Future of Black Girls in Music

SZA (left) and FKA twigs (right) are boldly redefining the future of Black girls in music

SZA (left) and FKA twigs (right) are boldly redefining the future of Black girls in music

SZA? FKA twigs? If their names are not unconventional enough, their music certainly is. Several critics and fans alike have used phrases like “experimental R&B” and “avant-pop” in an attempt to describe their sound, but neither of those descriptions is as yet able to truly do their music justice. While their sound may not necessarily submit to easy, or straightforward categorization, there is undoubtedly a certain neo-futuristic element to their music that has propelled both of these small town girls to stardom. However, beyond merely rewriting the sound of music today, SZA and FKA twigs are—perhaps even unbeknownst to them—redefining the traditional cultural expectations of what Black girls in the music industry should sound and look like.
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Progressive Pupil’s Top 5 Favorite Holiday Songs (This Year)

Album Artwork for Ray Charles' and Betty Carter's "Baby, It’s Cold Outside"

Album Artwork for Ray Charles’ and Betty Carter’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

Happy Holidays! As we celebrate our holidays this season, we wanted to take you on a nostalgic trip by presenting you the top five favorite holiday classics performed by Black artists. These artists put a unique spin on these tunes that always brings us peace and joy!

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Icon: Bola De Nieve

The song in this video is an AfroCuban lullaby called “Drume Negrita.” In the song, an AfroCuban mother is trying to sing her baby daughter to sleep. She tells her baby that if she goes to sleep, she’ll buy her a new crib with a cap on it and a bell. I heard this song a lot growing up; when my father was feeling especially nostalgic for home he would sing “Drume Negrita” to himself. In an effort to connect his kids to their culture, he would share little bits of information about the song with us from time to time to help us understand its cultural significance. Like the fact that pronunciation in the song was bit different from standard Spanish because it was sung in an AfroCuban dialect—so “Duermes” turned into “Drume.”

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Glossary: AfroFuturism

1974 poster for "Space is the Place" starring the Legendary Sun Ra. Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

1974 poster for “Space is the Place” starring the Legendary Sun Ra. Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

What is Afrofuturism?

In 1909 Filipo Tommaso Marinetti launched the Italian Futurist movement in his Futurist Manifesto. Among its many principles, FT Marinetti and his fellow futurists sought to make people producers of their society rather than just consumers. They were obsessed with the idea of stretching the imagination, robots, technology and war. They wanted to destroy libraries, schools, museums, and all history in hopes that society would cleanse itself.

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Icons: The Wu Tang Clan

Wu Tang Clan founding member Rza, rendered as the Buda by artist Yuko Shimizu.  Image courtesy of Yukoart.com

Wu Tang Clan founding member Rza, rendered as the Buda by artist Yuko Shimizu. Image courtesy of Yukoart.com

Wu-Tang Clan gained wide-spread notoriety for their unique sound and lyrical skills when their self-produced single “Protect ya Neck” was released in 1992. Shortly after, the group signed with Loud/RCA Records and released the album “Enter the Wu (36 Chambers)” in 1993. The album’s signature style was designed as a complete artistic package inspired by themes from Kung-Fu movies of the ‘70s and 80’s, like the 36th Chamber of Shaolin, and Shaolin and Wu Tang, among others. The album had a mix of samples from these films and their lyricism was humorous, vivid and spoke of some of the hardships faced in Staten Island, NY, which the group nicknamed Shaolin.

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The Joys of Being an Everyday Artist

Independent Rock Band, The Skins. Image courtesy of theskinsband.com

Independent Rock Band, The Skins. Image courtesy of theskinsband.com

A few times each school year a student with creative leanings comes into my office hours and bemoans the fact that their parents are completely unsupportive of their unprofitable artistic aspirations. “It’s like doctor, lawyer or accountant are the only jobs they’ve ever heard of!” they state while rolling their eyes and throwing their heads back in exasperation.

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