Soundtrack of Black America songs, according to Ne-Yo

“The soundtrack of Black America” is this year’s Urban One Honors theme. Ne-Yo named a couple of his songs that he thinks should be on that soundtrack and a few songs from other African American artists he thinks should definitely be there too.

Which Ne-Yo songs should be on the soundtrack of Black America?

“I’m an absolute optimist. I’ve always been the person in my group of friends or my crew,  always looking for the silver lining in the dark cloud. I’m always looking for the celebration at the end of the hard mission. I’m reminding everybody that ‘I know this is hard. I know we’re going through it but once this is over we’ve got a celebration to go to.’ So, I would say that Champagne Life is one of those records that kind of just represent a celebration after a triumph that came from some difficulty. That’s one of those records that does that. 

Miss Independent is about a woman, be it a woman of colour, a woman period, just picking up and deciding that she’s going to do it for herself. She ain’t waiting for no prince charming to rescue her. She’s gonna rescue her damn self. And those are the kind of women that I grew up around, which is where that song kind of came from and which has kind of been the plight of the Black woman forever. If you think about it, it’s always been ‘We gotta do for us ‘cause there ain’t too many that are going to do for us.’ I think that those two especially could be in the soundtrack for Black America.”

What songs would you include on the soundtrack of Black America?

“My mom was a huge fan of Billy OceanSuddenly is a song that was played in my house repeatedly. Over and over and over again. It’s a song that holds a special place in my heart. It’s a song that made me realize the power of melody. This is a song that used to make me cry and I had no idea why the hell I was crying. It’s one of those records. So Billy Ocean’s Suddenly would be on the soundtrack.

Shirley Murdock’s As We Lay. My mom was a huge Shirley Murdock and Phyllis Hyman fan and whenever we were en route to the babysitter’s for her to go to work at one of her six jobs (scrunches up his face) that she worked, I recall; that’s what she would play. It would be something from Phyllis Hyman or something from Shirley Murdock. I knew them song by heart. I still do. As we Lay is one of – don’t catch me at karaoke and they got As We Lay — I’m goin’ in. Just know that’s happening. …

Anything Prince, anything Michael Jackson, because those were kind of my pre-teen to teenage years. (I was) learning what my voice was and developing my voice and my arch in my teenage years. Anything Boyz II Men, would be on this playlist. That was my early 20s and all the mistakes I made in the multiple relationships that I was in. … I could never get it right. I had a whole lot of practice at doing it wrong. …

I would include a whole lot of my music (Ne-Yo) because I have a slight ego and some pride and just feel like my music should be a part of the soundtrack to Black America, damn it. Why not?”

Add the song you think should be on the soundtrack of Black America in the comments.

Video to be added soon.

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird


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