African American Studies
ISummarized By: Eddie Mikus
Monique Fortune was a Professor of Communications at Fordham University who also works for WFUV. She provided some insight to the Bronx African American History Project about the development of the borough’s musical culture. Fortune also spoke about how Bronx musicians gained national prominence through groups like the Chantels.
Fortune stated that musical genres such as doo-wop and hip-hop had their origins in the 1940s when musicians started to emphasize harmony over melody. She stated that this development led to the formation of doo-wop. Fortune also stated that buildings such as churches and Police Athletic Leagues served as concert venues for doo-wop groups forming during the 1950s and 1960s. According to Fortune, the musicians of the 1950s came out of various places in New York City, such as the South Bronx, Crotona Park, Harlem, and Brooklyn.
Furthermore, Fortune also spoke about how the Bronx musical culture reached a national audience. This she attributed to a group known as the Chantels, who produced a number of hit songs including, “He’s Gone,” “Maybe,” and “I Love You So.” The Chantels also paved the way for other music groups that came out of the Bronx, such as the Ronnettes and the Shirrelles. Fortune said that one of the Chantels’ songs, “Maybe,” was used in film soundtracks during the 1980s and 1990s. She also identified Lillian Leach as another major singer that performed in the Bronx during the 1950s.
Overall, Monique Fortune bore witness to the rise of this musical culture, which transcended the limits of the borough and reached the ears of nationwide audiences. Her assessment, then, stands as a testament to how vibrant musical traditions emerged in the Bronx, as well as to how groups from the Bronx have been able to influence national trends in the field of music.
Fortune, Monique. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. Digital Archive at Fordham University.