As many of you know, June somehow became designated as "Black music month".  We can get into THAT discussion at another point.  However, one thing I’m pleased to see is that venerable Ebony magazine  waded into the shifting cultural currents with their June 2008 issue.  This is a good conversation starter for the African American audience that may not have easy access to the progressive sounds we are regularly exposed to here in NYC.   

There are some good and useful quotes here:

Gnarls Barkley’s Cee-Lo: "Black music should not be so synonymous with urban and urban be so easily synonymous with street and street so easily synonymous with ignorant," he says.

Ask your average Top 40 radiohead about this and you’re likely to hear that our music is only hip-hop, R&B or jazz.  That same person might also complain that radio stations play the same song over and over and over again.  Knowing this, why does it seem that so many of us are reluctant to change the station?

"I listen to everything," says rapper Lupe Fiasco, who downloads British group Unkle, jazzist Robert Glasper, and rapper Young Jeezy.  "To keep myself sane and very real about what’s going on, I list to everything."

Lupe, then, represents that underserved population of Black folk who have no problem switching up their playlist.  In fact, every artist interviewed for this music section said they listed to everything.  And, they say, ain’t nothing wrong with that.

So, my hat’s off to Ebony for throwing some light on a sliver of the diversity of Black musical interests.  They profile 15 artists who defy labels.  In addition to Gnarls Barkley and Lupe Fiasco, some of the artists profiled include Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman, country singer Miko Marks, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Ben Harper, and classical ensemble The Ritz Chamber Players.

Yeah, 15 artists here and thousands more coming behind them.

Now, if we could only link to that article online. . .

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  • E Easter

    If you could link to that article online, there’d be no reason to buy the magazine, and eventually – no venerable Ebony. Unfortunately web ad money doesn’t come anywhere close to dead tree ad money.

    EbonyJet.com – which is not intended to be the mag online but a new indpeendent publication – however, covers the world of varied music as a function of what it does on a regular basis with The Tuntable podcast and article by dream hampton et al. It also has a dramaticaly different audience which tends to be more aware about diverse music, so not as much need to go basic on how present the info.

  • Believe me, I hear you, Eric. And certainly, I understand the need to keep the lights on. However, as a blogger, I’m always looking to link directly to the things that I reference. So, perhaps there’s a model that makes it available at a specified point in time AFTER the issue comes off the stands. On one hand, publications such as NY Magazine make their content available online. However, I am also aware that ad spending in “ethnic” publications is a sliver of what gets allocated to the “general” market, so any reductions would feel particularly pronounced.

    What’s the answer? I don’t have one. But when it comes to important articles–and I think this is one of them–the question is this: How does it live on beyond the physical issue, while continuing to create value for both the magazine and consumers? No doubt this is a tough nut to crack and, unfortunately, one we won’t solve here.

  • andre

    I am very proud of artists like Lupe Fiasco and Cee-Lo. I’ve always known them to be eclectic listeners, because their sound isn’t the typical wish-wash crap. Personally, I think the whole black/white thing in America is silly and stupid, especially when it’s put on a art form. Go to places that aren’t America, and they may see a certain group dominate a genre, but I’m sure they don’t give a damn if one of two people from another group are performing that genre. It’s all hockus pockus. Why do we need Lupe Fiasco to tell us that it doesn’t matter? Role Models, the only role models I have is myself and my parents. Oh well. lol.

  • BlackCowboyBurt1953

    I’m trying to launch a Country singing/song-writing career at 57(July 6.)Why do black Country singers get ignored by black music media?