Black Women In Music Their Flowers While They Can Still Smell Them

Illustration for article titled Danyel Smith's Black Girl Songbook Is Giving Black Women In Music Their Flowers While They Can Still Smell Them
Illustration: Spotify/The Ringer


As a devoted R&B head with aspirations to one day exorcise my hip-hop demons, I’ve waited an eternity for a Black woman to create a podcast that gives other Black women in the music industry their due. That sisterhood between sistas is often duplicated but never replicated, and there’s nothing like watching Black women heap praise upon each other while bonding over their shared experiences.


It appears my passionate prayers have finally been answered, as veteran culture journalist Danyel Smith—whose list of receipts include Billboard, Vibe Magazine, Rolling Stone, and ESPN’s Undefeated—will helm the Spotify Original Black Girl Songbook. This long-overdue podcast, which comes courtesy of The Ringer, will feature in-depth discussions with some of your favorite songwriters, producers, and artists as it explores the songs that have provided the soundtrack to our lives while helping to shape the landscape of American music forever.

For its debut episode, Smith tackles the incomparable Whitney Houston and her soul-stirring performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl. January 27 marked the 30th anniversary of Whitney’s iconic set, and it serves as the perfect launchpad for Black Girl Songbook.

“It’s such a complex song for Black people to sing,” Smith explained to Essence. “The world has changed dramatically in the past few years because Colin Kaepernick kneeled during performances of it. So, it’s all just very relevant right now. I think now that everyone’s worked so hard across the country to get this new administration in, it’s time to take a look at [Whitney’s rendition] and how Whitney kind of brought us all together.”

Deborah Cox, Houston’s friend and fellow Arista Records label mate, will also be making an appearance on the first episode. So if you’re a music head like me, I already know you’ll be tuning in.

Black Girl Songbook premieres on February 4 only on Spotify.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.