A promo image by The Black Music History Library with white text on black background.
Courtesy Black Music History Library/Jenzia Burgos

This Digital Archive Will Teach You About Black Music History

The Black Music History Library addresses a long-overlooked blind spot in the evolution of sound.
By Aileen Kwun
October 24, 2020
1 minute read

The Black Music History Library is here to bless—and educate—your ears. Launched this past August by New York–based music journalist Jenzia Burgos, the free digital archive seeks to address a sorely overlooked blind spot in music history, with more than a thousand (and counting) entries of books, articles, documentaries, radio segments, zines, and other ephemera that catalog the abundance of Black origins in popular and traditional music. Roughly dating from the 18th century to the present day, the materials run the gamut from academic to mainstream culture, and include guitarist Vernon Reid discussing Jimi Hendrix on an episode of the Heat Rocks podcast as well as a list of preeminent musicologists, historians, and scholars. To those open to pure exploration and discovery, Burgos offers a roll-the-dice folder that randomizes selections from the living archive. An online trove and rabbit hole for everyone, and a gift that keeps giving, it charts out the huge influence of artists who have shaped countless genres of music as we know it.