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African-American Music and K-Pop

Joel Muniz/Unsplash

It always amazed me how far the influences of African-American music have gone. When I was young and found a CD of Stevie Ray Vaughan in a local record store, I was immediately hooked onto the blues. Luckily, during this time, recordings and interviews of Stevie Ray were uploaded onto YouTube. He would often reference how earlier blues musicians influenced his playing, especially Albert King.

As I began to look into this world, I discovered that the influences of these black musicians were even farther than the genre of blues. I started to listen to other genres such as pop, rock, R&B, funk, and even jazz.

It wasn’t until I came to college that I started to play guitar with the college’s gospel choir. Not only was I blown away by the difficulty of the music, but the director forced me to learn all the songs without charts. All of sudden, I had to learn to use my ears to transcribe these songs. I was quite blessed by the other musicians in the band; without their help, I would not have been able to learn these songs. With my experiences in the gospel band, I began to notice the influence of African-American music in the larger context of American music and culture.

Yet, I was most recently surprised by the BTS’s release of their album Be (2020). Although I am not a music critic, I do recognize the obvious influences of neo-soul and funk within the track “Telepathy.” It is strange to note the tremendous influence of African-American music in K-Pop. Clearly, we often underestimate the influence of African-American music.

Sam is a history buff, Gospel music enthusiast, and electric guitarist extraordinaire. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies with a Certificate In Early Christian Studies from Wheaton College, where he is now pursuing a Master of Arts in Historical Theology. He teaches at the School of Rock and serves on staff with


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