All Articles Tagged "black artists"
From Black Voices
Black Friday is here and we’re all looking for great gifts for our loved ones. If you’re also looking to spend some of your hard-earned dollars with black-owned small businesses, we’ve got the perfect online fix for you.
Back by popular demand, we’ve compiled another list of amazing Etsy stores all run by entrepreneurs of color. You can buy everything from jewelry to natural beauty products to beautiful prints. All handmade, all black businesses!
If you know of any black-owned Etsy stores we may have missed, let us know in the comments.
Read more at BlackVoices.com.
As I watched the Grammys last night, something became painfully obvious about the performances I was seeing: black artists were centered on entertaining and white artists were focused on the music, and something didn’t sit right with that distinction in my mind.
I didn’t want to make it a race issue but the difference seemed so clear. I checked with a few friends behind the scenes before I made any sort of comment to see if what I observed was a true reflection of what was really happening on stage, and they confirmed that it was.
I didn’t notice the huge difference until the Beach Boys were on stage and I thought, these men haven’t performed in 20 years and they’re on stage killing it—not to mention the performances by Maroon 5, Foster the People, and Coldplay that came before them. So far, the only R&B representatives had been Chris Brown, who lip synched and danced his way across what someone on Twitter called failed Tetris pieces, and Rihanna, who basically gave exactly what I expected, although others said she either found or lost her vocals in a hopeless place.
Toward the end of the show, I thought how interesting that the best performance of the night was just a woman with a microphone and a powerful voice, but even without Adele rolling in the deep, Carrie Underwood, Tony Bennett, Bonnie Raitt, Paul McCartney, and Kelly Clarkson killed the ceremony. By the time I saw Nicki Minaj exorcise Roman Polanski, I just couldn’t take it anymore. Every black artist was more concerned with theatrics and putting on a “performance” than exercising the very thing that earns a Grammy nomination: their voice. Had it not been for the need for Jennifer Hudson to perform a tribute, the best soul representative would have been Stevie Wonder who essentially sung the word “yesterday” after playing the harmonica. Besides Alicia Keys, he was also the only black artist to play an instrument. Of course, that’s not necessarily a requirement of being an exceptional musician, but it was yet another difference I observed.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to give the audience something to see, but you should also give them something to hear. The Grammy’s is about music—you know the thing you create with wind and bass instruments, a computer, and singing. At a show like that, there should be no lip synching—Chris, or sounding out of breath and off key because you put more time into a mini-movie than rehearsing your vocals—Nicki, or using gyrations and a team of dancers to mask failed notes—Rihanna—although I didn’t think she sounded nearly as bad as some people made her performance out to be. Taylor Swift came the closest to singing and actually putting on a show with a themed set, but she’s in a totally different genre and she still made me want to call up Bey and ask why she couldn’t find a baby sitter for Blue Ivy that night and show ‘em that good dance moves should never take precedent over vocal ability.
What I basically observed from the black performers was sloppiness, and an assumption of laziness on their part. You can’t be a great entertainer if you don’t have the total package. Why do we call Michael Jackson the greatest entertainer of all time? Because he could moonwalk across the stage while hitting high notes, grabbing his crotch, and ad libing. Why do some people call Beyonce the second coming of Michael Jackson? Because she can “uh oh” and “single lady” it across the stage without missing a key. Why won’t people buy tickets to Rihanna’s concerts? Because she just doesn’t care, as evidenced by a lackluster performance and her taste for vocal-damaging blunts on vacation. And while I know the individuals who performed on last night’s show were not the cream of the R&B crop, they were chosen by the association as representatives of the genre—essentially saying they’re the best thing we’ve got going right now.
Perhaps it’s the age difference that’s more central to this issue than race—and yes I do know that Madonna sadly lip synched her way through the Super Bowl halftime show last Sunday—but that still leaves us questioning where music will be 10 or 20 years from now, and explains why so many are taking the death of Whitney Houston so hard. Will we be handing out lifetime achievement awards to the guy who works the autotune machine rather than a live singer? Will we be forced to celebrate mediocrity or high album sales over true talent because it simply doesn’t really exist in the mainstream anymore?
