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Black History Month :: Blog

Double Exposure: African American Music in Film

Wednesday, February 2: 4:34 p.m.

How do you capture the dynamism of live performance on a two-dimensional screen?  In celebration of Black History Month, the Rock Hall will present a special film series, “Double Exposure: African American Music on Film,” highlighting the central role of African Americans in the history of rock and roll. We’ve chosen films that cover a wide range of musical styles, from the from gospel pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe (The Godmother of Rock and Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe) to soulman Curtis Mayfield (Movin’ On Up: The Music and Message of Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions) to hip-hop innovators Run-D.M.C. (Krush Groove).  Each film features legendary performers, including many Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.  The films also reflect historical and cultural changes in African-American culture during the rock and roll era. We’ll have special introductions and discussions to some of the films by guest scholars, producers, filmmakers and Rock Hall Education staff. All of these movies will be screened in the Rock Hall’s state-of-the-art Foster Theater and are free with a reservation.

The month will also include a class in the Rock Hall’s K-12 program, Rockin ...


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Rock Hall kicks off Black History Month with Double Exposure: African-American Music on Film

Friday, February 11: 12:54 p.m.

As I was finalizing our films for this year’s Black History Month celebration, Double Exposure: African-American Music on Film, I got an email from Mick Csaky, the producer and director of a new film documentary about legendary gospel start Sister Rosetta Tharpe that was broadcast on BBC television in January. But Mick wasn’t checking to see if we could screen the film---he didn’t even know we were doing a film series. He was writing to make his case that Sister Rosetta should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His film, The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe is a powerful summary of her career, featuring blistering live performances where she displays her guitar prowess and mastery of the stage. He graciously gave us permission to screen the film, which we did this week to kick off our film series.

Gayle Wald, author of a fantastic biography of Sister Rosetta, Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, joined us for the evening. Gayle is chair of the Department of English at George Washington University, where she teaches courses on African American literature, popular music, and U.S. culture ...


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Through the Lens of Jimmy Baynes: Cleveland Rock and Roll History

Friday, February 8: 4:40 p.m.
Posted by Jennie Thomas
Photographer Jimmy Baynes' images provide a candid look at African-American life, music and culture.

Cleveland has been a hive of live music for decades. The city experienced tremendous growth in the years following World War II and, with it, an explosion of live music venues. The core of this activity took place on the east side of the city, home to Cleveland’s African-American population. Clubs like the Music Box, the Tia Juana, Leo’s Casino and Gleason’s hosted the best jazz, blues and R&B performers the era had to offer. The economic prosperity of the time was mirrored in the pulsing entertainment scene. 

Following this lively scene was postal worker Jimmy H. Baynes (July 12, 1922 – September 9, 2010), who supplemented his weekly paycheck through Baynes Foto Service at 2220 East 87th Street, primarily photographing local events in the African-American community. Though Baynes was not a trained photographer, the images he created over  three decades, from the 1950s into the 1980s – whether they are of weddings, beauty competitions, burlesque shows or live music performances  – provide an authentic and candid glimpse into African-American life, music and culture. Throughout the years, Baynes’ photographs appeared in Cleveland magazines and newspapers, such as the Call and Post.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and ...


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Cleveland Soul: Interview with Lou Ragland

Wednesday, February 13: 2 p.m.
Posted by Carlo Wolff
Cleveland soul man Lou Ragland will appear live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Musician Lou Ragland was born in Cleveland in 1942. His first instrument was saxophone, his choice after rejecting his high school music teacher’s suggestion he play tuba. Inspired by everyone from Brahms to Nat “King” Cole to Ella Fitzgerald, Ragland locked onto soul at 13, when he heard Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers sing “Goody Goody.” 

In the early ‘60s, Ragland sang in the storied doo-wop group the Sahibs (along with Hesitations founder Art Blakey and current Hesitation George Hendricks, who taught Ragland rudimentary guitar). He first recorded with the Bandmasters, releasing “Never Let Me Go/Party in Lester’s” on Way Out in 1965. The group waxed that 45 at Cleveland Recording on Euclid Avenue. “The Bandmasters was the music and the Sahibs were the voices, and I sang lead, ” says Ragland, who also recorded for Way Out under the name Volcanic Eruption, with George Hendricks. 

“I was the first artist they produced on Way Out, but after they found out that I could engineer and play instruments, they didn’t do anymore on me,” says Ragland. “They didn’t want to lose me to the art world, they wanted me to pump out these songs.” Way Out ...


