To reclaim our place as musical innovators, we need music that’s up to the task. We need artists who have the courage to explore new sounds and ideas. But there’s no way today’s artists can do that if their grasp of music history only extends to the latest ‘80s record Diddy sampled.
Just as Stevie Wonder counted Joni Mitchell and her experimental chord structures as one of his big music influences, Beyoncé now credits Etta James and the roots of rock ‘n roll for helping her to find more expansive ways to be herself.
The Black Rock Coalition’s manifesto says, “Rock is black music, and we are its heirs.” These times call for substance, not swagger. Rock, America’s subversive, anarchic, rebellious gift to the world, is ours, and we need to stop treating it like some bad four-letter word.
Rob Fields writes about black rock and the evolving black imagination on his blog, boldaslove.us.
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