Black artists used to be the center of the music industry. So much of what we did and the trends we set became a part of every other genre from rock and roll to country and pop. We do, arguably, still have that influence, but not for any reasons worth bragging about. It’s not because we’re necessarily showcasing the talent, we just know how to command attention, and music is about more than that. A lot of people question whether Nicki Minaj is unfairly criticized for her antics when you compare her to Lady Gaga, but for every outrageous outfit and set Gaga performs in, her vocals are still on point. Someone in Nicki’s camp still refuses to tell her to stick to rap because she can’t actually sing.
The lack of quality can’t solely be blamed on the recording industry either. Sure, artists with the best voices aren’t always given the shine they deserve but no one can stop the one’s who have made it from practicing and working to get better and building their stamina so they can sing and dance, they just have to want it for themselves and stop relying on pyrotechnics to solidify their place in the business. Chris Brown had an opportunity to really make us look at him now after a three-year hiatus, and all I wanted to do was turn the TV. If that’s what I should come to expect from the R&B genre going forward, I think I’ll pass.
Did you think black artists came up short in the vocal performances last night? Do you think black artists in particular don’t care about honing their craft anymore or has the whole industry gone downhill?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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If there’s one thing someone can’t accuse Teairra Mari of, it’s giving up. Mari could’ve easily faded into obvlivion after getting cut from Roc-a-Fella years ago, but the young artist pushed forth and today, she can claim a steady acting career along with a fledgling singing career. Things may not be perfect yet for the Detroit-born singer but her days are looking bright. Next up for Ms. Mari? A guest spot on VH1′s hit show “Love & Hip-Hop.” We caught up with the busy working gal to have her answer some questions we’re quite curious about. Check her responses out below!
My greatest love lesson is… OMG? My famous saying is “Don’t Chase ‘em- Replace ‘em!”
My best trait is…WOW… I never had to narrow that down. That is kind of tough to answer, but if I have to choose, I will say my resilience. I’ve been in the industry since I was 16 and I have learned so many important life lessons that has made me into the woman I am today.
My worst trait is…hands down my memory. I swear I need to take a Ginkba pill! I am TERRIBLE at remembering certain things. It’s pretty bad. However, I am making it a point to change that in 2012.
My favorite three albums of all time are…this is a hard question?! If I had to choose, it would be1. Beyonce- Dangerously in Love, 2. Jodeci- Back to the Future: The Very Best of Jodeci, 3. Sam Cooke- Greatest Hits
If I could live anywhere in the world…Italy. Such a beautiful place with great food!
My happiest time was…my Sweet Sixteen birthday party. Those were happy times in my life in Detroit. I wish I could turn back the clock to re-live an hour of that day….
If I could only wear one designer’s clothes for the rest of my life, it would be.. I never want to limit myself with just one designer’s clothing; each designer creates his/her own beautiful pieces and I am a canvas for wearing great clothes!
My biggest regret is… not telling my grandmother that I love her enough before she died. When you are young, you feel invinceable and that your family is going to be with you forever, so you take advantage of time until something tragic happens which causes you to stop and think about things. I say all that to say make sure you tell your loved one that you love and appreciate them. Tomorrow isn’t promised….
My favorite pair of shoes are…anything Hot with a 6 inch heel! I LOVE a mean shoe. Any Hot, confident lady should have a MEAN shoe game! Men appreciate a woman with mean shoe game, too!
My favorite book is..I LOVE to read! I try and read a new book per month (whether it’s fictional/ biography/suspense.) However my FAVORITE book of all time is “Coldest Winter Ever” by Sista Souljah. The satire in the title says it all.
On the top of my list of qualities for a man is...EXCELLENT HYGIENE! Their is nothing more sexier then a man that smells heavenly! Whew chile!
The lovely jazz and R&B songstress Lalah Hathaway definitely didn’t let her genetic gifts go to waste. As the daughter of the iconic soul singer Donny Hathaway, there’s a lot of attention and pressure of Lalah to live up to the hype, which she does in her own unique and sophisticated way.
The Berklee College of Music grad has been expressing her musical talents since 10th grade and has continued to grace the industry with her soulful presence for over 20 years. Check out some things you may not have known about the singer.
My greatest love lesson is…. that it makes you a greater person to love. You can never ‘give it all away’- it always comes back to you.
My best trait is… my humor
My worst trait is…. not knowing what my bad traits are? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ….. and being a procrastinator
My favorite three albums of all time are…..three is hard…extension of a man- Donny hathaway, where it all begins- lalah hathaway…and whatever my next record is!
