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African American Music Appreciation Month: Queens of Pop & Soul

June is the month dedicated to the appreciation of African American music. It was first created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 as Black Music Month and renamed by President Barak Obama to African American Music Appreciation Month in 2009.


Pop Culture

Women in the soul genre were chart-topping acts that delivered songs about love and life experiences which even impacted how the nation saw Civil Rights issues in the 1960s. These influential women in music often times opened the door for other African American women in pop and soul to share in the limelight.

Check out MPLs Spotify Playlist of influential Pop and Soul artists! 

What is Pop Music?

"Any song that tops charts or plays on the radio is often labeled 'pop.' However, there are some defining characteristics of pop songs: 

  • They're short: Songs usually range 2-4 minutes in length. 
  • Basic format: Most pop songs have a standard verse-chorus form. The chorus usually has repetitive lyrics and melodies, making it easy to recognize and remember. 
  • Universal appeal: Unlike most genres, pop is designed to be liked by, well, everyone! The themes are often universal and include love, broken hearts, and feel-good sentiments." -- Hoffman Academy


"A genre born of the Afro-American experience, soul music sprang from the blues clubs, churches and street corners of the U.S., where R&B, gospel and doo-wop rang out in chorus. When those three styles collided, soul's big bang occured." -- Lois Wilson, The Telegraph

Aretha Franklin (1942- 2018)

"The world had not heard a voice like Franklin’s — one that felt so modern, and captured the range of emotions felt by the country, especially during the political, cultural and racial upheaval of the 1960s and ’70s... She blended gospel with jazz, blues and R&B. She took on the world of rock ‘n’ roll. It was this ability to embody the spectrum of African-American musical traditions that earned her the title, Queen of Soul." -- Gretchen Frazee, PBS

Whitney Houston (1962- 2012)

"At her peak, Houston was the golden girl of the music industry. From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world's best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful and peerless vocals rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen... She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey." -- Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press

Beyoncé (1981- )

"It’s almost impossible to think of an entertainer right now who commands the level of interest or respect that Beyoncé does... she brilliantly navigates the straits of giving everybody a great show while also offering just enough of a glimpse of the real Beyoncé to keep us fascinated." -- Emily VanDerWerff, Vox