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Gallery Talk: Robert Lockwood Jr.'s Custom Guitar

Monday, February 18: 1 p.m.
Posted by Howard Kramer
Robert Lockwood Jr. with custom guitar, now on exhibit at the Rock Hall in Cleveland

On February 11, 2013, Robert Lockwood Jr.'s custom 12-string electric guitar was placed on permanent exhibit in the Roots of Rock and Roll galleries at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Lockwood Jr.'s widow, Mary Lockwood, joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in presenting the famed bluesman's unique guitar, which was his primary instrument until his death in 2006 at age 91. 

Lockwood was taught to play the guitar by fabled songwriter and guitarist Robert Johnson, the first modern bluesman, and recorded as a solo artist for more than half a century. In this clip, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the story behind the guitar Lockwood called "the most beautiful guitar I've ever seen" and why Lockwood was crowned the king of Cleveland blues. 


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Essential Bobby Womack: Top Songs from the Bravest Man in the Universe

Thursday, February 21: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bobby Womack will perform live at the Rock Hall on Friday, February 22, 2013!

On Friday, February 22, 2013, Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby Womack will perform live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Joined on stage by his full band, including  horn section and backup singers, Cleveland native Womack promises a setlist brimming with fiery classics from his storied recording career, as well as cuts from his 2012 release, The Bravest Man in the Universe

In advance of Womack's concert and interview in the Museum's Foster Theater, the Rock Hall looks at six brilliant Womack songs covering the period of 1964 to 2012. 

The Valentinos – “It’s All Over Now” 

Bobby Womack sings lead on this 1964 song he wrote with Shirley Womack, and recorded with his brothers Friendly, Jr., Curtis, Harry and Cecil. Within a month of its release, the Rolling Stones had their first Number One hit in the UK with a cover of this song. Womack continued to make the song his own in later years as a solo artist.

 

Bobby Womack – “That’s the Way I Feel About ‘Cha” from Communication (1971)

This song was ...


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Top of the Charts: Michael Jackson's "Thriller"

Tuesday, February 26: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Shelby Morrison
Michael Jackson's "Thriller" remains among the biggest albums of all time.

On February 26, 1983, Michael Jackson’s Thriller hit Number One on the Billboard 200 chart. The 1982 release was revolutionary, a watershed moment in the history of rock and roll. It earned a record-breaking number of Grammy awards, sold in record numbers, resulted in music videos that changed promotional possibilities, broke down racial barriers and left a legacy of influence that continues to this day. 

Thriller was recorded with a production budget of $750,000 in 1982 and was produced by 2013 Hall of Fame Inductee Quincy Jones. Jackson and Jones combed through more than 700 demos – some Jackson had committed to a voice recorder – to find songs for his new album, eventually settling on a handful of tracks that included Jackson originals “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” “The Girl is Mine,” “Billie Jean” and “Beat It.” All four of the songs that Jackson composed were reflections of both personal and social issues surrounding the "King of Pop": In “Billie Jean,” Jackson speaks about an obsessive fan who alleges that Jackson has fathered a child with her; “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” was a rebuttal against gossip surrounding his life and the media; “The Girl is Mine,”was a song ...


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Interview with 2009 Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby Womack

Monday, March 4: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bobby Womack being interviewed at the Rock Hall, just weeks before his 69th birthday.

Born on March 4, 1944, Cleveland-native Bobby Womack grew into a soul and gospel legend whose contributions as a songwriter, singer and guitarist have kept him and his music relevant for decades. 

The son of a steelworker, Womack and his siblings got their start as a gospel group. On tour with the Soul Stirrers, the Womack brothers – Bobby, Cecil, Curtis, Harris and Friendly Jr. – were introduced to the Stirrer's lead singer, Sam Cooke. With a move from gospel to secular soul, Cooke asked the Womack brothers to join him in California, and 16-year-old Bobby Womack made the trip. 

Billed as the Valentinos, Bobby and his brothers cut two R&B classics: “Looking for a Love” (later covered by the J. Geils Band) and “It’s All Over Now.” The Rolling Stones’ cover of the latter song beat the Valentinos’ own version onto the charts, giving the Stones their second Top 40 hit in the States and first Number One hit in the U.K.

In the years following his work with Cooke, Womack would write songs recorded by Wilson Pickett (“I’m a Midnight Mover”), George Benson (“Breezin’”), Janis Joplin (“Trust Me”) and others. Pickett alone recorded 17 ...


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