This now annual celebration of Black Music Month came about through a joint effort between Gamble and two broadcasters, Ed Wright and Dyana Williams. During the 70's there was a music industry trade association in America called The Black Music Association which was really an educational tool set up for young writers and producers, a spot primarily where they could discuss the benefits of the music business, especially as there had been a long standing history of African Americans being robbed blind of their material and their money. The BMA looked extensively at how best to market black music to a wider market, therefore creating more revenue not just for them, but for the entire music industry.
The BMA observed that October being officially Country Music Month meant the country music industry received additional marketing money which helped to promote both the music and the artists. So it was decided the BMA, led by Kenny Gamble, would pursue the exact same deal for black music and lobbied the then-President Jimmy Carter in 1978 to make this goal a reality. Seeing that Carter's administration had a special country music night at the White House, Gamble approached major record executive Clarence Avant (ex-CEO of Sussex Records, then home to Bill Withers and would then go on to become CEO of Tabu Records, home to The S.O.S. Band and Alexander O'Neal) who had strong ties to the Democratic Party. He asked Avant if he could inquire about the possibility of a black music night at the same spot. Avant was successful in his effort and everything kicked off in June 1979 with a special White House concert with several high profile black artists including Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Billy Eckstine and a very youthful Evelyn 'Champagne' King. So to Kenny Gamble and the many other people who persevered in their effort to bring recognition for the immense contribution black artists have given to American music, thank you. It is so good to see they are still being honoured 34 years later.