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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Shining a light on Black excellence in music industry

By Sophia Pu | Staff Writer

Celebrate Black History Month by supporting these hidden gems in your favorite genres. Check out these musicians and listen to the recommended songs by opening the Spotify app on a mobile device, tapping the Search bar, going to the camera, and scanning the Spotify Code next to the artist.

SAULT: Neo-soul


   SAULT is a British band of anonymous artists that deliver messages of Black pride and anti-racism through rhythmic bass lines and ethereal melodies. Though their music contains distinct themes of soul, R&B, funk, gospel, and reggae, SAULT’s music defies all genres. This is especially represented in “Strong”, which moves from smooth funk, to a crisp drumline, to African vocals, and ends with a blend of all three.

Esperanza Spalding: Jazz

Esperanza Spalding

   Born in Portland, Oregon, Spalding’s music combines classic jazz bass and piano with pop, R&B, and bossa nova. Spalding’s passion for music started as a young child watching Beethoven and Yo-Yo Ma, and by age five she was playing the violin in a professional chamber. Spalding’s fusion of genres is seen in “Precious”, where she uses her velvety voice to give a jazzy feel to an otherwise pop beat.

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram: Blues

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

   With his deep, soulful voice and a diverse range of guitar skills, Ingram represents the next generation of blues artists. Inspired by a documentary about blues artist Muddy Waters, Ingram kicked off his career in music as a five year old prodigy. Gospel and rock also influence Ingram’s music which is especially prominent in his single “Rock & Roll”.

YENDRY: Latin pop


   Raised by a single mother in the Dominican Republic and Italy, YENDRY does not confine herself to one box of Latin music. She is able to superimpose silky vocals on top of snappy latin beats while also weaving in rap. This is demonstrated in “Barrio” and “Nena”, where YENDRY tells the story of her mother with themes of feminine independence.

Richie Havens: Folk

Richie Havens

   Havens was born in Brooklyn, New York to a Blackfoot Native American father and a British West Indian mother. Known for his distinct style of using his guitar as both percussion and melody, Havens’ career kicked off after a performance at Woodstock in 1969. His unique strumming can be heard in his rhythmic version of “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles. In life, Havens also supported Native American rights and fought to educate children about the environment.



   Formerly known as RANIA and BP RANIA, BLACKSWAN is a Korean girl group consisting of five members: main vocalists Yongheun, Judy, and Hyeme, and rappers Fatou and Leia. Fatou is of Senegalese and Belgian descent, continuing the group’s history of featuring Black artists. When Alexandra Reid joined RANIA, she became the first Black woman to be a part of a South Korean girl group. BLACKSWAN’s style of upbeat dance music is represented in “Close to Me”.

Stromae: Electronic pop


   Hailing from Belgium, Stromae brings in influences from France, Africa, Cuba, Flanders, and America. After his Rwandan Tutsi father was killed in the Rwandan Civil War, Stromae and his siblings were raised by his Belgian-Flemish mother. Stromae’s ability to utilize rap and electronic sounds in “Alors on danse” landed him a top spot on the European charts in 2010. He has continued to innovate since then, incorporating more vocals and Latin rhythms.

Brittany Howard: Alternative/Indie

Brittany Howard

   Howard began her career with the rock band Alabama Shakes, distinguishing herself through her unique blend of americana, folk, and rock. Throughout Howard’s life, she has navigated through the grief of losing a sister, issues of body image, and the realization of her sexuality. Like every song of hers, she pours her heart into “Short and Sweet”, navigating through different emotions and releasing her full voice at the end.

Meet Me @ The Altar: Pop punk

Meet Me @ The Altar

   Meet Me @ The Altar represents the future of pop punk, with energetic guitar by Téa Campbell, fast-paced drums by Ada Juarez, and bright vocals by Edith Johnson. The first few seconds of any of their songs can make anyone feel like the main character who can take on the world. In “Hit Like A Girl”, Johnson delivers an unapologetic message of girl power.

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Classical

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

   Described as “Black Mozart”, Chevalier de Saint-Georges arose during the Enlightenment period of the 18th century and is the first known Black classical composer. He was the son of a Senegalese slave and a French plantation owner, receiving his education and beginning his career in Paris. In addition to being one of the most famous orchestra directors and violinists of his time, Chevalier de Saint-Georges was also a renowned fencer and a member of the first all-black regiment in Europe.

Brittney Spencer: Country

Brittney Spencer

   With clear vocals and warm guitar, Spencer is paving the way for Black women in a genre dominated by white performers. The pop, hip hop, R&B, and church music she grew up with weaves their way into her songs, with Christian values and themes especially prominent. In “Compassion”, Spencer uses twangy guitar chords and her round voice to urge listeners to fight racism with empathy.

KIRBY: Soul/R&B, Funk


   There is only one way to describe KIRBY: she is the moment. She is already the brains behind the lyrics of “FourFiveSeconds” by Rihanna, Ye (formerly known as Kanye West), and Paul McCartney, so it is only a matter of time before KIRBY herself is on the radio. With a vocal range that goes from low and sultry to high and clear, KIRBY can serve both slow-dance, bedroom R&B as seen in “Loved by You” and infectious funk like in “Coconut Oil”. Warning: “Coconut Oil” contains light use of explicit lyrics.

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Shining a light on Black excellence in music industry