Regarding cities with formidable Black music legacies, Cincinnati is one of the most underrated of them all.
Thanks to the “Queen City” and the Southwest Ohio region, the world has been blessed with pioneering recording artists such as Bootsy Collins, The Isley Bros., Mamie Smith, The J.B.’s and The Deele.
Without their contributions, the Blues, R&B and Funk would not be the same. Black pop music wouldn’t be the same without Babyface and L.A. Reid, formerly of The Deele.
Thankfully, Southwest Ohio’s Black music legacy is being proactively preserved and celebrated through the Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame, an interactive, outdoor technology park and exhibit showcasing the region’s best recording artists, groups, songwriters and producers.
The Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame will have its grand opening this Saturday at Noon next to the Andrew J. Brady Center. The innovative exhibit is the brainchild of Hamilton County Commissioner Alicia Reece, who first called for its creation in April 2021.
“From a gravel lot covered with rocks to becoming one of the greatest world-renowned outdoor Black music tourism attractions is historic,” Hamilton County Commissioner Reece announced back then. “Through the interactive elements and use of the latest technology, we will connect our rich black music legacy as inspiration to the generations of future music legends to come.”
What Reece and key stakeholders accomplished with creating this exhibit could be instructive to the city of Chicago, whose contribution to Black music is frankly unparalleled.
Why Chicago Needs a ‘Black Music Walk of Fame’
As the birthplace of house, gospel music, urban blues and modern jazz, Chicago deserves a single, expansive interactive exhibit that captures the breadth and depth of its staggering, multi-generational contributions to Black Music.
Chicago’s version of a Black Music Walk of Fame needs several wings. It could perhaps last miles when you include jazz, blues and soul luminaries who once called the city home, like Nat King Cole, Quincy Jones, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cook, Dinah Washington, Koko Taylor, Howlin Wolf, Mavis Staples, Minnie Ripperton, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, The Chi-Lites, The Impressions and The Dells to name a few.
What’s Gospel music without these Chicago artists who deserve induction, like Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, Albertina Walker and The Staple Singers?
The house music honorees would undoubtedly include Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy, Derrick Carter, Larry Heard, Lil Louis, Marshall Jefferson, Steve Hurley, Felix Da Housecat, DJ Pierre and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, to name a few.
When you add in Hip-hop, Chicago’s case for its own Walk of Fame becomes even more bulletproof with artists like Twista, Common, No I.D., Lupe Fiasco, Chief Keef, Da Brat, Crucial Conflict, Do Or Die, Lil Durk, Earl Sweatshirt, G Herbo and arguably the most influential Hip-hop artist alive and breathing, Mr. Kanye West.
Moreover, what’s Chicago Black Music without notable figures such as George Daniels, Herb Kent, Ramsey Lewis and Doug Banks?
Ultimately, the City of Chicago should follow in Cincinnati’s footsteps by creating a monument that captures its vast and multigenerational Black music legacy. Without Chicago, American music as we know it would not be the same and, dare I say, not be as dope.
For More Information
What: The Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame Grand Opening and 2023 Induction Ceremony
When: Saturday, July 22 at Noon
Where: Next to the Andrew J Brady Center in Cincinnati
What else: The Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame will honor 2023 inductees The Deele, James Brown, Philippé Wynne and Louise Shropshire. There will be a special celebration performance by The Ohio Players.
For more information on the Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame, visit cincyblackmusicwalkoffame.org