If I could live anywhere in the world…. I am thinking about it now! I like Atlanta, and I like Colorado….I really miss Chicago (my hometown)…
My happiest time was….. so far, college. I really did about 14 years of growth in that short 4 years.. I really found my voice during that stretch of my life- singing and otherwise.
If I could only wear one designer’s clothes for the rest of my life, it would be…… today I would say Queen Grace!
My biggest regret is….. that there will never be enough time.
Inspiration comes from…. everywhere! the trash truck, kids in the yard, rain, a great plate of food…it’s the never ending source from God that sheds light on every single thing…
On the top of my list of qualities for a man is… Humor. I better be laughing more often than not….and humor combined with intelligence is ultimate.
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Slavery. Universally, the word makes people cringe. The notorious era of the European slave trade not only distorted many cultures in Africa; it also psychologically scarred African-Americans so severely that our present community continues to suffer from these wounds. Its effects are so profound that most people do not want to examine slavery’s roots. Sculptor Vinnie Bagwell has an ample understanding of this reaction.
“People ask why can’t we just get over it [slavery] already? Because we haven’t addressed it,” she told The Atlanta Post. Despite this, to help the process she has chosen to tell the hidden stories of enslaved Africans in New York. Bagwell has created the sculptures for a commemorative installation called the Enslaved Africans’ Rain Garden, a preservation project planned by the city of Yonkers. A work in progress, when completed the Enslaved Africans’ Rain Garden will house images of men, women, and children tenderly sculpted by this home-grown native.
With the music world still reeling over the death of British songstress Amy Winehouse, sales of her career-defining album Back to Black (released in 2006) have soared. This is usually the case for most musicians who pass unexpectedly, as fans and even past haters clamor to acquire something to remember them by for the long term. Now that all the talk of the un-lucky 27 is over, and we’re forced to think about some of our own favorite celebrities who were gone to soon, our friends over at Black Enterprise compiled a list of 15 black musicians and actors who they feel passed way too young. From Dorothy Dandridge and Aaliyah to Otis Redding, I’m sure you’ll agree with their picks, and also let us know who you would like to see added to the list. Enjoy!
For the entire list, click over to Blackenterprise.com.
(New York Times) — For years Heidi W. Durrow heard the refrain: editors wouldn’t publish her novel because readers couldn’t relate to a protagonist who was part black and part Danish. But when that novel, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky,” was finally published last year (after about four dozen rejections, said Ms. Durrow, who is, of course, black and Danish), the coming-of-age story landed on best-seller lists. Today Ms. Durrow finds herself in the elite precincts of The New Yorker and National Public Radio — which a few weeks ago began the Summer Blend Book Club, featuring works about multiracial people. And work by mixed-race artists is increasingly visible in museum exhibitions, in bookstores and online — raised to the spotlight by new census numbers that show a roughly 32 percent increase since 2000 in the number of Americans declaring multiracial identity, as well as by a biracial president, an explosion of blogs and Web sites about multiracialism, and the advent of critical mixed-race studies on college campuses. “The national images of racially mixed people have dramatically changed just within the last few years, from ‘mulattoes’ as psychically divided, racially impure outcasts to being hip new millennials who attractively embody the resolution of America’s race problem,” said Michele Elam, an associate professor of English at Stanford University.
Enterprising African-American creatives , small business owners, and more are using crowdsourced funding platforms instead of traditional loans with success.
“IT TRULY TAKES A VILLAGE” was the all caps theme of the updates Raquel Griffin posted on Kickstarter.com, an online funding platform that bills itself as “a new way to fund and follow creativity.” In January 2011, the New York-based photographer and stylist who has racked up impressive credits styling for the likes of Adrien Brody, People magazine, and MTV, wanted to shoot an editorial spread that would address the absence of blacks in 1950s fashion photography—and she needed $3,500 to do it. Using Kickstarter to launch a 30-day campaign that included a video and written pitch to her “village,” Griffin surpassed her goal in three weeks, ultimately raising $4,607. Although starting her Kickstarter campaign was free, a 5% fee was then levied on Griffin’s pot of creative capital.
