12 February 2020 Blogs, Academic, Community College, Librarian, Faculty, Student/Researcher

Take Our Black History Month Music Quiz!

Test your knowledge and explore unique research opportunities

By Courtney Suciu

From such hugely influential genres as jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip hop, to the civil rights movement and ‘60s counterculture, researching and learning about African-American musicians provides an inspiring and unique avenue for exploring social change and the exquisite power music has in all of our lives.

In honor of Black History Month, we’re sharing articles that demonstrate some of the fascinating insights and information that can be uncovered by taking a closer look at the lives and work of African-American musicians.

Take our quiz and follow the links to see how much you know. Did any of the answers surprise you? We hope these articles will inspire you to learn more or come up with more ideas for researching the wide-spanning influence of African-American artists.

  1. What classic rock guitarist’s controversial interpretation of the Star-Spangled Banner reinvented the U.S. national anthem for the late-1960s anti-war counterculture?
  2. What musical genre did Washington Post columnist William Raspberry argue needed to come with a warning label because it “seems to share many of the dangerous qualities of nicotine”?
  3. In 2010, George Gershwin’s estate granted permission to the artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, Diane Paulus, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, to update the libretto of what 1935 American opera, to bring more depth to the story’s characters?
  4. Known as “The Godfather of Soul,” what singer/showman was tapped to perform on national TV as a measure to control rioting after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?
  5. The Oscar-winning 2019 film “Green Book” was criticized for sugarcoating the challenges faced by what complex, often contradictory piano virtuoso during his tour in the racially segregated American South?
  6. Jazz singer Billie Holiday’s rendition of what song depicting the horrors of lynching is considered by critics to be the first time a protest song was elevated beyond propaganda to reach the level of art?
  7. When the scheduled opening act for the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival was held up in traffic, what then-little-known folk singer took to the stage and improvised the song “Freedom” from the spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”?
  8. A precursor to jazz, what characteristics gave ragtime music its name?
  9. Crowned the “Queen of Soul,” what singer used her reign to bring attention to the civil rights movement and support the fight for Black freedom (and in 1970, even offered to pay the bail for incarcerated Black Panther activist Angela Davis)?
  10. Images of hip-hop artists in advertising, including a Kodak campaign featuring Drake and Pitbull, a Magnum condom campaign featuring Ludacris, a malt liquor ad with Snoop Dogg, and a Doritos commercial with The Black Eyed Peas inspired what research project by scholar Rachel Quick?


Courtney Suciu is ProQuest’s lead blog writer. Her loves include libraries, literacy and researching extraordinary stories related to the arts and humanities. She has a Master’s Degree in English literature and a background in teaching, journalism and marketing. Follow her @QuirkySuciu