TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — June is Black Music Appreciation Month.
As stated in a recent proclamation from President Joe Biden, it's a time set aside to honor Black musicians, singers, and contributors to the music industry — past and present — whose innovative talents unite us.
Florida A & M University Director of Music Industry, Darryl Tookes says he "almost took music for granted."
While Tookes may have come from humble beginnings, his career is anything but. The singer, pianist and composer having worked with several celebrities like Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, and even the founder of Earth Wind and Fire, Maurice White.
"I said Maurice, I just can hardly believe I'm here with you guys and learning this music," Tookes said, "and Maurice said 'this is where you belong'."
So when ABC 27 turned to Tookes for his insight on black music, he says, you first have to grapple with the question of black identity.
"I think when we talk about Black Music Month," Tookes says, "we're talking about a specific experience that's an aesthetic that comes from a uniquely African American people who are the descendants of slaves."
Those descendants create that music through searching for a particular expression of their humanity.
"It always gets back to humanity, people telling their stories. And I guest our people just have a unique story to tell," Tookes said.
It also reaches far beyond that.
"It goes through various genres and styles. There are black composers of various genres," Tookes says, "and it's the most impactful music globally on the popular scene."
That impact is not lost on students like Kyle Webster who says, "Black music has a very big influence in our culture today. A lot of trends and what not going on right now is mostly from black artists and the music that they produce."
And it's that's influence that Tookes says should not be taken for granted as he encourages people to listen closely, to reflect and to appreciate this June.
"The good news is that music is whatever you call music. Music to me might just be Earth Wind and Fire and James Brown. Music to you might be something entirely different. But your music matters to you. So I would encourage people to be very discerning about what we listen to," said Tookes.
The iconic band Earth Wind and Fire will performance this September at the Capital City Amphitheater.
You can purchase tickets here.