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Celebrating Black History Month with Music

The impact Black culture has on music.


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4 min read


  • DJ E-TRANE (Elliott Broadnax), Associate Solutions Engineer and creator of RingCentral’s House Party Friday events, shares his insights on Black history, culture, and music.
  • RingCentral celebrates Black History Month in several ways, including highlighting Black musicians throughout history with a curated playlist on Spotify. 

Black History Told Through Music 

DJ E-TRANE (Elliott Broadnax) loves music. Elliott’s passion for music goes beyond simply enjoying it; Elliott is a music aficionado; he uses music to inform listeners about Black history and culture. In honor of Black History Month, we sat down with Elliott to hear his insights on Black history, culture, and of course, music.

House Party Fridays at RingCentral 

Elliott’s ability to storytell with music became known to the RingCentral community in 2021 through his curated playlist ‘A Black Journey Through Music’ which portrays the history and influence of Black music in America. This playlist was so well-received that it ignited House Party Friday (HPF) events: a bi-weekly event where DJs from RingCentral play music virtually for any RingCentral employees who wish to listen. One live DJ set, attracted over 250 listeners, indicating that HPF events have been a hit!

House Party Friday gives employees a chance to vibe to something at the end of their work day and unwind after a long week,” says Elliott. Not only are House Party Friday events something to enjoy, they have also brought people together. “These events have been a personal connector for me. During a company-wide conference, quite a few people introduced themselves to me and told me how much they love listening to the House Party Friday DJs.” 

Black History Month 

Black History Month (BHM), celebrated in February, is an opportunity to recognize and honor Black history and culture (among many things). For Elliott, it’s all that and more. Elliott shares what Black History Month means to him. 

To me, Black History Month is a chance to hone in on Black culture and to look at my roots and where I came from. It’s an opportunity to continue to learn.” 

Each year, RingCentral recognizes Black History Month with a specific theme. This year, the theme is ‘Expressions out of Resistance’. 

I’m thinking about resistance in a different way. Resistance doesn’t only refer to ‘resisting oppression’. To me, resistance also means stepping out of your comfort zone and taking the necessary action to elevate yourself.” Elliott continued, “Black History Month is about recognizing the resistance and perseverance of people who’ve gone through atrocities and those still dealing with injustices today. 

The Influence Black Culture has on Music 

We originally asked Elliott the question, ‘How has music impacted Black culture?’ Which he aptly responded by suggesting that the question should be reframed: “How has Black culture impacted music?” Here’s what Elliott shared. 

The history of music is based on the drums— specifically African drums. The drums tell a story in basically every genre of music in the world. The drums represent almost every aspect of Black life, including the physical, emotional and spiritual. They were  played to communicate, celebrate, mourn, and inspire. Drums are played in times of peace and war, planting and harvesting, birth and death. Black culture lives through music and that’s why it is so influential. To me, music is everything—music is the DNA, the culture, of Black people. You can see its influence on the world.

Being an Associate Solutions Engineer at RingCentral and a DJ

Admittedly, the two titles are pretty different – but there might be more cross-over than you may think. 

“Funnily enough, messing around with DJing and video production software has helped me understand RingCentral’s video product more deeply.” Elliott continued, “Also, performing as a DJ has improved my abilities to present in front of people for work. I’ve become more comfortable being my authentic self in front of customers, which is great.” 

RingCentral Supports Employees Professionally and Personally 

RingCentral believes in work life balance and encourages employees to do what makes them happy. 

RingCentral is a very open and encouraging environment. If you want to do something, RingCentral is going to help you find a way to do it. The sky’s the limit for potential and that crosses over personally for me.

What’s on the Playlist? 

Elliott’s music knowledge and passion runs deep. We can only imagine that his playlist for Black History Month and music recommendations will be fantastic. Here’s a sneak peek. 

Elliott has created a theme with corresponding music for each week of Black History Month.

Week 1. Black is Beautiful – Music that highlights “blackness in a positive light”, featuring artists like Nina Simone, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin.

Week 2. Controversy – This playlist is all about “songs and artists that were controversial for their time” and will feature artists like Billie Holiday, Prince, Ye (Kanye West), and Gil Scott-Heron.

Week 3. Then VERZUZ Now – This theme was inspired by the ‘Verzuz Battles’ created by record producers, Timbaland and Swizz Beats, and highlights music that “speaks on resistance”, featuring artists like Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, H.E.R., Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and The Isley Brothers

Week 4. Future Beats – Highlighting “up-and-coming artists on the brink of fame” like Steve Lacy, Lizzo, Anderson .Paak, and Ari Lennox. 

Based on the playlist themes alone, we are definitely in for a treat. Have a listen. 

Elliott’s Music Recommendations 

According to Elliott, there are two artists who should be on your radar. 

  1. Kaytranada  
  2. H.E.R. 

These individual artists, while amazing in their own right, were made even more incredible after collaborating to create ‘Intimidated’, a song that was nominated for a Grammy award 2023. ‘Intimidated’ is so fantastic that Elliott and his wife listen to it on repeat. Now, that’s saying something for a music aficionado.

Elliott, thank you for bringing your passion for music and Black culture to RingCentral. We appreciate you and can’t wait to groove to your tunes during Black History Month and beyond. 

Want to hear more? Follow DJ E-TRANE (Elliott Broadnax) on Instagram (@djetrane) or on Spotify and MixCloud (DJ E-TRANE).



Originally published Feb 21, 2023

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