Black Music Month & Music Education


Part Two of our Conversation with Black Music Month Co-Founder and NMAAM National Advisory Board Member Dyana Williams


NMAAM has the honor of having one of the co-founders of Black Music Month, entertainment industry veteran Dyana Williams, as a member of its National Advisory Board.  Along with Philadelphia International Records label owner and renowned songwriter Kenny Gamble, she orchestrated the very first White House event to recognize Black Music Month in 1979 during President Carter’s administration.

In part one of our conversation with Dyana, the avid activist shared in this video how she later got a bill to the Senate floor in 2000 with the help of Congressman Chaka Fattah to make June officially nationally recognized as Black Music Month. Signed by President Clinton, this is now known as the African American Music Bill.



In part two of our conversation, Dyana reminisces about that very significant day in Black Music Month history in 1979, the importance of honoring black music’s creators, and NMAAM’s mission to provide music education programs that recognize black music year round.

BMM1979 Credit Dyana Williams-2

NMAAM: Dyana, this is a picture from your personal collection taken on the day President Jimmy Carter hosted the first Black Music Month observance at the White House back in 1979.  What do you think about when you see this picture now?

Dyana Williams: In the company of record mogul and Black Music Month co-founder, Kenny Gamble, it was my first time at the White House, and a most memorable and magical day. I feel a great sense of pride when I see some of the legendary people who attended this historic occasion for Black Music at the White House, hosted by President Carter and his wife. Legendary radio programmer, personality and my former boss, Frankie Crocker, Chuck Berry and many other notable figures in Black music and culture attended this first Black Music Month event.

NMAAM: What do you remember your hopes and aspirations being after getting President Carter’s approval of Black Music Month?

Dyana Williams: We were hoping to secure greater regard for Black music as a multi million dollar industry, as well as being one of America’s finest cultural and economic exports to the world.

NMAAM: Within the past year, black music has suffered a great loss of some of its most significant figures. Do you feel that this will affect Black Music Month this year and if so, how?

Dyana Williams: While we are still mourning the recent April transition of Prince’s life, his June 7th birth date will most certainly be recognized during Black Music Month in the United States and around Planet Earth. The impact and influence of recently deceased artists such as Natalie Cole, Maurice White, Nicholas Caldwell of The Whispers, and Marshall “Rock” Jones of the Ohio Players, among others in different aspects of Black music should never be forgotten and celebrated, during Black Music Month and beyond.

NMAAM: Should we have a particular perspective or focus for this year considering?

Dyana Williams: The perspective should always be on the recognition of the foundation artists, as well as this current aggregation of music creators and future generations of individuals who advance Black music.

Dyana Photograph #2-Credit Whitney Thomas


“Black music is American music!

We should never forget that fact.”





NMAAM: You are also the Philadelphia GRAMMY chapter president, so I am sure you are well familiar with the GRAMMY in the Schools programs as well as other efforts within the industry to keep music programs in the schools.  What would you like to see education wise regarding the history of the contribution of African Americans to American music?

Dyana Williams: I would like to see the contributions of those who have perpetuated Black music and culture, taught to all children starting in Pre K onwards. All genres including Gospel, the Blues, Rock, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, Hip-Hop, EDM, Pop and any hybrid forms of these genres are significantly American. Black music is American music! We should never forget that fact.

NMAAM: As you well know, part of the vision for NMAAM is to provide music educational programming.  What would you say about its importance to the mission of the institution?

Dyana Williams: NMAAM’s focus on music education is one of the most important components of the Museum’s endeavors. With the establishment of NMAAM, we should support this important museum on every possible level.



NMAAM would like to thank Dyana Williams for being a true pioneer and advocate for African American music throughout the years.  As she mentioned, it is important to support the Museum in its many endeavors such as its educational programming. NMAAM is currently doing its part to inspire and educate the youth of the Nashville community, as well as other communities around the country, about the national treasure that is African American music through two of its music programs:


MET Summer Academy


Choral Arts Link and the National Museum of African American Music present The MET Summer Academy, which kicks off June 20th and runs through July 1st. It is a two-week choral retreat for public, private, charter, and home-schooled children, as well as students who participate in the MET Singers.  Singers encounter choral and vocal performance training, varieties of musical styles and tips from special guest artists from the National Museum of African American Music, Barbershop Harmony Society, the Nashville Symphony, Intersection CME and more! The registration deadline for this summer is June 20.  Click here for more information.



From Nothing to Something (FN2S) is a series of one-hour programs consisting of one of six different musical presentations: Spoons, Harmonica, Cigar Box Guitars, Banjo, Innovation of Lyrics and Washtub Bass.  Programs on each instrument, led by artists, explore the musical history, techniques and other interesting stories/facts behind the instrument.

FN2S is designed to educate young people about how a group of people, from different cultures, created instruments from memories and limited resources.  Replicas of these instruments were literally made out of nothing (household items or natural materials), and were used to create something wonderful – music!

Participants will learn how these hand made instruments influenced the development of different musical genres like Blues, Jazz, Country, Rock & Roll, Hip-Hop and more, which created America’s music and culture.

FN2S is offered year round through summer camps as well as through classrooms and groups.  For more information, click here.

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MET Summer Academy

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The National Museum of African American Music will stand as an international iconic cultural museum dedicated to the vast contributions African Americans have made in music.


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