Harlem is the birthplace of creativity, innovation, and sheer musical talent
Harlem is known for its colorful artistic elements and diversity. It is also the home to many brilliant and accomplished musicians. This New York neighborhood has played a pivotal role in the music scene, particularly with the Harlem Resistance during the early 20th century. Here are a few Harlem musicians—past and present—that are worth a listen.
James Reese Europe
James Reese Europe
inarguably revolutionized the music scene. As a bandleader, arranger, and composer, he was a man who wore many different hats and excelled at all of them. Europe was also a talented multi-instrumentalist and a key figure in the Black American music scene in the early 1900s. He advocated tirelessly for the advancement of African American music and his unmatched talent forever changed the trajectory of music.
Born in 1901, Louis Armstrong
was another key figure in the Harlem Resistance. Having been born to a poor family in New Orleans, Armstrong was presented with many obstacles throughout his life. He fought against countless roadblocks on his journey to become an incredibly talented jazz trumpeter. Armstrong appeared in various films and performed on international tours through the 1950s and 1960s. He played an important role in helping people accept and appreciate jazz music. He was also passionate about using his platform and musical abilities to advance the civil rights movement.
became a social phenomenon in the 1930s—and understandably so. With an impeccable tempo, impressive vocal delivery, and remarkable improvisational skills, there was no question that Holiday was deeply talented. She began her career singing at nightclubs in Harlem and quickly transformed into so much more. She heavily influenced jazz music and pop singing and produced hit after hit. Nicknamed “Lady Day”, some of her most popular releases included “Strange Fruit”, “Solitude”, and “Blue Moon.”
Established in 2011, The Rakiem Walker Project
is a 7-piece band consisting of horns, drums, vocals, keyboards, and more. This sensational band originated in Harlem and has gained popularity while playing in various venues across the city. They are admired for their ingenious and bold musical performances and original ideas. Their recently released self-titled album is now available to download.
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