Writer/producer/cultural critic Nelson George is an expert on Black Music given his long career as a critic covering the Black music scene. He is the former black music editor at Billboard magazine, a job that propelled him onto the front lines of a new genre that we all now know as hip-hop. He talked to the Tom Joyner Morning Show about Black Music Month, it’s origins, it’s future and more.
Tom Joyner: I think I first met you when you were writing for “Billboard” at the White House when we started Black Music Month during the Carter Administration.
Nelson George: I wasn’t there at that event. That was back in June 1979. That was an event that Kenny Gamble and Dyana Williams and the Black Music Association were able to make happen. That year, President Jimmu Carter made June Black Music Month, and it’s very, very important because there was already a Country Music Month which was October, and black music, which has given so much to America and the world wasn’t being honored in the same way.
Tom Joyner: I did not know that.
Nelson George: You know Clarence Avant, the great lawyer and all-around smart man in black music, he really helped make that happen. He’s always been plugged in close to the music world and the political world and he was able to make that event happen along with Kenny and the folks.
Tom: You look forward to Black Music Month like I do, every June.
Nelson: We always have to continue educating the young about the legacy. As time goes on and we get into the 21st century some of those names – the Chuck Berrys and the Sarah Vaughns and so forth get further and further away from what’s going on now. We need to remind people that all of this was built on a very amazing foundation.
Tom: I’ve got some questions for you. There was a white group that Gamble and Huff produced in the 60’s before Philadelphia International Records. Who were they and what song did they sing?
Nelson: The song was called “Expressway to My Heart” and I think the group was called The Soul Survivors. They were some Italian kids from South Philly that Kenny and Leon knew. I think that was their first charted record.
Tom: What group was the cornerstone of the Philly sound?
Nelson: Of course that would be the O’Jays though you could make the argument for Harold Melvin as well. “Love Train,” “For the Love of Money” “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby,” ” the hits go on and on.
Tom: What popular Philly group of the 70’s repertoire included soul, R&B, doo-wop and disco?
Nelson: There are a lot of Philly groups who do all those things but the most famous would probably be Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. They had the great doo-wop harmonies, they had Teddy Pendergrass with the great lead vocals, they had so many amazing tracks that they expanded the entire spectrum of what was going on in Black music at the time.
Tom: Who was the greatest artist of all time?
Nelson: If you’re talking about jazz, it would have to be Miles Davis, if you’re talking about R&B, Stevie Wonder, and if you’re talking about rock and roll, Jimi Hendrix. Those would have to be my top 3.
Tom: My #1 is James Brown.
Nelson: He may be the most influential. When you look at what goes on in dance music, his ideas about the 1, his ideas about syncopation, those things are still relevant. He’s still sampled to this day.
Tom: Every generation from his generation up until now knows James Brown’s music.
Nelson: I’m doing a documentary for VH1 called “Finding the Funk” which will be on in the fall. Obviously, James Brown will be a big part of it. The foundation of funk is James Brown.
Sybil: You wrote the book “The Death of Rhythm and Blues.” Is it dead or is there still life there?
Nelson: It’s around. It ain’t super healthy. If you have an insurance policy, you’re due to collect.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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