“Black Music is the soundtrack to our culture and our lives. Its impact is unmatchable.” That statement by celebrity pop culture personality Jawn Murray set the tone for the special, star-studded Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame Induction and Dedication Ceremony on July 23rd.
“Today, we are here to honor artists who are global but are from right here from Cincinnati,” said Murray, who co-hosted the event.
It was standing room only inside the Andrew Brady Music Center as the Hamilton County Commissioner and Founder of The Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame, Alicia Reece, shared the stories and impact of the 2022 inductees, which included Pop artist Penny Ford, R&B Group, Midnight Star, Rapper and Hip-Hop Producer, Hi-Tek and Jazz guitarist, Wilbert Longmire. The 2022 class follows last year’s founding inductees Bootsy Collins, Dr. Charles Fold, The Isley Brothers, and Otis Williams.
“We get to celebrate our Black music, our artists, producers and not only entertain you but educate you on the impact of these artists with this state-of-art walk of fame,” Reece told ESSENCE.
The walk of fame project is a $20 million investment by Ohio’s Hamilton County and also requires additional funding from the private sector.
Ford, the first woman inducted into the city’s Black Music Hall of Fame, got emotional as she talked about what it was like to be honored for her many contributions to the music industry.
“I feel like I’m in a dream,” she said. “I’ve been to the top of the world, the bottom of the world and around it, and I can’t think of a better place that I
I would rather call home than Cincinnati… I’m so incredibly honored,” she said.
The Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame induction ceremony took place during the Cincinnati Music Festival weekend, which returned after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s headliners included Janet Jackson, Charlie Wilson, and Toni! Tony! Tone! and many more.
The music festival began 60 years ago and is one of the largest in the United States, attracting over 90,000 people from across the country with top R&B, soul and hip-hop artists. It also brings in $107 million in revenue to the region, making it the largest annual driver of tourism for the Ohio area.
The new Black Music Walk Of Fame is expected to add to the city’s tourism revenue and be a vital part of educating people on the major influence African Americans have had and continue to have on the music industry.
It’s a free, family-focused tourist attraction that will feature video content, a dance area, as well as interactive kiosks, and augmented reality experiences.
“This will become a national and global tourism attraction that people from all over the world will come to see and will understand the stories of our artists,” said Reece, whose late mother was a national recording artist and father, the owner of an independent record label.
Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval elaborated on the importance of that recognition for Black artists and as part of a larger celebration of the city’s Black history.
“We can’t know where we’re going until we know where we have been, and celebrating the rich Black music history in Cincinnati is critical in order for us to continue to grow and advance in the future,” Pureval told ESSENCE.
“The fact that Alicia Reece, a visionary leader, was able to galvanize the entire community, to lift up those Black artists from the past and create more Black artists for the future is critical to how we all succeed,” he said.
A total of eight stars were unveiled on the walk of fame, which is located on the Ohio River Banks next to the Andrew Brady Music Center. These included the stars of the inaugural 2021 inductees. A total of 200 stars will be unveiled at the site over the coming years. The project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2023, just in time for next year’s Cincinnati Music Festival.