Melodies from MSIs: Six HBCU alums making history on the music charts

Who can help grooving to the hottest new song with the freshest new beat? Since we couldn’t resist, today’s Monday Morning MSI Line Up highlights six HBCU alums who made history topping the music charts. Don’t worry, we didn’t leave you hanging; we’ve provided links to their songs! Get funky!

1.) Erykah Badu – Grambling State University

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Erykah Abi Wright, better known by her stage name Erykah Badu, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, activist, and actress. Badu attended Grambling State University located in Grambling, Louisiana where she studied performing arts. Are you a Baduizt? Her first album, entitled Baduizm, was released in 1997 and featured her sultry voice alongside hip hop and jazz accompaniments. Soon thereafter, the album became triple-platinum certified by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)! You might be familiar with Badu’s hit singles like “On & On,” “Next Lifetime,” and “Bag Lady”. Badu, who is often referred to as “First Lady of Neo-Soul,” is a legend in her own right.

Listen to “Next Lifetime” HERE!

2.) Sean “Diddy” Combs – Howard University

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No stranger to smooth, Sean John Combs—previously known as Puff Daddy and P. Diddy, and currently known as Diddy—is an entertainment mogul. Puff, as his friends call him, attended Howard University in 1990 as a business major. Diddy has put his business savvy to great use, as is demonstrated by his long slate of accomplishments. P. Diddy is credited with discovering the rapper Notorious B.I.G., founding Bad Boy Records in 1993, producing the hit show formally known as Making the Band, and releasing the Sean John clothing and cologne lines. Currently, Diddy has paired up with R&B artists Dawn Richards and Kalenna Harper to form the group, Dirty Money. His song, “Coming Home,” featuring Skylar Grey, has been performed as a tribute to the troops of the American Armed Forces and is quite moving. Keep an ear to the ground for Diddy’s next projects or even a name change!

Listen to “Coming Home” HERE!

3.) K. Michelle – Florida A&M University

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K. Michelle is an American singer, songwriter, reality TV star, and apparent yodeler. Fun fact: K. Michelle received a music scholarship to attend Florida A&M University (FAMU) by yodeling for the audition! Who knew? K. Michelle is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, having pledged FAMU’s Beta Alpha chapter in the fall of 2001. In 2004, K. Michelle graduated with her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in music. We’d be remiss to proceed without acknowledging K. Michelle’s musical accolades. The singer signed to Atlantic Records and released her album Rebellious Soul in August 2013. The album debuted number two on the Billboard charts. In 2014, Michelle released her second album, titled Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? We know you do!

Check out the entire album HERE!

 4.) Avery Sunshine – Spelman College

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Denise Nicole White, best known as Avery Sunshine, is an American singer and pianist. At the age of 8, this incredibly talented artist began playing piano and even learned to read hymns before beginning to study classical music at the age of 11. AverySunshine attended Spelman College in Atlanta, enrolling as a Piano major. After realizing that the music program was not for her, she switched majors and graduated with a degree in Philosophy in 1998. Some of her awards include: iTunes Best of 2010, Soultracks Reader’s Choice Best New Artist, Creative Loafing Album of the Year Selection, and Jet Top 5 Rising Indie Artists. Divorced in 2008, she currently lives in Atlanta and is the mother of two children.

Listen to “Call My Name” HERE!

5.) Roberta Flack – Howard University

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Singer and educator, Roberta Flack, is best known for folk music, Pop, and R&B music. Two of her classic #1 singles, “The First Time Ever I saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” made Flack the first artist to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year two consecutive times in 1973-1974. She remained the only solo artist to have accomplished such an honor until U2 obtained the same honor in 2001-2002. This talented artist was awarded a full music scholarship by Howard University at the age of 15, making her one of the youngest students ever to have enrolled there. Flack had intended to major in piano but ultimately changed her major to voice and even became assistant conductor of the university choir. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Due to her astonishing work in promoting music education, she was made an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma by the Eta Delta Chapter at Howard University.

Listen to “Killing me Softly with His Song” HERE!

6.) The Commodores -Tuskegee University

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They say college is where you meet your lifetime friends and this is certainly true for this renowned funk/soul band. The members of The Commodores met during their freshman year while attending Tuskegee University in 1968. After winning the annual freshman talent contest, they stunned their classmates and were often asked to play at fraternity parties and weekend gigs at a nearby campus club. Similar to other bands, several members of The Commodores left the group to pursue solo careers. One of them was lead singer, Lionel Richie, and shortly after, many other members began to leave in 1983. The Commodores today consist of Walter “Clyde” Orange, James Dean “J.D.” Nicholas, and William “WAK” King. The group continues to perform at arenas, theaters, and festivals around the world.

Check out their entire album HERE!

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