The influence of African American artists on the history of music is now being showcased and celebrated like never before. This is thanks to the new – and long-awaited – National Museum of African American Music in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Among the artists excited about this important museum is star Darius Rucker.
The new museum, which opened on Monday (Jan. 18) gives visitors an insight into how African American influences shaped the music – in a variety of genres – we know today. Unfortunately, the influence of Black artists has often been downplayed by others. More often than not, it has been completely ignored throughout music history.
Darius Rucker talks about this in a recent interview with CBS This Morning. He is a national chair for the museum.
Darius Rucker Explains African American Influences on Country Music
“The guys who were really starting country music were so influenced by those blues singers, those black blues singers,” Darius Rucker said. “You know, anything you want to talk about (African American) influence is there.”
Rucker was filmed while touring the museum and he is in in awe of the history presented before him.
“These guys and ladies played in juke joints and traveling the chitlin’ circuit and all that stuff like that,” Rucker said. “For them to do that and for us to now be playing Madison Square Garden with music they basically started, really makes you sit back and go, ‘wow.'”
CBS journalist Anthony Mason described the new museum as “a celebration” during the featured segment on national television. The museum’s goal is to focus on the contributions of African Americans to every genre of music. Also, “the exhibits provide historical context to rewrite that story for the public.”
CBS This Morning also interviewed H. Beecher Hicks III, president and CEO of the National Museum of African American Music for the segment. He said the museum “really walks through the history of American music, told through an African American prism. Everything from slave songs to hip hop and everything in-between. Really, all of that is American music and that’s what we celebrate in the museum.”
The museum includes seven galleries, according to Mason’s reporting. This includes a gallery titled “One Nation Under a Groove.” This gallery focuses on the rise of rhythm and blues following World War II and during the Civil Rights Movement.
Grammy-winning artist H.E.R. also shared her views on the role of Black artists in the history of music with CBS.
“Music is a language everybody speaks,” H.E.R. told CBS. Later she said, “In this museum, you’re going to see your influences, influences. …”
Museum President Hopes to Inspire Youth
When asked by Mason what he hoped the younger generation will learn from the museum, Beecher said:
“That kids of color, black and brown kids will really see that this is a place that really celebrates them and their culture and their contribution to America – realizing that they, too, are a part of really what built and has made America what it is.”
The museum is home to more than 1,600 pieces of memorabilia and artifacts, according to the CBS report.
You can watch a clip of the CBS This Morning segment about the National Museum of African American Music below. The segment is part of the new “Unifying America” project undertaken by CBS. According to Mason, the goal of the project is to recognize “people who are trying to right injustices and bring communities together.”