New Brunswick

'It reminds us of who we are': 5 songs to play during Black History Month

A big part of any culture is music, and during February CBC asked Josephine Watson and Clinton Davis, both of Moncton, to share their favourite songs as a way to celebrate Black History Month.

Moncton's Josephine Watson, Clinton Davis share their experience as black Canadians through music

Clinton Davis and Josephine Watson share a small part of the soundtrack of their lives as Canadians. Davis grew up in Toronto before moving to Moncton as an adult, while Watson grew up in Fredericton. (Karin Reid-LeBlanc/CBC)

A big part of any culture is music, and during Black History Month, CBC asked Josephine Watson and Clinton Davis, both of Moncton, to share their favourite songs.

Watson, a spoken word artist, was born in Sydney, N.S., but grew up in Fredericton.

"Learning to love myself as a black woman has been an amazing struggle," she said. "I love being who I am and learning what it means to be a black woman is something I will be doing for the rest of my life."

Watson chose two songs that she believe show the way music can "reveal our secrets, our plans, our successes and our struggles."

"We have a beautiful black history here in the Atlantic provinces and I want people to be more aware of that."

Josephine Watson says she is still learning what it means to be a black woman. She has chosen songs that remind her that we are all united. (Karin Reid-LeBlanc/CBC)

Watson's picks:

1. Nina Simone, Four Women

"This song Four Women speaks of four different and distinct black women. Each character in this song experiences racism, abuse and despair but they remind me that sometimes we are four, sometimes we are 50 and in times like these we are hundreds of thousands. Because the black experience is part of the mosaic of all people. All of us. And from now on we are one."

2. Bob Marley, Redemption Song

"Music in all its glorious styles forms bonds. It reminds us of who we are and how far we've come. But as always the change we have so desperately fought for always begins inside. So, as Bob Marley tells us in Redemption Song, no one but ourselves can free our minds."

'An ongoing mix of both sorrow and strength'

Clinton Davis, a musician and local business owner, grew up in Toronto and chose three songs he feels "speak to black culture" and to the "overall black experience."

Davis has Jamaican and British ancestry and said he has always been proud to call himself a Canadian.

"I'm very happy to be here for Black History Month because there is just so much history out there that I don't feel we get exposed to."

Clinton Davis said he never identified as either black or white but, growing up in a diverse Toronto neighbourhood, was always proud to call himself Canadian. (Karin Reid-LeBlanc/CBC)

Davis's picks:

1. Arrested Development, Mr. Wendal

"It was a song written about the plight of homelessness. A song that encourages people not to judge people based on their status and how they look and it also encourages us to learn from the non-materialistic lifestyles of the homeless. I just think the song really reminds people to not judge and hate the people out there that are struggling but look at maybe the broader problem of why these people are allowed to struggle like this in society."

2. Lauryn Hill, Doo-Wop (That Thing)

"In an era of heavy commercialized rap music talking about material things — money, sex, things that people generally stereotypically describe hip-hop culture music as, she came out with this song as a reminder to the young black men and women to remember to have self-respect and self-worth. I remember in the 90s just buying this album and by coincidence, I was lucky enough that summer to be able to drive my family's car … and I just remember cruising around the city with the windows down playing this beautifully-composed music. It's something that I'll always remember and that made me really happy."

3. Sam Cooke, A Change Is Gonna Come

"Most of his songs were soft, crooning love ballads … but he could also switch it up and get really sort of gospel-y, gritty sort of sound that just penetrated your soul. This is an important song for the culture as it really signifies something in black culture that is an ongoing mix of both sorrow and strength all together and just the need to endure and continue on."

with files from Information Morning Moncton


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