Getty Images


A Playlist For Mothers: Songs By Black Artists

May 12, 2024

Artists have always been the reflection of the people and music a place where poets leave us lyrics wrapped in rhythms that touch our soul. Black culture is a deep reflection of the creative pulse and upbringing of systematic hardships mixed with a resilience so special it shines brighter with difficulty. Through words, hooks, and melodies from musicians we can see a glimpse into the life of the Black community. One that has a deep appreciation and love for their mothers. Countless musicians have spilled their heartfelt gratitude for their mothers over the years.

As a Mother’s day thank you, let’s explore some of the greatest hits from artists praising the immeasurable contributions of their Black mothers. This cultural excursion will bring us to the sounds of the ’70s and propel us into the mid-2000s to offer a playlist to the women we love!

To honor all mothers, enjoy 8 songs dedicated to you.

  1. In 1972 Earth, Wind & Fire released “Mom”. The band softly vocalizes over a dreamy composition of instruments “Mom, she gave words of love/ She gave me peace and love/ She gave me thoughts of love/ Yeah, yeah, yeah/ Mom, she gave me pains and joy (pains and joy)/ I love her more and more.” Through piano riffs and strings they admit moments of difficulties but that love overshadows these times. 
  2. A year later the single “I’ll Always Love My Mama” by The Intruders, gave listeners an upbeat tune. This Philly group starts “I’ll always love my mama/ She’s my favorite girl/ I’ll always love my mama/ She brought me in this world.” They continue to admire the Black mother singing “I never understood/ How Mama made it through the week/ When she never ever got a good night’s sleep/ Talking ’bout mama/ She’s one of a kind.” They playfully reminisce about stories continuing “A mother’s love is so special/ It’s something that can’t you can’t describe/ It’s the kind of love that stays with you/ Until the day you die.” The band leaves us with the echoes of “I’ll Always Love My Mama.”
  3. “Dear Mama” by Tupac Shakur was released in 1995 as a tribute to his mother Afeni Shakur, an American political activist in The Black Panther Party. The lyrics share a story of a boy in poverty. Tupac replays a childhood of his mother’s hardships and addictions while highlighting the sweetness he received from her unwavering love. The crack epidemic of the 80s left the Black community in urban areas vulnerable to systemic poverty with a pipeline to the prison system. Tupac delivers a heart-wrenching replay of his reality. “And even as a crack fiend, Mama/ You always was a black queen, Mama.” He shares his unconditional love of his mother, through her trials adding in his chorus “Lady, don’t you know we love you? (Dear Mama)/ Sweet lady, place no one above you (you are appreciated)/ Sweet lady, don’t you know we love you?”
  4. Two years later Boyz II Men dropped “A Song For Mama.” They praise their Black mothers harmonizing “You taught me everything/ And everything you’ve given me/ I’ll always keep it inside/ You’re the driving force in my life, yeah.” The group breaks smoothly in the chorus “Mama, mama, you know I love you (You know I love you)/ Mama, mama, you’re the queen of my heart/ Your love is like tears from the stars/ yes, it is, Mama/ I just want you to know/ lovin’ you is like food to my soul/ Yes it is, yes it is.” 
  5. In 2000 “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast duo, André 3000 and Big Bo was released, later becoming a number 1 single. The first verse announces “Yeah this one right here goes out to all the baby’s mamas, mamas.” The beat and melody invite you to sway as Andre 3000 pleads “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson (oh)/ I am for real/ Never meant to make your daughter cry/ I apologize a trillion times.” Unlike the previous songs about mothers shared by Black musicians of love and appreciation for their moms, this song was a sincere apology from Andre 3000 to his baby mama Erykah Badu, and her mother.
  6. In 2002 Nas made “Dance” in honor of his mother who passed away before the release of his album God’s Son. The lyrics bring us to the sounds of grief from a son mourning his mother. Nas openly expresses “I dream of the day I can go back to when I was born/ Layin’ in your arms, wishin’ you was here today, Mom/ Wish you’d appear/ just for a second from Heaven/ My tears would be gone/ I wouldn’t be rappin’ this song.” This piece shares the longing of a son as the chorus plays “ One more dance with you, Momma / If I could only have/ One more dance with you/ Momma/ Praying, wishing that I could have/ One more dance with you, Momma.” As we acknowledge Black mothers through music, let’s support our friends and family who have lost their maternal guides in life.  
  7. “Hey Mama” by Kanye West debuted in 2005 and was for his mother who later passed away in 2007. This upbeat song reflects a son’s excitement “I wanna scream so loud for you/ ‘Cause I’m so proud of you/ Let me tell you what I’m about to do / (Hey, Mama) I know I act a fool/ but I promise you I’m goin’ back to school/ I appreciate what you allowed for me/ I just want you to be proud of me/ (Hey, Mama.)” West raps “It don’t gotta be Mother’s Day or your birthday/ For me to just call and say/ (Hey, Mama.)” 
  8. In a personal piece applauding her mother, Beyonce dropped “Ring Off” in 2014. This song addresses her parents’ 2011 divorce with empowering lyrics for her mother. “After all your tears/ After all that pain’s all clear, mama/ After all them years/ We can start all over again, mama/ And now it all makes sense/ Lettin’ go is never the end, mama/ We can love again/ This is where freedom begins, mama.”

Dear Black Mothers, from morning to sundown we appreciate you. Every day you should be celebrated, so I hope these songs iterate that you deserve to be loved unconditionally 24/7.