Student holds event teaching about America’s black musical history

By Quanecia Fraser—

Multimedia Journalist

In honor of Black History Month, senior Cameron Nellum hosted “Curating The Soundtrack to America,” Wednesday in the Fine Arts Center.

The event began with a performance of the song “Amazing Grace” by Sapphire Beverly, a senior criminal justice major, and Dante Hoelting, a junior psychology major. After Beverly and Hoelting performed “Amazing Grace,” Beverly performed Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

Cameron Nellum spoke about various stages of America’s black musical history. Photo by Quanecia Fraser

Nellum, a communications major with a minor in music business, said he wanted to educate students and faculty about the contributions African-Americans have made to America’s musical history.

Nellum spoke about the different stages of African-American musical history, from the use of the Djembe drum in the pre-colonization era to the beginnings of Motown R&B and Hip-Hop.

“I thought this would be a great opportunity to show people the true history of American music—who was actually behind it,” said Nellum.

Sapphire Beverly and Dante Hoelting performed the song “Amazing Grace” before Nellum began his presentation.  Photo by Quanecia Fraser

Nellum said he thinks it’s important to hold black history events at predominantly white institutions like Tarleton State University because “it puts things into context and it gives (African-Americans) a chance to actually articulate ourselves and actually show what our true history is.”

After his presentation, Nellum moderated a discussion between audience members about African-Americans’ influence in music. Discussion topics ranged from issues like cultural appropriation to the use of the n-word in rap music.

Regarding the discussion, Nellum said “that was the best part honestly, I loved it.”

Karlysa Pierce, a senior sociology and international studies major, said she is glad she attended the presentation.

“It gives black people on campus a sense of unification,” said Pierce. “It was a sense of ‘yeah, we did that’.”

Both Nellum and Pierce said they would like to see more events like “Curating The Sound Track to America,” held on campus.

“That’s what will help Tarleton actually become what they truly want to be when they go (Division) 1,” said Nellum.

Pierce said “More of these events should have public face, such as President Dr. Dominic Dottavio and Mama T (Lathes Towns, Director of Student Involvement and Family Relations).”

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