Black people have made history every day, and the impact of the Black creative mind can be traced through the annals of modern society, straight to the advent of recorded history. So much of contemporary entertainment is built on Black culture— our fashion, our literature, our poetics, and, most prominently, our music.
Warner Music Canada is recognizing this with their new release, Black Alliance Vol. 1, a project looking to honour the scope of Black musical influence with classic covers from their ensemble of breakout Black talent. The project has contributions from artists across their roster, including Andye, Myles Castello, Charmaine, Amaal, Just John and the late Jacksoul, and features reinterpretations of cult classics such as Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” India Arie’s “Brown Skin Girl” and Queen Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y.”
The tracks curated for Black Alliance Vol. 1 touch on the different facets of social consciousness relative to the Black experience— radical self-love, introspection on one’s role in society, Black feminist identity and more.
“It’s everyone contributing to the stories we have seen and heard, and where we’re audacious enough to scrap the book as a collective and write a new narrative,” said Just John, who covered “My Struggles” by Missy Elliot. “A narrative of love, a narrative that told our own stories because we understood in-depth the stories of others.”
Black Alliance Vol. 1 was released on February 19th to mark Black History Month— the renditions from Warner Canada give the series of early millennium chart-toppers a modern touch, as seen in Myles Castello’s gossamer, tender ballad of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” or Charmaine’s warm electronica-esque backdrop to “U.N.I.T.Y.” from Queen Latifah.
“Black History Month means everything to me. It’s a celebration of our culture and the beauty as well as the devastation behind it,” said Charmaine. “It needs to be a normalized habit to celebrate black history as much as possible throughout the year. It shouldn’t be a one-month instance then forgotten until the next one.”
Even as Black History Month closes, the imprint of Black thought will continue to bring joy the world over through timeless music celebrating the universality and interconnectedness of the human experience.
You can listen to the tracks from Black Alliance Vol. 1 below.