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Tiny Desk Playlist: Black Music Knows No Bounds

Selecting only five from such a dynamic collection of African-American musicians is hard. However, when I think of performances that keep me coming back because of their level of intimacy, depth, and joy, it's Mickey Guyton, Gary Clark Jr., Nubya Garcia, Tobe Nwigwe, and the incomparable Minister of Funk, George Clinton. Together, these performances embody the vast sonic landscape that black artists have cultivated. Each is unique, but each means healing, resilience, reflection, and love to me.

  • I'm inspired by the power of trailblazing country artist Mickey Guyton. With her lyrical prowess and latest anthem "Black Like Me," she breaks the racial barriers of a storytelling genre too much considered "white music."
  • Music taps into love and pain to break down all kinds of barriers, disrupting the systems that divide us. George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars remind us that we are truly "One Nation Under A Groove."
  • Nigerian American musician Tobe Nwigwe's performance of "Caged Birds" is a reminder of the excellence we hold within.
  • Nubya Garcia breathes new life into ideology and theory from the past and then transforms them into a new jazz. Garcia has said that her tunes "can be traced back to roots and connections and history and community," that they are "an exploration of what's at your root." They make you you, and us us.
  • Gary Clark Jr.'s tribute to his mother moved me to tears in a deeply personal way as I thought about my own mother's sacrifice during this time of pandemic and separation. —Nwaka Onwusa, chief curator and vice president of curatorial affairs for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

  • Tiny Desks In This Playlist

    Mickey Guyton
    George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars
    Tobe Nwigwe
    Nubya Garcia
    Gary Clark Jr.

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