In honor of Black History Month, the works of four famous African-American individuals are being recognized for having inspired and shaped black culture into what it is known today. Although the list of talented African-Americans goes on, these four artists are being remembered for their outstanding work in society; for their contributions in entertainment and in the fine arts.
With his most notable works centered during the Harlem Renaissance, Lawrence primarily focused his art to portray the African-American experience in the United States. He also focused on social issues such as war, religion and civil rights. One of his famous works, ‘The Migration Series,’ was a collection of over 30 paintings narrating the Great Migration; where African-Americans arrived to the North to live in more righteous conditions than those from the South’s. His art style can be classified towards cubism with aspects of muralism, while using neutral tones to display unity for every piece. He was also a professor at the University of Washington.
An award-winning writer, performer and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou is well known for her literary works in “I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing,” Broadway productions like “Calypso Heat Wave” following with an album titled “Miss Calypso.” Her famous poetry collections include ‘Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Die,’ ‘Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well’ ‘And Still I Rise.’ She was also engaged in civic activities in Africa, helping set up with Malcom X the “Organization of Afro-American Unity.” Themes that are noted in her literature include love, loss, struggle, racism, and discrimination.
Most recognized for his jazz trumpeting skills, composing and singing, Armstrong is considered a legend in New Orleans and the jazz community for his contributions to music. His love for music emerged in his childhood when receiving music lessons in a home for boys. From then on, he pursued his passion by playing with local bands at parties, dances, bars and riverboats. From these experiences, he would meet other jazz legends and began networking, resulting in opportunities to play in bands in Chicago, New York, with later on touring in Europe, Africa and Asia. One of his most notable songs, “What A Wonderful World,” became a No. 1 hit worldwide, with a heavy use of vocals
18 time Grammy award-winning singer and pianist, Aretha Franklin is a widely-known black female musician who is also the first female artist to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Her religious upbringing contributed to her recording her first gospel album titled “Songs of Faith,” following along with various gospel singles. She signed with Columbia Records, releasing another album, “Aretha,” with having two songs reaching the R&B Top 10 and ranked No. 37 in the charts for “Rock-a-bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody.” Her music genre can be categorized into pop and blues, with a hint of gospel roots.