Home News & Events Juneteenth Bandcamp Roundup: Black Music of the Midwest

Juneteenth Bandcamp Roundup: Black Music of the Midwest

The Midwest is home to some incredibly talented Black musicians. One way to support their work this Juneteenth is purchasing their music on Bandcamp!


From left to right: Jordan Hamilton, Dizzy Fae, Akenya, Teamonade, and Klassik.

June 19th, or Juneteenth, is the annual celebration of the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. This holiday centers Black culture and how it has developed and persevered throughout the decades. Juneteenth festivities in the Midwest this year are taking many forms, including free online streams, block parties, community meals, and more, that celebrate Black music, art, and culture.

One easy way to support Black Midwestern artists this Juneteenth is to purchase their music on Bandcamp. For over a decade, Bandcamp has been a platform of choice for up-and-coming independent artists. From midnight to midnight PST this Friday, Bandcamp will donate its share of revenue to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, so any purchase you make both directly pays Black artists and contributes to the legal fight for racial equity and education.

Hear from Arts Midwest’s Communications Associate Mia McGill about a few of the artists she’s excited to support this Bandcamp Friday:

Jordan Hamilton, a Black man wearing a tan shirt and red beanie, smiling and leaning on cello.

Jordan Hamilton

I truly have never seen another musician do what Jordan Hamilton is doing. Somewhere at the intersection of Philip Glass and ‘90s hip-hop, he pushes the limits of cello and vocal performance to create something entirely new and completely captivating. In addition to his solo work, Jordan also performs as a member of the Kalamazoo-based Last Gasp Collective, a group that again bends the idea of genre and instrumental convention to create music that has been called “the Black experience personified.”

His music is so diverse that it’s hard for me to pick just one track to feature; for the traditional classical fan, I recommend “Tidal”, or really anything off his 2021 release Vibrations. It’s his first major release to contain no vocals, and the range of emotions that he’s able to evoke with just instrumentals is absolutely surreal. Another of my favorites is “No Songs for the Weekend”. It’s the pinnacle of everything I love about Jordan’s music; he combines an upbeat, moving cello line with smooth vocals, seamlessly switching between singing and rap verses. My real favorite is the Audiotree Live version of this one, which just features Jordan in the studio with his cello and a loop pedal.

Dizzy Fae, a Black woman with a long braid and bright yellow shirt, posing with her hands out. She has multicolored barrettes clipped to her fingertips.

Dizzy Fae

As a queer, Black artist in the urban Midwest, Dizzy Fae is ushering in the new era Twin Cities music. Born in St. Paul and currently Minneapolis-based, her unique brand of dance pop has brought her opportunities from headlining gigs at 7th Street Entry to an opening act spot touring with Lizzo. A classically trained singer and dancer, many of Dizzy Fae’s releases explore her relationship with both movement and music.

So many of Dizzy Fae’s songs have her signature brand of danceability, but my absolute favorite track of hers has to be “Lifestyle”, the leading single from her 2019 mixtape, NO GMO. It’s both personal and relatable at the same time, and has a go-go reminiscent beat that’s a perfect complement to the Minneapolis club music scene.

Akenya, a Black woman with full, curly hair and a tan sweater, sits with her arm resting on a wooden shelf. Flowers rest on top of her hair.

Akenya

There are so many talented Black artists making music out of Chicagoland that it’s so hard to choose who to cover, but something about Akenya’s music has always stood out to me. Her music seamlessly combines elements of hip-hop, soul, pop, and even classical music in a way that uniquely captures the essence of the Chicago music scene and culture she grew up with. How she does it so easily is something I still can’t properly wrap my head around; not only is she able to immediately grab and hold attention with ethereal vocals and unapologetic lyrics, but the way she arranges both the vocals and instrumentals is absolutely mesmerizing.

While Akenya has had features on records by other musicians like fellow Chicagoans Noname and Chance the Rapper, my favorite track from her Bandcamp is her 2018 single, “Decay”. Her most recent release, the song details her struggle with Lyme disease; her raw vocals really capture the pain of living with and constantly fighting a chronic illness.

A Black woman, a white man, and a Black man sit on a bench outdoors, with a city skyline behind them.

Teamonade

As someone who listens to a lot of indie and alternative music, I’ve long struggled with the fact that most of the artists in the genre are fairly homogeneous in both demographics and sound; Teamonade is one of my favorite bands that breaks the mold there. Hailing from Bowling Green, OH, one of my favorite things about them is that they’re a band that plays emo music in the Midwest without being a stereotypical “Midwest Emo” group.

Teamonade is one of the few bands I listen to where I genuinely find every track to be, frankly, an absolute banger. If I had to pick a favorite, I absolutely adore “Do & Die” off their 2019 EP THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING. Osi Okoro’s fast-paced vocals combined with fuzzy guitars and a catchy hook make for a track that gets stuck in your head in the best way possible. While their music itself is again a breath of fresh air from typical Midwest Emo stylistically, Teamonade still finds their roots in lyrics often condemning the flaws of Midwest suburbia, in true emo fashion.

A Black man with short hair, a beard, a cross earring, and several rings against a yellow background.

Klassik

Klassik’s 2019 live album, American Klassiks, takes traditional hymns and spirituals from the songbook of Black America and reworks them with lush instrumentation, rap, and beautiful harmonies. His background in both jazz and hip-hop makes him a seasoned improviser, which shines through in the flow of the tracks on the album.

If I had to pick just one as a favorite, it would be “Swing Low,” a modern hip-hop reimagining of the spiritual, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” In the vein of Kanye’s “Ultralight Beam,” the track features choral refrains paired with Klassik’s raw vocals and lyricism to create something truly moving. The rest of the tracks on the album come together in celebration the traditions and music of Black America; “The Black-Spangled Banner” combines “The Star Spangled-Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black national anthem. Klassik’s emphasis on the singularity of the Black experience perfectly highlights the spirit of Juneteenth celebrations.

Even though Juneteenth is nowhere near the only day we should be celebrating the Black culture and heritage that makes our communities so great, it is a great opportunity to explore different ways to support Black creatives and their work. Black artists are in no way a monolith, and this feature is only a small sampling of the fantastic Black talent across the Midwest.

To support more talented Black artists from the Midwest and beyond, check out our extended Black Midwest Bandcamp playlist, as well as the extensive Black Artist Database.