Uplifting songs by Black artists aren’t just for Black History Month, but all year long. The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity. That’s the theme for Black History Month this year. Let’s add upliftment and empowerment to that too. Both go hand in hand in representing our story. Not to mention, you can catch this vibe in the books and movies as well!
Pull up your Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify and make sure you have these songs on your playlist:
1. “Feeling Myself” – Nicki Minaj ft. Beyoncé (2014)
As said in the song title, “Feeling Myself” gives listeners the encouragement to feel amazing in their own skin. The song has a catchy beat that’ll make anyone want to sing and dance along. Minaj said in an interview with Time “‘I love it.’ I knew girls were going to be posting pictures on Instagram saying ‘#feelingmyself.’ I told Beyoncé that. I was like, ‘You already know what’s going to happen.’” Nicki Minaj Interview: Beyoncé on Feelin’ Myself, Flawless Video | Time This energy birthed a song that will never go out of style.
2. “U.N.I.T.Y” – Queen Latifah (1993)
The ’90s gave us several impactful songs that brought awareness to social and cultural topics. “U.N.I.T.Y” does this with a clear call for men to respect women or face the consequences. The Grammy award-winning song was featured on Latifah’s album “Black Reign.”
3. “Just Fine” – Mary J. Blige (2007)
Mary J. always knows how to get the party jumping with her songs. In “Just Fine,” she shares an uplifting attitude towards life. Blige said to MTV News, “That song was written based on me having a good day,” Blige told SongFacts. You know, I can have 20 bad days. I can have as many bad days as anyone. But I choose to say, ‘I’m just fine.’ Right now. So it’s OK to have those days.”
4. “Respect” – Aretha Franklin (1967)
Do we even need to explain? Before Beyoncé gave us, “Who Runs The World“, the Queen of Soul blessed us with R-E-S-P-E-C-T (a C, not a K). A classic song, and one of Franklin’s most well-known hits. The song is a Black Woman’s anthem and the message needs no explanation.
5. “Alright” – Kendrick Lamar (2015)
2015 was a big year for the African American community, with protests for injustice for the black race. Once Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright” was released hook of the song, was used as chants during protests. Black Lives Matter, founded in 2013, sparked a movement that is still alive today. “Alright” became affiliated with the movement and a popular chant at demonstrations.
6. “Beautiful Skin” – Goodie Mob (1998)
As said in the opening lyrics, “this particular song right here is dedicated to the Black woman.” Goodie Mob made this song to celebrate both the inner and outer beauty of all Black women.
7. “Lean On Me” – “Bill Withers (1972)
Bill Withers has many hits but “Lean On Me” is his most well-known. In a 2004 interview, Withers told Songfacts about the original inspiration for the song: “I bought a little piano and I was sitting there just running my fingers up and down the piano…In the course of doing the music, that phrase crossed my mind, so then you go back and say, ‘OK, I like the way that phrase, Lean On Me, sounds with this song.'”
8. “Git Up, Git Out” – OutKast (1994)
“Git Up, Git Out” tells a story about the dangers of not doing anything with your life and is a call to action for its listeners. The song also features two members of the group Goodie Mob, where they all rap about their upbringings. “It also takes an honest look at addiction and how people can get caught up in that lifestyle, unaware of how it’s dragging them down.” CeeLo Green Details ‘Git Up Git Out’ Lyrics From Outkast’s 1994 Classic Debut’ | HipHopDX
9. “What’s Going On”– Marvin Gaye (1971)
Gaye was inspired to make this song by the significant social events that were happening at the time. The 1965 Watts Riots had recently taken place in Los Angeles, Gaye asked himself: “‘With the world exploding around me, how am I supposed to keep singing love songs?'” The Story of… ‘What’s Going On’ by Marvin Gaye – Smooth (smoothradio.com)
10 . “Freedom” – Beyonce (2016)
If anyone knows how to make a statement, it’s Queen B. Who could forget that iconic 2016 performance at the BET Awards with Kendrick Lamar. Bey stomped on all our oppressors in one show-stopping piece. From Alton Sterling to the five officers shot in Dallas, 2016 was another traumatizing year for the books, and “Freedom” encompasses all of the frustration, anger, and drive to keep pushing forward for change.
11. “Black Butterfly” – Deniece Williams (1984)
This song shows off Black power and perseverance while making listeners feel like they’re soaring across the room. The lyric “tell your sons and daughters what the struggle brings,” reminds us that the progress made up to this point must not be taken for granted.
I’m Sylah Ferguson, 20 years old and I was born and raised in Albany, Georgia. I am a Senior at Albany State University majoring in Mass Communications with a minor in Criminal Justice. On campus, I am apart of the radio station Real 92.7 for the school, there I work as an on-air personality and Music Director. I’ve had a strong love for music at a young age, and growing up I listened to a variety of genres of music. Writing has always been one of my strongest talents and favorite hobbies.