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Considering the influence of African Americans on the music industry, Detroit and Memphis are generally regarded as critical cities for Black art.

The least known is the Cincinnati story, whose rusty streets gave way to the creation of doo-wop, funk and other sounds that dominated the mid-20th century.

The legacy of Black music in Cincinnati may have been ignored in the past, but Hamilton County Commission Vice President Alicia Reece seeks to change that with the creation of the Cincinnati Black Music Hall of Fame Walk.

News: These artists will be inducted into the Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame next month

The Walk of Fame, founded by Reece, is located outside the Andrew J. Brady Music Center, and stars such as Hollywood pay homage to musicians with connections to Hamilton County. 2022 honorees include Penny Ford, techno-funk band Midnight Star, hip hop producer Hi-Tek and jazz musician Wilbert Longmire.

Inductions in 2021 included Bootsy Collins, Charles Fold, The Isley Brothers and Otis Williams.

Cincinnati Black Music Hall of Fame Walk: These artists will be inducted next month

“I saw a need from what I was hearing from people,” Reece said. “We have a rich history of music and especially Black music that I just learned growing up and being around him and my parents. And I said, wait a minute, this needs to be shared with the wider world.”

Reece’s musical background 

Barbara Howard, Reece’s mother, was a national recording artist, and her father had an independent record label. Her parents came together through music, and she grew up hearing many of their stories and the stories of other Black musicians, such as Bootsy Collins.

“I would hear these stories growing up, and we used to say, man, all of these stories are great, but the stories can only be stopped in my head. To see also : Petaluma Summer Arts Roundup. These stories need to be shared with the world, “Reece said.

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Why representation matters

Reece, 51, is the first woman and African American to win city, state and county races in Hamilton County. She served as Cincinnati’s deputy mayor, state representative and councilor. See the article : Lake County Music Guide – 6.23.33 – The Bloom. She is also the first African American woman to serve as deputy director of tourism in Ohio.

She said she wanted to use the knowledge and experience she has accumulated with nearly 20 years of public service to pay homage to the unparalleled work of Black musicians from Cincinnati.

Reece seeks to share her story as a Black woman in the local legislature and inspire the stories of these musicians to inspire future generations.

“As an African – American woman, myself, as the founder and developer of a well – known group of Black music, that story is in itself, I look forward to inspiring other Black girls to say that you can develop. you have an idea like this. You can contribute, “Reece said.

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Why the Walk of Fame is where it is 

The location of the celebrated walk also emphasizes this message of power. The interactive display is next to the new Andrew J. This may interest you : Music from the song “Lion King”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, performed at Detroit’s Redford Theater. Brady Music Center, but the prominence of the venue does not end there.

Reece explained that many African Americans escaping slavery would emigrate from Kentucky to Ohio in search of freedom. They crossed the Ohio River and settled in what is now The Banks.

Although many Blacks eventually moved to the West End, The Banks remains an important location for Black history in Cincinnati and was the ideal location for the fame walk, Reece said.

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What you can expect from the Walk of Fame

Reece describes the Walk of Fame as a “musical trail.” This interactive tourist attraction will feature QR codes that viewers can scan to learn more about the artists and listen to their music in real time. There will also be LED screens that will display facts about the legacy of Black music in Hamilton County.

The Walk of Fame is a nearly $ 20 million publicly and privately funded project. She explained that this decision was made to make the tourist attraction cheap and accessible to the public.

Reece said she does not want money to be a barrier that prevents people from experiencing the rich history of Black music in Cincinnati.

“I wanted it to be Disney World. I wanted it to be interactive. I wanted it to be fun. And I wanted it to be something that people around the world want to come and see in terms of tourism,” said Reece.

Each star on the Walk of Fame will be sponsored by Procter & amp; Gambling. To be considered an artist for the Walk of Fame, one must submit an official nomination form, and the nominee must meet the criteria listed on the Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame website.

History of Black music in the Queen City

The legacy of Black music in Cincinnati can be traced back to the 1920s with blues singer Mamie Smith.

Born in Cincinnati in 1883, Smith is best known for his song “Crazy Blues”, widely regarded as the first blues song on record and reflects the emergence of Black female singers in popular music culture.

Mamie Smith: The Queen of the Blues was from Queen’s City

The subject of Queen City’s music history, however, cannot be discussed without an analysis of what King Records has done. Syd Nathan started King Records in 1943 as a “hillbilly” record label that emerged from the production of “race” music. “Race music” is an old – fashioned term for music made by and for African Americans.

King Records did what very few labels tried to do at the time: Black and white audience blending. While he has never achieved fame on other labels such as Motown, King Record ‘s influence on the American music industry has deep roots.

Billy Davis, a former guitarist for Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, recorded for King Records. This independent label also released Charlie Feathers cut “One Hand Loose” and “Fever” from R&B singer Little Willie John. According to The New York Times, King is where Ballard recorded “The Twist” for the first time and where Wynonie Harris performed “Good Rockin ‘Tonight.”

In January 1956, James Brown and his vocal group signed The Famous Flames with Federal Records, a subsidiary of King Records which was started in 1950 to release primarily “race” records. During his time at King, Brown would release many hits at the top of the charts such as “Papa’s Brand New Bag,” “Say it Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud),” “I’ve Got The Feeling, “” Out of Sight “and” Cold Sweat, “which many music experts believe as the song that created funk as a genre of music.

Brown’s funky sound would have influenced a number of bands in and out of Ohio, including Sly & amp; The Family Stone, Funkadelic and The Ohio Players. By 1967, Brown was a star star at King Records with multiple records in the top 10 records, a Grammy award and appearing in film and television.

Research librarian and music historian Brian Powers is a local expert on King Records after publishing “A King Records Scrapbook” to the Cincinnati Public Library in 2008. Discussing the importance of Brown’s contribution to King Records, Powers said, “There were other labels that were doing some R & Bs here in Cincinnati, not just King, but it’s clear that King was doing the same, on a large scale, at the national level and all those hits by James Brown , you know, you understand. Probably all that stuff you would think in the late sixties was his most influential music and his biggest hits during his time at King Records. “

King Records did not show all the winning Black music that came from Cincinnati. Even some of the Walk of Fame inductors, like Penny Ford and the Isley Brothers, were not affiliated with the label.

Reece said that while King Records has created many well – known artists, there was no shortage of talent coming out of Cincinnati from all directions. While the draw will pay homage to artists affiliated with King Records, it will also pay tribute to other artists, songwriters, groups and producers who have not signed on the label.

According to Reece, Cincinnati was once famous for having more independent record labels than most cities in the country. Reece ‘s main goal is to educate the public about what Cincinnati contributes to the music industry. She said this project was inspired by her connection to music, her over 20 years of public service, and her recognition as a Black woman.

“Music is at the core of my family and who I am,” Reece said.

When is the Walk of Fame Induction ceremony? 

The grand unveiling of the Cincinnati Black Music Hall of Fame will take place during the 2022 induction ceremony July 23 from noon to 3 p.m. This ceremony will take place during the Cincinnati Music Festival, one of the most significant African American music festivals in the country.

The great thing about the famous walk, Reece said, is that when the music festival is over, people in Cincinnati have a permanent site dedicated to Black music that they can return to.

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