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(Credit: Black History Month)

Music

Editor's note: Far Out Magazine to celebrate Black History Month

@LeeThomasMason

February is Black History Month. While Far Out Magazine attempts to shine a light on the vital impact of Black artists daily, for the month of February, we as a publication will be doing as much as possible to continue our support of African-American History Month.

Now, as Far Out readers will know well, we are a UK-based publication, formed in Leeds and today headquartered in London. However, the importance of February as a month in the liberation of Black culture can not be ignored. From the very moment President Lincoln’s plan to abolish slavery was passed by Congress in 1865, humanity has been on a slow redemption arc in a bid to rid our society of the systemic racism that is still rife in 2022, some 157 years after the decision was made.

Black History Month, a recognition of US history, is an invaluable event for people to listen, to understand, to educate and to celebrate great pioneers. Far Out Magazine will join this campaign in a bid to better understand the creative influencers who impacted the arts, delving deeper to shine a light on the most significant artists in the realm of music, film, art and more.

For 2022, the Black History Month theme will attempt to drill down on the idea of ‘Black Health and Wellness’ which, according to the organisation, will explore “the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well”. With this, Far Out will hope to follow suit, looking deeper into the world of the arts to highlight those who have helped establish to the core spirit of Black artistry over the years. “Hopefully my music is medicine, some type of antidote for something or some kind of explanation or just to feel good,” Erykah Badu once said – a sentiment that we hope to understand in more detail.

Of course, the world of music would look very different today without the influence of some of the great Black artists. “The priceless gift that African Americans gave the world when they were still in slavery was a gift so great that it is now almost the only reason many foreigners still like us at least a little bit,” Kurt Vonnegut once said. “That specific remedy for the worldwide epidemic of depression is a gift called the blues. All pop music today-jazz, swing, be-bop, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Stones, rock and roll, hip hop and on and on – is derived from the blues”. Those white artists named by Vonnegut have been covered by Far Out extensively over the years of our existence, and it is crucial to understand the origins of this music, and to credit those deserving. Little Richard, Ike Turner, Bo Diddley, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and countless others.

While looking back at the icons of the past in celebration will fall in line with what our readers have come to expect from Far Out, an expansion of our commitment to Black History Month will include investigative content at what our world looks like today. There is no hiding away from the data that revealed around 63% of Black music makers have experienced racism in the UK industry. We can not ignore the diversity issues that have riddled the Academy Awards, the accusations of casual racism made against The Grammy Awards, nor can we look away from the Golden Globes, a once esteemed ceremony that is now slumped to the ground, battered by the clear and obvious accusations of racial bias, all directed toward the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

While all this is said and done, the importance of Black culture goes further than a four-week commitment – and Far Out Magazine will continue its efforts to celebrate diversity beyond February. However, in solidarity, Black History Month will be extremely prevalent on our website and social channels. Be sure to visit the Far Out homepage for the entirety of the month to find our complete coverage. If you wish to engage or share your own stories, please do so through our social channels of FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

For now, we’ll begin the period of Black History Month with the words of Aretha Franklin ringing in our ears: “We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right”.