Funk originated in the 1960s. This convergence of jazz, soul and rhythm and blues became a form of urban dance music. Funk is a derivative of hard bop, a jazz style, which was often called “funky”. This incorporated the elements of strong drum beats, a groovy bass line, and horns with many polyrhythms. This genre also introduced the use of a synthesizer incorporating technology.
The rise of funk music occurred along with the Black Power Movement and the final years of the Civil Rights Movement. Important performers such as Larry Graham and funk influencers such as James Brown were significant in those movements. During those times, there were many lyrical themes associated with social and political change. There was also a sense of pride due to the resilience of black people shown in songs such as, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”.
After the recession, there was not as much hope in the black community. The musicians responded by creating a “party” theme in funk music to lift the spirits of black people and encourage to be happy. James Brown as well as Sly and the Family Stone, an important jazz band, created this music as an escape from the social issues. Many of the performers of funk music were recording artists and profited off some radio play and tours.
Funk music has influenced disco, hip-hop and the evolvement of rhythm and blues. Funk is a testament to the resilience of black people. This music reflected the unity of black people and their persistence to not let their social or political status define them. Black people had decided to choose their own destiny, starting with their mindset.
“Funk is a black thing. There is a need to express yourself as an African American. You need to be your own person” – Danny Webster