Black Music Month Celebration Highlights Variety of Artists, Genres

Music Moves is hosting in-person and virtual musical performances throughout June.

Music Moves singer
Photo courtesy: B. Watts Photography

After celebrating Black Music Month with a series of virtual events in 2020, Music Moves program director Anthony Ball says he’s excited to return to live performances this year.

“We’re wanting to get out and get away from the virtual life as much as possible…that’s where live music belongs,” Ball says.

Music Moves is a Northwest Arkansas-based nonprofit with a mission to make Black music accessible to students and communities through performance and education. This year’s celebration of Black Music Month will include both in-person and virtual programming.

On the virtual side of things, Music Moves is partnering with KISS 105.3FM to present Freestyle Fridays, a weekly Arkansas vs. Oklahoma hip hop showcase. Arkansas artist Bando Bando takes on Steph Simon from Oklahoma tonight. The program airs at 7:30 p.m. each Friday in June on KISS 105.3 FM. 

Sunday Service highlights Gospel musicians each Sunday. Performances are broadcast via Music Moves’ Facebook page and Youtube channel. The finale will be a live, in-person concert at 6 p.m. June 27 at Prairie Street Live in Fayetteville. The performer and details about tickets will be announced in the coming days, Ball says. 

Black Music Month FlyerVideos of performances will remain on Music Moves’ social media platforms so people can watch them at their convenience. They can also look back at performances from the 2020 celebration.

“Last year we got over 60,000 views so we’re expecting to beat that this year,” Ball says.

Most of Music Moves’ live programming is scheduled for next weekend. June 19, the nonprofit is partnering with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville to host a Juneteenth celebration featuring DeeDee Jones and Spud Howard. The musicians will explore the genre of Black protest music from the 1970s to the present. Contemporary jazz saxophonist Eldredge Jackson will open The Sounds of Freedom concert.

On June 20, Music Moves and Interform will host Freedom Festival in downtown Springdale. The festival, which is scheduled from 1 to 9 p.m., will feature performances by Big Piph and Tomorrow Maybe, JusFaye, Dazz & Brie, Jukeboxx and La Fiesta. Food vendors include Secondhand Smoke, KD’s Chicken & Waffles and Lonchera Guadalajara.

With lots of programming planned throughout June, Ball says he hopes “we can get to recognize Black Music Month in its totality and just appreciate the art.” 

“One of the bigger things that I notice from our programming is the diversity of it, from the genre down to the musicians that’s performing,” Ball says. “That just tells me how much of an impact that Black artists and composers had on American music. This is music that came from our soul.”

Details about all Music Moves’ Black Music Month programming is available at www.facebook.com/musicmovesar.

Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is Editor-in-Chief of Arkansas Soul, the host of the Affirmative Action podcast and a Northwest Arkansas-based journalist. She has covered race, culture, politics, health, education and the arts in Arkansas for nearly 15 years.