Beyond the Beat

Learn About African-American Contributions to Music with This New Interactive

Musical artists push culture forward in many ways. Beyond a catchy tune or an iconic performance, music stirs the soul and taps into our collective humanity. This is why we revere artists. Yet many musical innovators’ contributions haven’t received the recognition they deserve, and others have been ignored or discarded completely. This is particularly true of African-American musical artists.

But our friends at Column Five are hoping to remedy that with their new passion project Beyond the Beat, an interactive storytelling site that showcases the contributions of African-American artists whose work has had a meaningful and lasting impact on music as we know it today. Created for Black History Month, the interactive is an ongoing project that will cover a variety of artists over the course of music history.

The site functions as a virtual record player, with each artist’s work accompanied by an in-depth slideshow that delves into their personal history and musical artistry. The first artist featured is Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a singer-songwriter and guitarist who is known as the godmother of rock ‘n’ roll. Click on the interactive to hear her music, learn about her life story, and how she broke barriers as an African-American female recording artist. And stay tuned for more artists’ histories coming soon.

If you want to learn more about the project’s roots, check out Column Five’s blog.

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