A Letter to Black Music by: J. Ivy / by admin

Before there was you… Before there was music,There was the drum and its beat. Before the beat there was the heartbeat, And before the pulse of man, There was this precious sound in God’s head That he wanted the whole World to hear. So He/She created creative creations. Birthed ryhtmatic situations, vibrations, Accompanied by the gift of demonstrations. Before there were demos or president’s of music driven corporations, There was this sound. This sound that would surround your soul, lift your spirits, Before we had ears to hear it, Or concerts were filled with crowds that would go wild and cheer it, There was this sound. Before congas, bongos, and djembes were used in tribal celebrations, Before Africans were transported to an American destination, Before traditions transformed and new styles of expression were born, There was this sound. Before Blacks were allowed to read or write, Before church choirs would ease the pain when they would unite, Before Harriet used spirituals for codes to free her people in the midst of the night, Like Wade in the Water…

Before slaves work songs became spirituals, Before spirituals became Gospel, Before Mahalia Jackson moved any congregation, Before Thomas Andrew Dorsey became the “Father of Gospel,” There was this sound. Before Blacks picked up guitars and harmonicas and hit the local juke joint, Before Gospel became the Blues, Before the Blues moved from cities like New Orleans to St. Louis and Chicago, Before Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, or Robert Johnson, There was this sound. Before the Blues became Jazz, Before Ella Fitzgerald became an Apollo Legend, Before Louis Armstrong became the “Founding Father of Jazz,” Before Miles Davis took trumpet lessons at Julliard, Before Coltrane put a saxophone to his lips, Before Duke Ellington, Dizzy, Monk, and Cab Calloway. Before Count Basie. Before the Regal, the Cotton Club, or the brutal honesty of the Apollo, Before Ethel Waters, Lena Horne, or Sara Vaughn. Before Josephine Baker. Before Billie Holiday seduced Harlem, Before the Harlem Renaissance, There was this sound. Before Jazz became Rock and Roll, Before Little Richard invented it, Before Little Richard was the creator, the originator, and the architect. Before Chuck Berry, Before Bo Diddley was put into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. There was this sound. Before Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Before Beale Street in Memphis, Before 47th Street in Chicago, Before 125th Street in Harlem, Before the South had Marching Bands, Before B.B. King, Buddy Guy, or Bobby Blu Band, There was this sound. Before Nat King Cole, Before Rock n’ Roll became Soul, Before James Brown became the Godfather and Aretha became the Queen, Before J.B. sang “I’m Black and I’m Proud,” Before Ike met Tina, Before Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, Before Harry Belafonte was the first person to ever to go platinum, Before Sammy Davis Jr. sang “Mr. Bojangles,” Before Nipsey Russell joined the hustle, There was this sound. Well before Detroit became Motown, Before Berry Gordy, Before Smokie Robinson and the Miracles, Before Lil Stevie touched the keys, Before Diana Ross and Gladys Knight, Before the Jackson 5, There was this sound. Before Patti Labelle, Before Mahalia and Martin Marched while singing “We Shall Over Come,” Before Mahalia sang “Amazing Grace” at the Kings Home going, Before Ozzie Davis and Ruby Dee, Before Bill Withers sang “Ain’t No Sunshine,” There was this sound. Before Rhythm and Blues, Before Lionel Richie and the Commodores, Before Barry White, Before Ray Charles wrote “Georgia,” Before Roy Ayers and Pharaoh Sanders, Before the Temptations, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Isaac Hayes, Donny Hathaway, and Al Green, There was this sound. Before the Isley Brothers was the reason for a lot of us being born, Before Ernie Barnes painted album covers for Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, Before George Clinton made it funky, Before Jimi Hendrix rocked it, Before Bob Marley sang Freedom Songs, Before Rick James met that “Superfreak,” Before Luther Vandross had an hypnotic voice, Before Quincy scored “The Wiz,” Before Soul Train, There was this sound. Before Mike had an iced out glove and a song named “Thriller,” Before Prince rode a motorcycle through “Purple Rain under a “Cherry Moon,” There was this sound. Before the Last Poets became the “Godfathers of Rap,” Before GrandMaster Flash invented the scratch, Before Kool Herc, Before the Bronx birthed Hip-Hop, Before the 4 elements, Before the M.C. and the D.J., The Breaker and the Artist, Before the Sugar Hill Gang and Kurtis Blow, Before Run DMC had Adidas and a mic, Before Jam Master Jay, Before Russell Simmons had a plan, Before 6 minutes, 6 minutes Doug E. Fresh you’re on, Before Slick Rick the Ruler, Before the Fat Boys, Before Big Daddy Kane was a Smooth Operator, Before the “Vapors,” Before Biz Markie and Kid n’ Play, Before 1,2,3 the crew is called BDP, Before KRS-One and Public Enemy, Before L.L. and Kool Moe Dee, Before Krush Groove and Beat Street hit the theatres, Before Hammer “Turned this Motha Out!” Before DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Before Salt and Pepa, Queen Latifah, and MC Lyte, Before Eric B. & Rakim, GangStarr, DJ Premier and Pete Rock, Before Yo MTV Raps, Before Too Short, Before Ice-T and N.W.A., Before Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and D.O.C., Before “Self Destruction” and “We All in the Same Gang,” There was this sound. Before “We Are the World,” Before Janet Jackson was Penny, Before New Edition complained to the “Telephone Man,” Before Whitney stole our hearts, Before Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, The Jungle Brothers, and Black Sheep, Before Nas was illmatic, Before Puffy met Biggie, Before Tupac made us all “Raise our Heads Up,” Before Mary J. Blidge sang with Father M.C., Before Mary was named the Queen of Hip-hop, Before Whitney named Bobby the King of R&B, Before Boys II Men and Jodeci, Before Lauryn, Wyclef, and Pras became the Fugees, Before Dame met Jay-Z, Before Spike Lee made “Mo Better Blues,” Before Common Sense dropped “Resurrection,” Before Dr. Dre met Snoop, Before Big L, Babyface, R. Kelly, Jermaine Dupri, Master P, TLC and Aaliyah, Before Outkast, Before the Roots came with the whole band, Before Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Tarrey Torae, Alicia Keys, and India Arie, Before 9th Wonder and Little Brother, Before Usher, Before Lil John and Ludacris, Before Pharrell and the Neptunes, Before Kanye West named himself the best, Before J. Ivy named John Stephens the Legend, Before Jamie got his Oscar for becoming Ray, There was this sound, Before Black History was History, Before there were mics, speakers, radios, records, jukeboxes, 8 tracks, cassettes, cd’s, or headphones for your Ipods, There was this sound. Before the pulse of man, There was this sound in God’s head that he wanted the whole World to hear, And He/She named it Music, So from the bottom of my heart and with every ounce of my Soul, I Thank you Music… for Everything, Because I truly do love you…..

Musically Yours, J. Ivy