“The Roots of Jazz”
In our recognition of the DIVERSITY of music that flows from “THE ROOTS OF JAZZ,” this year Harlem Jazz & Music Festival salutes 8 historic and iconic pioneers of music.
In her five decades, Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul,” became a worldwide music legend. In 1966, Franklin signed with Atlantic Records which gave her creative control, and she began revolutionizing soul music by creating a sound all her own.
Franklin was a symbol of Black Pride and soul music. Her songs “Respect,” “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” “Young, Gifted, and Black,” and “Think” became anthems reflecting the growing resistance of African Americans in challenging racial oppression.
In 2009, she sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Franklin won 17 Grammys and had 20 Number 1 R&B hits during her career.
Smokey Robinson’s career spans over 4 decades of hits and awards including the Grammy Living Legend Award. He was also inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
Robinson founded The Miracles. The group was Berry Gordy’s first vocal group, and it was at Robinson’s suggestion that Gordy started the Motown Record dynasty. Their single, “Shop Around” became Motown’s first #1 hit.
Robinson wrote and produced hits for other Motown greats including The Temptations and Marvin Gaye. The Beatles recorded “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” and The Rolling Stones covered the Robinson hit “Going To A Go-Go.” Robinson has accumulated more than 4,000 songs to his credit.
Harlem born Tito Puente, bandleader, composer, and musician, was a leading figure in Latin jazz. His showmanship earned him the nickname “King of Mambo.” He studied at the Juilliard School and learned to play a number of instruments including the timbales.
In 1947 Puente formed his own 10-piece band. With other Latin musicians such as Tito Rodríguez and Pérez Prado, he helped give rise in the 1950s to the golden age of mambo. The term salsa first appeared in the 1960s, when it was used to describe the music that had been the mainstay of Puente’s repertoire. Puente wrote many songs, among which “Babarabatiri,” “Ran Kan Kan,” and “Oye Cómo Va” are the most popular. During his career, Puente recorded some 120 albums and also received 5 Grammy Awards.