This year, Black Music Month takes a different turn. Because of the horrific deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and more, we at Billboard hope to uplift and empower African Americans during this cloudy and dubious time. For the month of June, Billboard had artists provide a playlist designed to remedy the heartaches endured by the Black community.
Newly-signed Warner Records vocalist Bren Joy is the last artist to whip up a hearty playlist for us, one that centers on finding “love ourselves and our community as a whole.”
“During these times, it’s extremely important to feel and embrace. Embracing not only the positive moments and optimism but also the not so good feelings. As artists and black people, we tend to suppress our sadder emotions. It is most important that we really feel and process. This playlist was curated to not only find optimism and light, but to find love in ourselves and our community as a whole,” he tells Billboard.
“We have shown that we are incredibly powerful as a community. Black people are so strong, independent, courageous, and beautiful. Songs like [Lauryn Hill’s] “Nothing Even Matters” and [India Arie’s] “Brown Skin” really embrace this love for our skin. Songs like [Childish Gambino’s] “Redbone” and [Moss One’s] “Square One” reflect the struggles and disheartening sides of things, while still having and underlying theme of hope. “Ivory,” written by incredible first-generation Nigerian artist Tobe Nwigwe, has been one of my favorite songs of 2019-2020. The amount of love pushed into that track specifically is not only beautiful, but also incredibly inspiring.”
He adds: “It’s important more now than ever that we look to black artists for hope and creativity. In the moments we are hurting the most, we as a race have been known to create. The beautiful pieces that come from our bruised souls are what will keep music pushing forward for so many years to come, just as it has done in the past. And as we get to a place where we are not hurting anymore, hopefully the world begins to highlight and love on black music just as my parents have taught me growing up.”
Check out Joy’s playlist below.