February is dedicated to remembering black women and men, who have defined history by innovating and excelling in their respective fields. Though there are countless extraordinary black people across the globe, the following 28 represent each day of Black History Month. Some of them continue to inspire our hearts and minds to this day. Some have passed, but their legacies live on through their art form, their entrepreneurial ventures, their contribution to the sciences, their sportsmanship, their research, their social activism, and their ceaseless perseverance against all odds. Each day for the final week of this month, we will highlight a few influential black people, and show gratitude for their originality and brilliance. Take a moment to regard these honorable people, and share their greatness with a friend.
Musical prodigy and lyrical genius, Eunice Kathleen Waymon began practicing piano at the ripe age of 3; she was Valedictorian of her high school alma mater; and she studied classical piano at The Juilliard School in New York. Later and more popularly known as Nina, Ms. Simone was a fiercely outspoken woman during a pivotal time of social/political movement. She was deeply affected by the gruesome murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963 and from it wrote the poignant song, "Mississippi Goddam." She understood the duty and importance of being a black woman with an audience. Thus, used her music and performances as a platform for social activism throughout her career. Rolling Stone voted Nina the 29th greatest singer of all time stating, "her honey-coated, slightly adenoidal cry was one of the most affecting voices of the civil rights movement." To her fans she was known as the High Priestess of Soul, evoking a feeling of joy, agony, and pain all at once.
With a set of pipes like an organ "Satchmo," or Louis Daniel Armstrong was one of the key components in the jazz revolution. A virtuoso Trumpet player, Louis had a unique tone and an extraordinary talent for melodic improvisation. He is widely recognized as the pioneer for "scat singing," and was one of the first "cross-over" entertainers of his time. With over 50 years in the industry, Louis had a role in over a dozen Hollywood films, and was adored by all who knew him including the Pope. His home of 28 years in NY has been declared a national historic landmark, and in 1972 Armstrong was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
"One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain," Robert Nesta Marley. Marley preached love and unity via his music and lifestyle, and was awarded the Peace Medal of the Third World by the United Nations in 1981. He converted to the Rastafarian religion in the early 1960's, and advocated the legalization of marijuana. He believed the drug had healing properties that helped to open the mind, which he often used as a tool for writing music. Reggae music became highly popularized by Robert's band, Bob Marley and the Wailers. Though Robert passed in the same year he was awarded the Peace Medal, his music lives on through The Wailers.
Oluwatosin Ayoyinka Olumide, a.k.a. Tosin Abasi, is a Nigerian-born progressive rock guitarist. He is the founder and lead guitarist of the instrumental metal band Animals As Leaders, and has a signature guitar created by Ibanez called the TAM. Tosin is a modern innovative progressive guitarist known for his odd time signatures and chic fashion style. Recently, he launched his own guitar company titled Abasi, and he has been ranked by Guitar World as the 97th of 100 best guitarists of all time.