Staff Picks: February 2021

Rock 'n' roll, blues, hip-hop, rap, R & B, soul, gospel, jazz, disco... all of these genres have one thing in common—they were pioneered by black musicians. In celebration of Black History Month, this month's selections highlight some incredible music by black artists. Head over to our Staff Picks page to check out all our Staff Picks.

Find something you love? Let us know in the comments, or share it with the rest of the Sheet Music Direct community over on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Becca's Pick
Overjoyed, Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder's 1985 album In Square Circle won Best Male R & B Vocal Performance at the 1986 Grammy awards. This album includes a few of my favorite songs, specifically his hit ballad "Overjoyed" – one of my all-time favorite Stevie Wonder songs to play on keys, with its rich, lush harmonies and a beautiful, soaring melody line.

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Chris' Pick
Lovely Day, Bill Withers

Bill Withers' passing last year was a sad day for music, but he left us with some truly brilliant songs. "Lovely Day" remains one of my all-time favorites, exuding positivity and optimism. A must have feel-good title for your repertoire!

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Sam's Pick
Charlene, Anthony Hamilton

Anthony Hamilton's story is one of sheer tenacity. It took several failed record deals before his big break, which came courtesy of 2003 album Comin' from Where I'm From. One of my all-time favorite slow-jams is "Charlene," which was nominated for a Grammy award alongside the album. Hamilton's soulful tones are reminiscent of icons such as Sam Cooke and Al Green, and the vocal harmonies in the chorus get me every time.

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Will's Pick
Le Freak, Chic

When Nile Rodgers was working with David Bowie on "Let's Dance" back in the 80s, Bowie asked at one point if an arrangement was a little too funky. To which Rodgers responded, "David, is that possible?" For the paradigm of that "million-dollar guitar" wrought disco-funk, look no further than this all-time classic, arranged here for single guitar.

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Annie's Pick
So What, Miles Davis

Miles Davis' jazz standard "So What" is written in the Dorian mode and opens with repetitions of the classic "So What chords" (3 stacked fourths, with a major 3rd on top) and bassline. This piano arrangement also features a walking bassline extending 2 octaves during the B section. One of the most influential figures in jazz history, Miles Davis left his mark on many styles of jazz including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop and modal jazz.

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Dan's Pick
Speak Now (from One Night In Miami...), Leslie Odom Jr.

Hamilton actor Leslie Odom Jr. performed and co-wrote the powerful "Speak Now" for the 2021 film One Night In Miami. During a time of racial tension and civil unrest, this song reminds us that we have much to gain from the simple act of listening. Between the message and music, it should come as no surprise that the song has already been nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

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Check out some of the best music by black artists via our Black History Month page - all available to download and print instantly from any device.

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