By Trent Barrick, MT-BC

I’m ecstatic to share this Spotify playlist for the holiday season! There is plenty music to use for personal or professional use, as well as a little history and cultural insight as well go along!

Let’s begin with Kwanzaa! Originally created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1965, Kwanzaa is a African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions. Rooted in the black nationalist movement of the 1960’s, this holiday intends to spread cultural awareness of traditions, meditations, communitarian philosophy, and what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Kwanzaa last seven days, each day dedicated to one of the “seven principles of African Heritage,” also known as Nguzo Saba.


“The Kwanzaa Album” by the Women of the Calabash is a compilation of percussive and vocal music reflecting the folk traditions and ideologies at the heart of the Kwanzaa movement. The variety of traditional a cappella chant, call-and-responses, and story-telling reflect the importance of collective community that characterize traditional African life. Polyrhythm is evident in the instrumental pieces, associated with formal and informal dance activity in large social gatherings. Singing and dancing are conceptualized as distinct from one another in the West. Dance, singing, and music, however, are regarded within the same terminology in many parts of Africa and also considered vital to daily life.

Many songs can be highlighted from this album, including “Mya Si Grei,” a story passed through generations orally, which lyrically expresses the pride and dignity of a people enduring slavery and hardships. Another song highlighted to me is “Seven Principles.”

As the title would indicate, the seven principles are sung as a call. Each principle is then unpacked by English interpretation as to conclude the response. The seven principles are:

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)




There are plenty of songs for younger and older people who wish to better understand the positive and uplifting messages of Kwanzaa. “Kwanzaa for Young People (and Everyone Else!)” is perfect for teaching each of the seven principles, fostering opportunities for group sing-alongs, raising cultural awareness, and focusing on what is important during the holiday seasons – coming together in unity!





To listen to my Kwanzaa playlist, click here!

For more information, visit the official Kwanzaa website.