Since 1979, June has been designated as Black Music Month. The annual celebration was the result of a collaboration between songwriter and producer Kenneth Gamble, of Gamble and Huff, and broadcasters Ed Wright and Dyana Williams, who lobbied then-President Jimmy Carter for a month, like Country Music Month in October, that celebrated the business of African Americans in entertainment. Fortunately for the trio, they had friends in high places.
Kenneth Gamble: The Black Music Association was a trade association at the time, and it was an educational forum for young producers and writers — African Americans in particular — where they could discuss the benefits of the music industry. History says that most African Americans in the industry were robbed of their songs and their property. The Black Music Association spoke to the marketing of black music. The whole theme was “Black Music Is Green,” and it dealt with the economics of African-American music. It was very helpful not only to us but also the industry at large.
Then the Black Music Association created Black Music Month, which was another original, because October was Country Music Month. What happens when you have a music month? You get additional marketing dollars, and it helps to market and promote the artists. It’s still working, because right now we’re talking about something that started 34 years ago.