This week’s reading list examines the visual culture of Blackness as it is expressed through the culture of music and fashion. This includes both the relationship between fashion, music, and identity, as well as the generative synergy that often occurs between fashion and music makers. The proliferation of Jazz and Hip Hop, for example, not only brought forth two distinctly Black genres of music, but also entire visual and sartorial cultures, complete with logics about taste, aesthetics, personal style, and identity. Disco legend Sylvester and multimedia singer and performer Grace Jones, for example, through their distinctive personal and performance styles, generated new and subversive cultural knowledges that have continued to shape the aesthetic vernacular of fashion, music, pop culture, and Black representation. These five sources from our Library delineate a wide-ranging history of how music and fashion have contributed to Black culture and self-fashioning.

Grace Jones performing on Main Stage of 2016 FYF Festival at Exposition Park in Los Angeles, CA. She is covered in white and black body paint with tribal style white paint markings against black body paint. She is wearing a green feathered style headdress holding a microphone. Set against a black background

Photograph by Dave Gould. “Grace Jones performing on Main Stage of 2016 FYF Festival at Exposition Park in Los Angeles, CA.” 2016.