The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame spotlights a long and vital tradition of black artists — from Mavis Staples to Public Enemy, Billie Holiday to N.W.A. — fighting for racial justice through music in the new exhibit “It’s Been Said All Along: Voice of Rage, Hope and Empowerment.”
“Black musicians have always been spreading messages of equity through their music,” explains Nwaka Onwusa, who oversaw the exhibition in her role as the Rock Hall‘s Director of Curatorial Affairs. “There are messages of hope, rage, empowerment peppered throughout the museum itself, and I wanted to highlight these voices.”
In addition, Onwusa worked to “identify black photographers who have celebrated and looked at these moments through history” and center the exhibit around their work. Bruce Talamon, whose photos of soul and R&B singers in the Sixties and Seventies were collected in an indispensable volume in 2018, “says that we’re often on the walls but never in the room,” Onwusa adds. “Let’s bring these black photographers in the room as well. The eloquence and the beauty of these images still scream and shout rage, hope, and empowerment.”
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