February 1, 2023

Curation Chronicles – Black History Month Megamix

Bringing together this Song List to celebrate Black History Month was a unique opportunity for the RS+ Music Team to journey together into the RS+ library to find songs highlighting special artists from various eras and genres who contributed to the musical landscape that we enjoy today. From humble recordings capturing blues and gospel artists of yesterday to highly polished productions of the pop artists of today, an unmistakable sound steeped in culture has traveled throughout that is shared by all the songs included on this Megamix.

While it would be impossible to curate a definitive collection of songs that would be considered historically and musically complete to honor the importance of any community, our team researched, listened to, learned about, and shared of a lot of music and artists with each other that resulted in this Song List. These songs not only celebrate history but also include musical lessons that can be applied to your growth as a guitar player. Here are a few highlights from this list.

Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" is an excellent example of how conveying soul music over simple strumming on an acoustic guitar played by Steven Stills can be accomplished. Recorded in 1971, this song was produced by organist Booker T. Jones whose legendary band, Booker T. and the MGs is also featured in this Song List on the recording "As Years Go By". Strumming techniques are one of the key fundamental lessons you can find in RS+.

For those players focusing on jazz and looking for a challenge, one of the most well known and defining artists of the bebop era was saxophonist Charlie Parker whose song "Scrapple from the Apple" is meticulously transcribed here for guitar. Gaining the facility to solo over fast-moving complex chord changes in any genre of music starts with a foundation of practicing scales and basic chords found in the RS+ lessons.

Patti Labelle is one of the most celebrated singers worldwide, selling tens of millions of records in the Pop, R&B and Gospel genres throughout her career spanning over several decades. Her club hit "Eyes in the Back of My Head" features an intricate bass part provided by Eddie Watkins, Jr. who has played on numerous recordings with a variety of artists. You can find the basics of bass playing lessons on RS+ that will help you build up to Mr. Watkins' precision playing.

While you explore playing the songs included in this Megamix, we invite you to join us in exploring the history, community, and culture - both societal and musical - that is wrapped up in this handful of songs. From Mahalia Jackson's "Let's Pray Together" to Steve Lacy's "Dark Red" a history of people and music awaits that we encourage you to explore even further through RS+ and beyond.

Michael A. is a member of the Rocksmith+ Music Team. He's a veteran music industry professional who has been a contributing writer for Guitar Player Magazine and Electronic Musician Magazine.

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