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Rock Noire™ Founder Grace Gibson on the History of Rock & Roll

Photo from @thegracegibson on Instagram

(By Grace Gibson for Refinery29) I was four years old when I knew I wanted to make and perform music for the rest of my life. My passion for the craft eventually led me to Columbia University to study ethnomusicology and film, but after a year, I knew I wanted to learn more about how to actually make music. With much deliberation, I decided to transfer to Berklee College of Music on a partial scholarship. There, I’d begin to discover my “sound” through my newfound love for blues and rock and roll.

Unlike many of my friends, I didn’t want to go straight to Los Angeles or New York after graduating. Instinct told me I had to go connect with my musical roots in the cultural hub that is New Orleans. My spirit knew that the authenticity I sought hid in those cracked city streets, where my African ancestors landed in this country by way of the Mississippi, and built American music as we know it from the blues up. Somewhere between singing for tips on Frenchman Street in those small, smoky night clubs and incessantly doing research, I learned the truth about the roots of rock and roll: that it was not only originated by Black people, but birthed by a Black woman. I’d always seen white faces associated with the stars and legends of rock on TV, the radio, and in record shops, so my life was forever changed in learning that a Black woman like me invented the music that moved my soul most. See the full post here.

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