World Premiere Video: Akeylah Simone says "Black is Beautiful"

Photo courtesy of Fresh Tracks Marketing

(April 9, 2021) In her song “Black Is Beautiful, Letter to My Country,” Akeylah Simone asks her countrymen and women a question that many Black people have posed at one time on their lives: “If you didn’t see me, could you actually see me?” In other words, could society see her worth if they didn’t know or care that she was Black? It’s the persistent question that arises nearly 60 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. uttered the aspirational words about people being judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

(April 9, 2021) In her song “Black Is Beautiful, Letter to My Country,” Akeylah Simone asks her countrymen and women a question that many Black people have posed at one time on their lives: “If you didn’t see me, could you actually see me?” In other words, could society see her worth if they didn’t know or care that she was Black? It’s the persistent question that arises nearly 60 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. uttered the aspirational words about people being judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

Despite 58 years of having King’s dream weaponized by people who wish to dismiss the lived experience of Black people, skin color persistently trumps (pun fully intended) character in large and small ways. This lovely and poignant ballad that merges piano, keyboard, cello and voice finds Simone using her powerful instrument to pose a number of questions that are rhetorical, hypothetical and probing. “If it were only my mind would you be fair/could you pretend to be unaware/that you’re still not sure that my Black is beautiful.”

Simone is not calling for color-blindness but is demanding that she and all Black Americans be seen wholly without having to compromise or make themselves appear less threatening. Simone wrote the song after getting a chance to create a work for a local creative arts contest. Simone wrote at a time when Covid and the social justice protest in the wake of the George Floyd killing revealed the systemic inequalities in the American justice and health care systems.

“Thinking back on my experience as a Black woman in America, a series of questions spilled out. The big question basically is, if my skin color were not a factor, if people did not have the option to judge me by my skin color, would my experience in America be the same?”

Simone’s songwriting and vocals reveal she is someone who brings a great deal of polish to the game that comes from spending her life around music and musicians. Both of her parents are musicians and her father, Bobby BlackHat, is a legendary Virginia based blues singer. Check out the World Premiere of “Black is Beautiful, Letter to My Country” here.

By Howard Dukes

Akeylah Simone - "Black Is Beautiful" 

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