In Washington D.C., long-time Republican political consultant Raynard Jackson moderated an all-star panel of Black Music Hall of Famers and up-and-coming talent to kick off Black Music Month last week.
The event, “A Republican Salute to Black Music Month: Celebrating the Past, Present, and Future,” was held in D.C.’s exclusive University Club, just four blocks from the White House had a panel including famed “Soul Man” creator Sam Moore, legendary R&B soul singer and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as his activist wife Joyce; Marlon Jackson, one of the original members of the Jackson 5; multi-Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer and current Ethical Music Entertainment recording head Carvin Haggins; and his company’s rising star, recording artist BriaMarie.
Raynard Jackson serves as Chair of the newly created Black Americans for a Better Future, a Federal 527 independent committee Super PAC established for the express purpose of getting more Black voters involved in the Republican Party.
The Conservative moderator kicked off the round-robin panel discussion by observing that the currently-sitting Black president had not taken the time to recognize June’s long-standing tradition as Black Music Month.
“Since 1979 every president has paid homage to Black Music Month,” said Jackson. “I’m amazed that President Obama issued a proclamation naming June as Gay Pride Month and nothing can be found from the White House on Black Music Month,” he noted.
Black Music Month was first observed in 1979 by then-President Jimmy Carter, under the encouragement of legendary songwriter-producer Kenny Gamble and the then well-known Sound of Philadelphia.
However, years after Carter publicly declared that first Black Music Month, Gamble’s ex-wife Dyana Williams learned that a presidential proclamation to that effect had never been signed, meaning that the celebration was not officially on the books.
Williams decided to take it upon herself to lay the groundwork for the passing of the African-American Music Bill, which formally established Black Music Month as a national observance.
President Bill Clinton finally signed off on the African-American Music Bill in 2000, with behind-the-scenes help from long-time Philadelphia Congressman Chaka Fattah.
During the panel discussion, Sam Moore and his manager wife Joyce focused on the inequities that “legacy” performers such as Sam & Dave have struggled with in an attempt to receive their fair share of music royalties. “There is no reciprocity for overseas collections under the currently amended Broadcast Performance Rights legislation,” noted Joyce Moore, a longtime veteran of Capitol Hill lobbying efforts.
Ethical Music Entertainment record label CEO Carvin Haggins echoed Joyce Moore’s comments on the continuing issue of performance royalties. “BMI and ASCAP are the same, collecting money from radio and getting rich,” he said. “The sad part is that radio programmers still control what we hear. Only when we raise the standard as a community will we get the programmers to respond,” said Haggins, who has a proven track record of producing and writing music for Justin Timberlake, Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Chris Brown, Ledisi, Raheem DeVaughn and Keyshia Cole.
Criticizing the quality and style of music and music production today, Marlon Jackson noted that today’s music “is stiff and lacks the pulse of studio produced music. Today, the kids just sample stuff and produce computerized music that has no depth,” he said.
“The Jackson music of my youth, often referred to as ‘evergreen’ music that appeals to the younger demographic, is more popular than ever,” said the Jackson Five original, who still feels he was blessed to share his family’s music with and travel the world.
“Today’s music is terrible,” he continued, “and I don’t believe in YouTube and streaming music distribution because artists are getting robbed.”
In a slap at the declining quality of public school music education, Haggins said, “Stripping arts education has also deprived today’s children of their ability to develop the values and respect for life itself.”