Fancy a Paris city break with a difference?
From the musical greats of Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Bob Marley to the perhaps lesser-known voices of Cesaria Evora, Myriam Makeba, Salif Keita and Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the widespread influence and popular appeal of black music across the 20th and 21st centuries is, quite simply, legendary. Running until 24th August 2014 in Paris’ Musée de la Musique (situated within the Cité de la Musique), ‘Great Black Music’ is an exhibition which pays homage to the voices of black music which have helped to shape the history of popular music in the 20th century.
Spanning geographical borders and spilling out from local communities, Africa or America, the Caribbean or Europe, black music is considered a deeply-rooted part of a common heritage. Whether it be the Congo River, the streets of Harlem or the shores of the Caribbean, a musical melange of grooves, sounds and melodies have taken shape over the past century (and indeed beyond) and given a particular meaning to the expression of black music. Indeed in the 1960s, a group of musicians, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, decided to name this expression ‘Great Black Music’, symbolising a common identity spanning the African continent and the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Divided into six thematic sections – Black Music Legends, Mama Africa, Rythms and Sacred Rites, A Historic Thread, The Black Americas and Global Mix – ‘Great Black Music’ creates an immersive, sensory experience exploring the geography and history of the black music genre, bringing together the individual components that make black music so instantaneously recognisable both in sound and in movement. Comprising over 11 hours of audiovisual archives, films, photographs, instruments and interactive digital devices, there are also two interactive juke boxes featuring African urban music and three dance booths – hip-hop, disco and salsa – where you can practice and perfect your moves.
The museum is open Tuesday to Thursday from 12pm to 6pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm to 10pm and on Sundays from 10am to 6pm. Closed Mondays and 1st May. Entrance costs 9€ (5€ if under 26 years of age, children under six go free).