Emeli Sande’s voice hit me like a mirror crashing down on my head. The force of her voice sent shattered pieces of the glass directly into my heart. The truth of her lyrics pulled back the blankets, revealing the naked scars of my black experience expatriated. Finally.
Was it Jazz… or Rhythm and Blues that fell first? Destroyed purposefully because they held too much truth, beauty and the American Way. Replaced by Disco … a mechanized record player standing in the middle of the band shell where giants once held court… spit sterile beats for the shallow to clump around the floor in unison to. All that happened 30 years ago. Thirty-five if you include that white shoe / white belt wearing, black-man-hating Disco Era that gave birth and nurtured Hip Hop… initially innocent and fun in its adolescence… Then, the Black Radio Station doors were closed one-by-one. Public air waves were sold when they weren’t supposed to be sold. (How can one sell the air.) That which was plural was now in the hands of the few who could decide what you could hear … and what you could not.
“Clown” by Emeli Sande opens the door and allows us to peek into what may have been the process young black talent were walked through. Naive, desperate and untutored, could the gauntlet have felt … much different than the picture she vocally creates?
The cultural Gestapo requesting cooperation … in return for favors. Jay-Z was made by the Social Engineers. Beyonce with her blond hair and half-a-card-short looking expression … was “made.” Not that they didn’t come with talent.. but we didn’t put those spokes mouths for dysfunction where they are. “They” did.
WE made Aretha. Not “the industry.” God came through Sam Cooke, Etta James, Billy Strayhorn, Betty Carter, Jimmy Reed, Bobby Blue Bland and because they expressed whatever needed to be expressed so that we could transcend and deal with the stressors that was coming at us and in so doing develop inner resiliency…. and in the black American tradition, art rode tandem with our lives.
Click here to view–> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OHX_PA25Ok