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Black history explored through music | News, Sports, Jobs


WARREN — Growing up with a father who was a band director and in a family that enjoyed music led William McDaniel to pursue a career as a professor of African-American music for 35 years at The Ohio State University.

McDaniel was the keynote speaker as part of the third annual “Nurturing Pathways to Freedom” lecture series presented by the Sutliff Museum. He spoke on “Understanding Black History through Black Music” as part of Black History Month.

More than 45 people attended the program.

McDaniel utilized recorded music to explore various aspects and periods of black history by examining the music of each era.

The songs he discussed range from the work songs and spirituals during slavery through the rap of modern times.

McDaniel, who retired 15 years ago after teaching classes on jazz studies and other music, had just returned to the United States after spending time in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

“Black History Month affords me the opportunity to speak about a subject that is near and dear to my heart which is black music,” McDaniel said.

Growing up in Memphis, Tenn., near the Mississippi River, McDaniel said music was a part of his life

“Music was a part of my entire life and a reflection of my roots,” he said, recalling he took piano lessons and wanted to study music because his father was a high school band director and jazz musician.

He said his father was a trumpet player and often took him as an eighth-grader to gigs.

“I got bit by the street music and all the sounds around me. I got influenced by the street music. Memphis is where the rhythm and blues was big,” McDaniel said.

He said while many people use their eyes to see things around them, he tells

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