On a day like today, April 4, the iconic Maya Angelou would have turned 89 years old. Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, Angelou was a poet and civil rights activist who published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several poetry books. She was working on another autobiography about her experiences with world leaders before her passing on May 28, 2014.
Angelou, who received more than 50 honorary degrees, is best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, released in 1969. In the coming-of-age story, she opens up about identity, rape, racism, and literacy.
Angelou's work has inspired many people today, including artists who have voiced their struggles by citing Angelou in their songs.
1. Caged Bird - Alicia Keys
The song, which references Angelou's memoir, is about finding freedom and happiness through a song.
2. The Dreamer - Common
The Dreamer, a song meant to inspire people to follow their dreams, actually features Maya. Although she agreed to be part of the song, it was reported by The New York Post that she was upset over Common's use of the "n" word on the track.
3. Still I Rise - 2Pac + Outlawz
2Pac's song, which is part of his third posthumous album, references Angelou's poem And Still I Rise. The empowering song is about making a mark in history.
4. Hey Mama - Kanye West
West, who once stated that he'd like to follow Angelou's footsteps, compared his late mom's beauty to Angelou's poetry in Hey Mama.
5. Phenomenal Woman - Olivia Newton-John
Named after Angelou's poem of the same name, Phenomenal Woman is a song about womanhood that was used as part of a compilation CD in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.
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