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Rev’s Black History Month Salute to Our Favorite Black Artists | Vol. 1 of 4

If one GOOD thing came out of the 2020 dumpster fire, it was increased awareness about racial justice and the frustrations of Black Americans from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and everywhere in between. Whatever you think of the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests that occurred all around the country last summer, there are three undeniable facts we all need to accept:

Systemic racism is part of our nation’s past.

Systemic racism shaped our nation’s present.

Systemic racism has no place in our nation’s future.

Like any bad habit, breaking stereotypes and racial inequities is going to take time. It’s also going to take genuine willingness to change and the discipline to follow through. Most of all, it takes a few baby steps in the right direction that enable us to recognize common ground, realize we’re all human beings and appreciate each other’s different talents, qualities and potential.

In our humble opinion, music has always been the most powerful tool to bring different people together. From our grand opening celebrations to our Stash Bashes, music is a huge part of the Revolutionary Clinics brand. In the spirit of starting some very basic conversations about social justice, we asked our staff to share their favorite Black musicians. Every Tuesday during the month of February (Black History Month), we’ll be sharing two Black artists and the reasons why our staff finds them remarkable.

This list is not intended to be a “greatest of all time” compilation. It’s a summary of the real opinions of our employees whose opinions we value. In addition to recognizing black artists who have made significant impacts on popular American culture, this is an opportunity for you to learn about musicians you may not have heard of before who can add some flavor to your playlist. And can’t we all use a little more flavor, variety and pleasant surprises in our lives these days?

The Weeknd
If you’re still mourning the fact that the Patriots didn’t make the playoffs for the first time in…forever, The Weeknd is a fine reason to tune into the Super Bowl halftime show this Sunday. You may not know The Weeknd by name, but there’s a good chance you’ve heard his recent hit, “Blinding Lights:

“Blinding Lights” is a bit like listening to the past, present and future all in one song. It’s ridiculously catchy and showcase’s The Weeknd’s smooth voice and seemingly effortless style.

The only child of Ethiopian immigrants, The Weeknd’s real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye. Raised in Scarborough, Ontario by his grandmother after his parents divorced, The Weeknd is the living example of modern day success in the music world. Back in 2011, he uploaded his nine song demo tape to YouTube. One of his tracks caught the attention of hip hop superstar Drake and the rest is the stuff of dreams.

Surreal rise to fame aside, The Weeknd is an immensely talented artist. He cites Michael Jackson as his primary musical influence and you can definitely hear that in this live performance last year on Saturday Night Live:

In fact, The Weeknd’s version of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” at Coachella during his first U.S. tour in 2012 is another seminal moment in his career. He has recently collaborated with Kanye West, Beyonce, Daft Punk, Lil Uzi Vert and Gucci Mane and his song “Pray For Me” appeared in the Black Panther movie soundtrack.

 

If you like what you hear during the Super Bowl halftime show, you may want to check out The Weeknd’s new greatest hits album that’s available to stream on his website.

Darius Rucker

“Everybody’s down in a world gone crazy,

Don’t know how to fix it but I think maybe

Turn on the good times, turn off the TV.
Yeah, the only BS I need is Beers and Sunshine.”

Do those lyrics sum up your mood for the past 11 months or so? Welcome to the gospel according to rock and roll icon turned country music superstar, Darius Rucker in his spectacular summer song, “Beers and Sunshine”.

Whether you’re more familiar with his hits from the last couple of years or his blockbusters from the ‘90s with Hootie and The Blowfish, we’re willing to bet you’ve heard of Darius Rucker. His slightly raspy, always powerful voice is the driving force behind some of the most popular road trip songs of all time.

Hootie and The Blowfish was the feel-good band of 1994. Anchored by Darius Rucker’s bluesy delivery, Cracked Rear View is still one of the fastest-selling debut albums of all time. Their music videos further endeared them to fans who fell in love with the band’s playful, “aw shucks” style. With Darius as the front man and three white guys backing him up, Hootie and The Blowfish came incredibly close to achieving universal appeal.

In the last few years, Darius’ vocal versatility has enabled him to effortlessly cross over into the white dominated world of country music. He recently collaborated with country music icons, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Charles Kelly on the song “Straight to Hell” providing a look country music fans aren’t used to but were quick to embrace.

It’s hard not to smile when you listen to Darius Rucker’s music. Anyone will tell you that it’s a lot easier to be open-minded, empathetic and understanding when you have a smile on your face.

We hope you enjoyed our first edition of Rev’s Salute to our Favorite Black Artists. Look for two more artists next Tuesday chosen by our staff for their ability to soothe, inspire and energize – things we all need more than ever and that can lead to meaningful discussions and real change.