Introduction

R&B is a genre that has changed naturally over the years. Starting all the way back in the 1940s, R&B has had influences from many other genres and grew upon each of them to make it its own. Today’s R&B is much different than the starting songs made, but I believe we can still see the same influences in the music as before, specifically when it comes to music made by black women. Black women share many similar struggles and worries, which makes music produced by us have a familiar feeling. Looking at black female artists from the past to the present in R&B, can show this connection that we, as black women, have.

The Past

Looking at the start of R&B as a genre, we can see that there has been many black female artists to take the forefront. From the 50s to 60s, there were artists like Aretha Franklin, the Supremes, Etta James and much more. These artists went on to popularize the genre for the black community, while also bringing in there own elements. R&B, in it’s self, is a genre that incorporates the a lot of influence from other genres popular to the black community. Styles from blues, jazz and even gospel can be shown in R&B music. Through the music these artist produced, we can see the influence from these genres. For example, in the Supremes’ song “the Composer”, you can clearly hear the jazz influence through the guitar and horn elements. In Aretha Franklin’s “Say a Little Prayer for You,” there are gospel influences in the melodies sung by Franklin and her background vocalists. These songs also share similar messages about loving someone and caring for them dearly. The songs were big hits for black females of the time, due to their very relatable messages. We can also see messages just like this through most of the black female artist of the time and the future artists as well. 

 

The Present

R&B by black female artist in today’s society may be a little different from before but is still showcasing relatable messages that many black women understand. Songs like “Girl Like Me’ by Jazmine Sullivan featuring Her, showcase the struggle of dating in today’s as a black women. Sister duo’s, Chloe x Halle, song “Warrior” speaks on having strength to stand through the hard times, which is a message we have seen a lot through black history. Many other songs from black artists today, such as SZA, Nao, Ella Mai, etc., have also made music that has made ways through the black female communities and have put out feelings of understanding that only those who look like us would understand. Similar to that of the past music, black female artists today have continue to unify other black women with their songs and push us towards a better understanding of the future.

The Future

R&B is one of my favorite genres and I was lucky to have grown up listening many powerful black female musicians that could inspire. As I look at the present day of the R&B genre and look back all the way to the beginning, I have seen another area in which black women have given there all and have made amazing content. I believe R&B will continue to be a big hit in major music for the black community, even with some influence from other genres. In particular to black female artists, I believe that our stories and messages all the way from the past will continue to be presented in this genre and used to uplift black women everywhere. R&B is a genre that not only is influenced by many others, but is a big influence to the future of black women expression through art.

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