Kenny Gamble and Dyana Williams are the “father and mother” of African American Music Appreciation Month, formerly known as Black Music Month. Gamble, who was the founder of the Black Music Association, had taken considerable notice of how the Country Music Association had transformed the city of Nashville into the home of country music and had designated October as Country Music Month. He marveled at the solidarity among country music artists and wanted something similar for Black music and their artists. He discussed his idea with his then partner, Dyana Williams, and after many phone calls and meetings, the start of Black Music Month began to materialize.
On June 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter hosted the first Black music celebration at the White House “to formally recognize the cultural and financial contributions of [B]lack music.” However, Carter failed to sign a presidential proclamation naming June as Black Music Month. It wasn’t until 2000 during Bill Clinton’s presidency that the African American Music Bill was introduced and passed. Economics was one of the primary motivations behind Black Music Month. Gamble states, “Initially, Black Music Month started as an economic program more than anything else… recognizing and celebrating the economic and cultural power of black music as well as those who made and promoted it.”
In 2009, President Obama changed the name of the celebration to African American Music Appreciation Month. On the importance of the celebration, Williams believes “we should revel in fact that this is something that is uniquely ours. It’s a great contribution to the world.” The books selected are fiction and nonfiction reads for elementary age children to adults. They highlight various aspects of African American music such as history, genres, and musical pioneers.