Art has no race, no color, and it cannot be contained. Nevertheless, many seem to associate certain races with certain genres. For example, when some people think of Country artists they may assume they are white. Furthermore, when some people think of Hip Hop or R&B, many will associate that genre with Black artists. However, Black artists have proven time and time again that our skin color doesn’t define the art we make. Here are 7 songs you didn’t know were written by black artists.
1. The Bangles – “Manic Monday” (written by Prince)
Susanna Hoffs, the lead singer of The Bangles, told NPR that Prince was a huge fan of the band and wanted to write a song for them. He invited them to his studio to listen to a demo, and the Bangles “hovered around the cassette machine and [they] were smitten with the song.”
2. Kenny Rogers – “Lady” (written by Lionel Richie)
In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone, Lionel Richie recalled the makings of his first collaboration with Rogers, which resulted in not only a breakthrough hit, but a long-lasting friendship between the two.
3. Backstreet Boys – “All I Have to Give” (Produced by Full Force)
This sweet ballad of devotion was written by Full Force, an R&B group who wrote the #1 hit “Head To Toe” by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam. It was one of the first Backstreet Boys tunes to feature all the guys on lead vocals.
4. Justin Bieber – “Baby” (Written by Tricky Stewart and The-Dream)
“Baby” was written by Bieber with Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Terius “The-Dream” Nash, both of whom worked with Bieber on “One Time.” When asked how the collaboration initially came about, Bieber said, “[Ludacris and I] both live in Atlanta. I met him a year prior to this and we figured it was a perfect collaboration for him, so we invited him out to do it.”
5. Ed Sheeran “The Shape of You” (Co-Written by Kandi Burruss, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle and Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs)
Kandi Burruss and Tameka “Tiny” Cottle of female R&G group, Xscape, were credited as songwriters for Ed Sheeran’s No. 1 smash hit “Shape of You” because of its resemblance to a No. 1 song they co-wrote from 1999 titled “No Scrubs” by TLC.
6. Tayla Parx co-wrote hits from Ariana Grande’s 2019 album, thank u, next, like “7 rings, “NASA,” and “thank u, next.”
Tayla Parx and Ariana Grande have been collaborating for quite some time and Parx is a big part of the evolution of Grande’s sound. Furthermore, Parx even helped Grande co-write songs from her latest album, Positions.
At the young age of 27, Parx already has a solid catalogue of songwriting credits under her belt. She co-write hits like “Infinity” for Mariah Carey’s 2015 greatest hits album, Number 1 to Infinity, and “Pynk” for Janelle Monáe’s 2018 album, Dirty Computer.
7. The Tokens – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (written by Solomon Linda)
Before The Tokens popularized “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in 1961, composer Solomon Linda wrote and recorded it in 1939 under the original title “Mbube.” Because Linda didn’t receive proper songwriting credit, he and his family had almost no money and barely survived.
Listen to both versions below:
Music has no race. So next time you hear it a hit record, remember, it may have been written by black artists.
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