While watching the Today show this morning, I remembered a conversation I had with a friend years ago about Joss Stone. Although I wasn’t a fan of Stone’s music anyhow, my friend was always irritated by her performances. She was “imitating Black women,” my friend always said. I kinda got it. There was a difference between having a great, soulful voice and trying to mimic the great soul singers of the past.
Jessica Sanchez, the American Idol runner-up, has brought up the question of authenticity and mimicry for me. Let me just state that I’ve never watched American Idol. All I know about this girl is the two songs she performed this morning on the Today show, which were in itself the most two cliché songs any performer can choose to convey themselves. She sang “I Will Always Love You” and “And I Am Telling You.”
She does have an amazing voice but all the while I was thinking that I wish I could tell her: “do you.” Because it honestly felt like she was doing someone else. She was imitating what she has seen over the years from the great soul singers. At 16, she is indeed young and still has yet to find her lane. Maybe it’s novel for a teenage Filipino girl to sound like Aretha Franklin, but it doesn’t seem authentic (to me at least).
Check out her performance above. What do you think?
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