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Kenny Gamble and Ed Wright created Black Music Month! Gamble credits his inspiration for starting it to the evolution of the NATRA (National Association of Television & Radio Announcers). “At one of its annual conventions, there were discussions on how it could evolve into something different, as NATRA had fallen on some hard economic times. It was time for something new and more inclusive of other industry professionals in the business,” he recalls. As for getting Jimmy Carter to hold the first Black Music event, read on…

Williams: How did the BMA get President Jimmy Carter to hold the first Black Music Month event, June 7, 1979, at the White House?

Gamble: We had a lot of wonderful people involved. We had noticed that the CMA had been to the White House several times, so we were like, “Why can’t we go?” I called Clarence Avant… he knows everybody. He called Joe Smith and others. Plenty of calls were made. From my point of view, Clarence is the one who made it all happen. Andre Crouch and Chuck Berry performed and a lot of people were there that day. It was a great celebration and uplifting moment for African-American music people. For so long, Black folks had been pushed into a hole, like we didn’t count. The BMA made a difference by working together. It was a great moment and beautiful day that I won’t forget.

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