This charge is worth the tremendous empowerment Griffin gained through joining the “crowdsourcing” trend. With budgets shrinking in response to the recession, particularly in publishing and other creative industries, artists like Griffin have had to conceive of new ways to fund their passions. Through crowdsourcing (or crowdfunding), entrepreneurs are turning to specialized sites that help them fund projects that traditionally would have been impossible to produce without the support of financial gatekeepers.
By sidestepping institutions like banks, crowdsourcing sites allow anyone with access to a computing device to raise money from friends for their ideas. Many black artists—and more—are already riding this wave.
“The old way of getting money is dead,” declares LaShunda Davis, owner of ‘Cure Beauty Bar nestled in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood. “Knowing that banks were totally not giving out loans,” Davis continues, she opted to make her pitch on GoFundMe to acquire more capital. “My thought was to get people and friends involved.”
The concept of tapping your community instead of a bank appealed to singer Imani Uzuri, who has toured the world promoting her first album, which performed with The Roots on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” In less than two months she raised over $18,000 to produce her second album through Kickstarter. She has good reason to exclaim: “Community is power!”
(Wall Street Journal) — “I call it black history with a smile,” said the author and filmmaker Nelson George recently over beverages at a muffin shop in Fort Greene. “Everyone who came here found their artistic voice and became a success.” Mr. George means “here” literally. Fort Greene, the Brooklyn neighborhood he has called home for nearly 26 years, is the subject of his latest project, a two-hour documentary called “Brooklyn Boheme.” The film, which was co-directed by Diane Paragas and funded in part via donations through the entrepreneurial web site Kickstarter, is currently in the post-production phase. It explores a brief window in the neighborhood’s history, from the mid-1980s through recent years, during which time it hosted a remarkable assemblage of African-American and Hispanic actors, writers, filmmakers, poets and musicians as they transformed from aspiring artists into stars. For Mr. George—who, if prompted, will rattle off the various addresses he’s lived in the neighborhood—the film represents a swan song of sorts. When he’s finished making “Brooklyn Boheme,” he will leave Fort Greene, which he says is no longer the neighborhood he came to love in the 1980s. “I think all of us benefited from our time in the community,” he said. “It was a place where ambitious young people found themselves and laughed a lot.”
Recently the tech world has been absolutely buzzing about “cloud” systems and music. Amazon has charged ahead with theirs, claiming that they need no license from the record labels, and Google is reportedly, furtively, working on their own system as well. If so, this could be the latest power move from the tech scene which could make for yet more waves within the already turbulent music industry. But given that Black music has consistently been so coveted (helped by tech advances in ringtones to downloads) just how could this development affect the young artists behind the creativity and who constitute a chunk of our Black GDP?
But first, exactly what is a “cloud”, and how could it enable you, the average music fan, to access tracks from Nicki Minaj to Trey Songz? Essentially cloud computing means being able to access data resources on-demand via a shared pool of computer networks with little management effort or service provider interaction. You can easily access the information from, for example, a Web browser while the software or data is actually stored on servers elsewhere. The beauty of the tech model is that it provides one single point of access for computing needs. Think of it similarly to how you access electricity directly to your home from a complex grid system and doing so without any knowledge required of how the grid system works. You simply can tap into that electricity at any time into any room from the single point access of your home.
Now, visualize that same ability when it comes to obtaining to your music.
One purchase could mean access to any of your devices at any time, anywhere. Thanks to the “cloud”, you can upload and stream whenever and where you want. Naturally, the labels aren’t checking for this. In fact, an exec within the Universal Music system told me that while he could see that fans would love “clouds”, he’s not feeling the system because he sees how it could adversely affect sales. While the average consumer is far from concerned about the economic well-being of such huge music conglomerates; the real question is about artists’ earnings. Since they would be paid, largely, from the streamed model a “cloud” offers rather than multiple downloads, it could be a real negative. Artists make mere pennies on streamed music as opposed to full downloads. The upside, though, could be greater revenue from touring, advertising and further ancillary opportunities given the greater listenership clouds could offer.
Only time will tell how this development will play out, but one thing for sure is that it will have a huge effect on our artists and their ecosystems. There seems to be a need for a collective voice representing their interests specifically in order to help them better leverage the opportunities. In this era, it can’t just be about being an entertainment creative but rather about being a simultaneous digital business opportunist, particularly as a Black music artist.
So what do you think? Are you for the “cloud” or not? Do you see Black music artists as digitally savvy when it comes to their business or not?
Let me know below.