50 great songs to help celebrate Black History Month

Old or new, these amazing tunes by some incredible Black artists should be on your regular rotation all the time.

Diana Ross and the Supremes The Supremes: classics never go out of style.

Music has always been an important part of Africana culture and a powerful tool for telling Black stories, empowering communities, and celebrating Blackness. We witnessed music’s power to connect us when the Dalhousie Black United Students Association (BUSA) collaborated with Black students, societies, and community members to host the very first Dal Afrofest in 2020. Even though we can't host an in-person festival this year, we can use music to celebrate each other from a distance. In collaboration with BUSA and with input from Black students at Dal, I've curated a three-part playlist of 50 songs to celebrate Black History Month in 2021.

Listen to the playlist with us on Spotify or add some of the songs to your own playlist!



Black Jazz, Soul, and Funk

Nina Simone, photographed in July, 1969.

With remote learning, cafés have been a safe haven for doing readings and completing assignments (at least for those of us in Halifax). But with the recent snowstorms, we might have to bring the café ambiance to our homes, and we all know what that means: Lofi Hip Hop beats. But as much as I love to stream ChilledCow with thousands of other people worldwide, sometimes it’s good to switch things up. Jazz, soul, and funk are great for study sessions, stress-baking (are we still doing that?), and just lounging with a cup of hot chocolate. From the legendary Motown Records to contemporary soul, here are some songs for your at-home café.

  • Nina Simone, “To be Young, Gifted and Black”
  • Sam Cooke, “(What A) Wonderful World”
  • Louis Armstrong, “When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)”
  • Aretha Franklin, “Winter Wonderland”
  • Etta James, “A Sunday Kind of Love”
  • Jill Scott, “Golden”
  • Whitney Houston, “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”
  • Chaka Khan, “Ain't Nobody”
  • Marvin Gaye, “I Want You”
  • Prince, “Purple Rain”
  • The Jackson 5, “I Want You Back”
  • Diana Ross & The Supremes, “Someday We’ll Be Together”



Black Joy

This past year has been…a lot. One thing that has been getting me through my final year is playing pick-me-up songs in the morning. So, I asked everyone on the BUSA Instagram what's on their Black Joy Playlist. I curated some of the recommendations that will get you out of bed or even add an extra pep in your step if you dare to take walks in this winter weather. 


  • Solange, “F.U.B.U.”
  • Lizzo, “Juice”
  • D Smoke ft. Jackie Gouché, “Black Habits”
  • Chronixx, “Black is Beautiful”
  • Masego ft. Tiffany Douché, “Queen Tings”
  • Bobby Sessions and Megan Thee Stallion, “I’m A King”
  • Daz Rinko, “Black Boy Joy”
  • Kendrick Lamar, “i”
  • Dave, “Black”
  • Wale, “BGM”
  • Sauti Sol ft. Patoranking, “Melanin”
  • ENNY ft. Jorja Smith, “Peng Black Girls”
  • Beyoncé, “Formation”
  • Chronixx, “Smile Jamaica”
  • Berhana, “Grey Luh”
  • Protoje ft. Popcaan, “Like Royalty”
  • Bob Marley & The Wailers, “Three Little Birds”




Have I mentioned that I’m missing Dal Afrofest this year already? Yeah, I am pretty bummed about it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take dance breaks between classes, right? Courtesy of the 2020 planning committee, here are 20 songs we would definitely have played at Afrofest this year for your solo dance party wherever you are!


  • Drake ft. Lil Durk, “Laugh Now Cry Later”
  • Wizkid ft. Burna Boy, “Ginger”
  • Mr Eazi, “The Don”
  • Koffee ft. Buju Banton, “Pressure”
  • Vybz Kartel and Likkle Addi, “Popular”
  • Saweetie ft. Doja Cat, “Best Friend”
  • Megan Thee Stallion, “Circles”
  • Nicki Minaj, “Good Form”
  • Pop Smoke, “What You Know Bout Love”
  • Chloe x Halle, “Do It”
  • Ir Sais, Sean Paul, and Davido, “Dream Girl (Global Remix)”
  • Burna Boy, “Wonderful”
  • Olamide ft. Omah Lay, “Infinity”
  • Patoranking, “Abule”
  • Kwesi Arthur ft. Joeboy, “Baajo”
  • Teyana Taylor ft. Davido, “Killa”
  • Shenseea, “Upset”
  • Pop Smoke ft. Lil Baby and DaBaby, “For The Night”
  • 21 Savage and Metro Boomin, “Runnin”
  • Travis Scott and HVME, “Goosebumps (Remix)”