2021 Power Issue Cover.jpeg
  • Jasmond Hatch

Five Songs That Remind Us of the Power of Music

In this country, we all see how many races, especially African Americans are treated poorly. With music being one of our most beloved pastimes, it was important for these artists to sing change into our ears. Whether it's talking about the war on drugs in under deserved neighborhoods, or police brutality that remains an issue to this day, people have been exposed to the truth of this country. Look at this list of songs that not only made change but pushed through the airwaves so well, that the accolades were endless. These songs help us take back our power!

Sam Cooke

A Change Is Gonna Come (1964)

Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position 31

Billboard R&B Singles Peak Position 9

Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award 1999

Sam Cooke was a recognized success in the music industry. With his sweet, mellow yet powerful voice, Cooke led African Americans to a peaceful and encouraging mood with the release of this 1964 classic. During this time, Cooke was influenced by the message of the dream in Martin Luther King Jr's I Have a Dream speech at the Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963. Towards the end of 1963, Cooke stated that the "Change" composition came to him in a dream. For this song to come from this piece, it speaks a lot on the progression of the Civil Rights Movement. A movement that helped change the course of treatment towards African Americans.

Marvin Gaye

What’s Going On (1971)

Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position 27

Mainstream Top 40 Peak Position 24

Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time Rank 4

In a time where African Americans thought things would get ultimately better since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Marvin Gaye released this song to literally ask the question “What’s Going On?” The inspiration for the song came from Renaldo "Obie" Benson, who was a member of the Motown group The Four Tops. He and the group experienced police brutality and violence in Berkeley, CA in 1969 at a protest against anti-war. The influence of this event prompted Benson to get in the studio and create this song and present it to Gaye. Gaye stated, With the world exploding around me, how am I supposed to keep singing love songs?

Public Enemy