George G.M. James writes in Stolen Legacy, a history of ancient Egypt, that Kemetic (Egyptian) people believed music to be a “combining of the spheres.” The spheres to which he refers are temporal and spiritual. And music brings them together in harmony.
Say It Loud! A Celebration of Black Music in America is a lesson in music history that combines the spheres of black music and sociology. It’s a wonderfully balanced look at the influence of black music on America’s sociopolitical landscape. The six-disc set takes the listener on a journey from Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” to Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage.” Along the way, it revisits the deep spirituality of Sam Cooke’s “Touch the Hem of His Garment,” Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat (Day-O)” and N.W.A.’s “Express Yourself.” The cross-section is so respectful of all forms of the black musical experience it’s inspiring. And in between, clips of speeches and commentary from people as legendary as Sammy Davis, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall, to voices as common as a Southern janitor, wax reminiscent on the issues of the day, whether it be the ’40s or the ’90s.
Rhino has given us a timeless gift. Say It Loud is a definitive work, and a must-have for enthusiasts seeking to broaden their musical and cultural perspective.
Find more great recordings to grab and wrap this season, including a DIY Detroit garage-rock box set, and Rhino's comprehensive collections of '70s soul ("a six-disc trip through the funkiest era in American music") and Graham Central Station ("chicken soup for the soul"). Metro Times musical experts also report on the year's very best jazz and classical recordings. There's something for everyone!
Khary Kimani Turner writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].