Every year on March 1, the National Black Women in Jazz and the Arts Day celebrates jazz, fine, visual, performing, and auditory arts. It is held exclusively on the first day of National Women’s History Month to honor all African-American female artists, past and present. The day was created by the Black Women In Jazz organization, who originated out of Georgia.
If we take a look at the early history of women in music, piano playing was viewed as ‘appropriate’ for women, so the earliest female figures were often pianists, plus most women were not only members of the church, but performed there as well. Even with black women being as talented as the were musically, sexism still played a factor in keeping them from reaching their full potential. Many female performers decided to move to Europe and Asia, making jazz a global phenomenon. In the 1920’s, women had started experimenting with a variety of activities including singing. By World War II, opportunities for all-female jazz bands began to thrive. During that time, the most popular band of that era was International Sweethearts of Rhythm.
The emergence of several black jazz musicians and the suffrage of women helped turn the tide for many black women jazz musicians. Jazz music might not be as popular as it once was in the 1900’s, but still exist and influences much of the hip-hop and r&b music that we listen to today. Detroit lets celebrate these phenomenal and extremely talented women who helped shape the culture and music we adore today.