Black History Month: Music

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

For Black History Month, we're highlighting staff-recommended music created and performed by black musicians.

  • Lovers Rock

    2000 by Sade

    Light some candles, curl into your couch, and marvel at this record that is a staple of "Quiet Storm" broadcasts across the country. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Walk Through Fire

    2019 by Yola

    I’ve been obsessed with Yola since I heard her guest sing on the titular song on The Highwomen's debut CD. I love her rich voice and her songs which harken back to classic country music. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • Legacy! Legacy!

    2019 by Woods, Jamila

    Woods honors different prominent activists and artists through this collection of songs that are a send-up of an assignment she used with students as a teacher with Young Chicago Authors. Glossy voice, and gorgeous, understated production. Be sure to check out the Fatimah Asghar-directed video for "Eartha" that was filmed in Chicago! Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Black Pumas

    2019 by Black Pumas (Muscial group)

    Black Pumas are a pretty new funk/R&B/soul band from Austin, Texas. They were a nominee for the 2020 Grammy Awards Best New Artist. Recommended by Sam.

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  • 20 All Time Greatest Hits!

    1995 by Brown, James

    Hit me! Not quite Live at the Apollo, but a compilation of tracks that can still build up to a fantastic afternoon with the godfather of soul. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Camp

    2011 by Childish Gambino

    My mind was blown when I learned that Troy from Community was also a musician, and a great one at that. This album features witty and lyrical songs I could listen to on repeat. Recommended by Tiffany.

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  • To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story

    2008 by Simone, Nina

    This 3-CD, 51 song box set is a treasure to spend time with. The depth and range of Nina Simone's voice is palpable, with classics like "See-Line Woman" and "I Put a Spell on You" mingled with anthems like "Mississippi Goddam." A must. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Conquistador!

    2004 by Taylor, Cecil

    A seamless melding of Ellington and post-war European concert music. Cecil Taylor was a true visionary of the keyboard. Recommended by Adam.

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  • The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

    1998 by Hill, Lauryn

    Love, loss, motherhood, spirituality: Lauryn Hill tackles the big themes with so much heart. Listen close for the adorable interludes with young people reflecting on what it means to love fiercely. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • There's A Riot Goin' on

    by Sly & the Family Stone (Musical group)

    Hermetic yet magically soulful – an unstoppable record. Recommended by Adam.

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  • Purple Rain

    2017 by Prince

    Dearly beloved, let us now praise the Purple One. This album has so many great tracks, but start with "When the Doves Cry." Who would have thought that the phrase "animals striking curious poses" could sound remotely desirable? Only the genius of Prince. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Cuz I Love You

    2019 by Lizzo

    I am not sure how you could have made it through 2019 without hearing about Lizzo and this album. Lizzo is the embodiment of good vibes and self-love. If you are feeling a little down, she is a guaranteed pick-me-up. In addition to being a phenomenal lyricist, she is also an accomplished flutist and incorporates the flute into a lot of her music. Recommended by Becca.

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  • Aretha's Gold

    1969 by Franklin, Aretha

    The Queen of Soul still reigns with both original songs and classics on this compilation. Whether you first encountered Franklin as a guest on Sesame Street, or learned about her after her passing in 2018, this album is a great introduction to and a reckoning with the legacy she's left us - and what a rich trove of hits there are. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • What's Going on

    2011 by Gaye, Marvin

    Still relevant, no matter the fact that four decades have passed since this album was released. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Kind of blue

    2009 by Davis, Miles

    I really don’t know anything about jazz, but I love this album. Perfect for a calm or reflective mood, and noted to be one of the best and most influential jazz albums ever made. Recommended by Tiffany.

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  • Your Queen Is A Reptile

    2018 by Sons Of Kemet (Musical group)

    I loved this percussive, joyful upending of white patriarchy from Carribean-born, London-based clarinetist/saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. Turn this up to 11. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Damn

    2017 by Lamar, Kendrick

    This album may not be counted by others as Kendrick's best, but I have listened to this album again and again, finding something new each time I listen to its stories of fame, power, and the perils of success as a young person. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Victim of Love

    2013 by Bradley, Charles

    What a voice! Recommended by Adam.

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  • Herstory Vol. 1

    2019 by Mary J. Blige (Musical Group)

    "I really made it through the storm." Classic grooves and that voice - who else but Ms. Blige could make drama sound so appealing? Recommended by Mimosa.

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