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How NPR will be celebrating Black Music Month

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Forty-five years ago, President Jimmy Carter deemed the Month of June African American Music Appreciation Month, Black Music Month for short. Our NPR music team has been celebrating the occasion at the Tiny Desk since 2022. That's when Usher wrapped up our first Black Music Month with a show that became a viral meme.

USHER: Drop it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

USHER: Hey. Oh. Hey. Watch this.

(LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: Well, our third annual celebration begins on Monday, and to tell us about what's in store this year, we welcome NPR Tiny Desk host and producer Bobby Carter to the show. Hey, Bobby.

BOBBY CARTER, BYLINE: What up, Ari - good to talk to you again.

SHAPIRO: You, too. All right. Last year's Black Music Month at the Tiny Desk ended with this raucous concert from hip-hop star Juvenile that set a Tiny Desk record for the most views on its first day - seems really difficult to top that. What do you have in store?

CARTER: It is. It's hard to top. It gets harder to top every year, but Chaka Khan could help with that, I think.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Oh, yes, definitely.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AIN'T NOBODY")

CHAKA KHAN: (Singing) Ain't nobody loves me better, makes me happy, makes me feel this way.

SHAPIRO: Ain't nobody like Chaka Khan.

CARTER: That's right. We're doing our best to keep the conversation going, and we're stepping it up again this year. So this year we have an all-women lineup...

SHAPIRO: Cool.

CARTER: ...All-female lineup. We're giving Black women their flowers this year. Last year I thought to myself, like, where are the women? And to give our audience credit, they were asking, too. Where are the women? So I immediately knew this year that we were going to do our very best to stack this lineup with all women, and here we are.

SHAPIRO: All right. So who is it stacked with, beyond Chaka Khan?

CARTER: Oh, my God. We have my favorite all-Black girl group, SWV, this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WEAK")

SWV: (Singing) I get so weak in the knees I can hardly speak. I lose all control, and something takes over me.

CARTER: Sisters With Voices. Other than women this year, the theme is singing. Everyone is singing down. The mics are on, and we don't have to turn them up. So we got young Kierra Sheard, who represents the gospel sector. In the hip-hop area, we have Flo Milli and Tierra Whack, who both provide something very unique and fresh to hip-hop right now - speaking of fresh, Brittany Spencer, who's bringing something so special to country music right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIGGER THAN THE SONG")

BRITTANY SPENCER: (Singing) Makes you want to be fancy like Reba, a queen like Aretha, in love like Johnny and June, get mad like Alanis, scream like Janet, do it all like Dolly would do.

CARTER: I think that's - yeah, I think we got it covered this year, Ari. What do you think, man?

SHAPIRO: I love the range of that lineup...

CARTER: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: ...From, like, country to hip-hop and beyond. That's a lot of flowers. You are really giving the Black women their flowers in...

CARTER: That's right. Yeah. Speaking of flowers, we are giving their flowers literally and figuratively. We've asked each artist or their teams, like, what their favorite flower is, and we are greeting them. We partner with a young florist by the name of Kiki (ph), and we're greeting them with their favorite flower as they walk into the door. We can never give Black women in music their flowers enough. So we're trying to do our part to let them know, like, we hear you, we see you, and we love you.

SHAPIRO: That's so cool. Now I want to know, like, what's Chaka Khan's favorite flower? What's Tierra Whack's favorite flower?

CARTER: I know, right? Like, you know, Tierra - you know, you're going to see a lot of green. I think - what did Chaka want? She loves roses. You know what I mean? So - which - that's Chaka, of course...

SHAPIRO: She seems like a roses kind of lady.

CARTER: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: All right. So who should we look for when the series launches on Monday?

CARTER: We're starting off with Tems...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ESSENCE")

TEMS: (Singing) You don't need no other body. You don't need no other body.

CARTER: ...One of the biggest artists in the world right now in the Afrobeats phase. And she is just - she's sort of walking that line of Afrobeats and just straightforward R&B. And we're kicking it off with Tems on Monday, so make sure you're tuned in.

SHAPIRO: That sounds like an amazing lineup - can't wait for it to launch. Thanks, Bobby.

CARTER: Thanks so much, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Bobby Carter is host and series producer of NPR Music's Tiny Desk concert series. You can see all the Black Music Month Tiny Desks and more than a thousand others at npr.org/music.

(SOUNDBITE OF WIZKID SONG, "ESSENCE (FT. TEMS)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.