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Sounds of Blackness
*On this date in 1971, we celebrate Sounds of Blackness.
Sounds of Blackness is a unique vocal and instrumental ensemble that performs music from several genres, including gospel, R&B, soul, and jazz. The group was founded in 1969 by Russell Knighton at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was called the Macalester College Black Voices.
It was in 1971 when current director Gary Hines took over leadership, and the group name was officially changed to Sounds of Blackness. They have a global following, performing the music, culture, and history of African America to audiences on five continents. Led by Hines, they intersect Jazz and Blues with Rock & Roll, R&B, Gospel, Spirituals, Hip-Hop, Reggae, and Soul. The result is uplifting messages of hope, unity, love, and peace for all humankind and the passion for achieving it. The group has scored several hits on the Billboard R&B and Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts.
For the past fifty-plus years, the Sounds of Blackness's tireless endeavors have included performing globally for everyone from homeless persons and prison inmates to World Music Awards and the White House. Their benefit concerts and recordings have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for such causes as The United Nations 50th Anniversary, The United Negro College Fund, Scholarship America, The NAACP, Americorps, Hurricane Katrina, and countless others. Their theatrical Productions, Seminars, Master Classes, Workshops, and Lectures/demonstrations on African American Music, culture, and history reach every level from pre-school to post-graduate students.
Sounds of Blackness has appeared or recorded with Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Sting, Santana, Eric Clapton, Usher, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Elton John, Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan, John Cougar, Patti LaBelle, Earth Wind & Fire, Shirley Ceaser, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Kenny ‘G’, President Bill Clinton, Lena Home, Little Richard, BB King, Johnny Mathis, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Jim Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Duvall, Maya Angelou, and many others. The group has received three Grammy Awards, four Stellar Awards, one Emmy nomination, the International Time for Peace Award, the International Dance Music Award, and five NAACP Image Award nominations. Their music fueled both Presidential Campaigns of President Barack Obama. "The Sound of Blackness" CD won a 2012 NAACP Image Award for Best World Music Recording.