Music

Facing the Music: Does Success Equal 'Selling Out'?

John McGovern

The rise of the Internet has pushed artists committed to operating apart from "the system" further into the fringes. Any artist who insists on remaining “indie” must forget that the Internet exists, and work through tight mediums. As Rob Horning of n+1 Magazine wrote in June 2011, “The total-corporate state may have arrived without our really having noticed it.” Branding becomes much easier. Thus authenticity, which the independent music scene focuses a significant amount of energy on, must find new ways to be expressed.

The Return of the Electronic Dance Music Craze

Gabriella Tutino

Avicii. Swedish House Mafia. Tiesto. These big-time names are on the tips of everyone’s tongues, as each DJ and the music they represent is becoming more prominent and more popular in today’s mainstream music. Example? Both Deadmau5 and producer-DJ David Guetta performed at this year’s Grammy Awards, and dubstep artist Skrillex won three out of the five Grammy nominations he was up for – Best Dance Album, Best Dance Recording, and Best Remix.

Hip-Hop’s Evolution: Forsaking Political and Social Awareness for Material Gain

Natalie Meade

The  hip-hop visionaries  who passed away during the 1990s were an inspiration for emcees today, but why does the mainstream music of today largely disregard the ongoing issues? If one can look past the explicit nature of the music during the ‘90s, it is evident that it was politically charged. The overt lyrics were meant to draw attention to the conditions that most inner-city Blacks could not escape, but it seems as though most artists today are afraid to sacrifice a dollar for the sake of kinship.

Q&A: Why the Grammy Awards Eliminated Roots Music

Peter Schurmann

Marred by the untimely death of R&B diva Whitney Houston, the 54th Annual Grammy Awards this past weekend celebrated musical greats across a range of genres. But mariachi, Hawaiian and Native American folk music were not among them, as they were cut along with 28 other categories in a move that has riled music fans across the country. 

Whitney Houston and the Price of Fame

Black America Web Staff

It's hard to remember now, with hip-hop so dominating the black music landscape, that there was a time when black female singers ruled the R&B charts. Even before the ascent of Whitney Houston, legendary voices like Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle and Patti Austin scored huge hits. But when Houston made her debut in 1985 with her self-titled album, a new kind of star was born.

Cabinet and the Art of Bluegrass

Nadine Friedman

It "looks like it would break if you breathed on it the wrong way, like a server carrying champagne glasses.  But somehow, by the end of an evening," says Cabinet's Todd Kopec of his fiddle, "I'm gripping it like hammer, or a sword."  During one of Cabinet's winding instrumental jams, the delicate instrument does seem explosive in his hands. He's a member of a six-man band blending convivial bluegrass tradition with an intelligent, synced appreciation for all music. Not really what one would expect from Scranton.

“Old Ideas": A New Album by Leonard Cohen

Benjamin Wright

Old Ideas is an apt title for Leonard Cohen’s first new studio album in eight years, insomuch as the album’s themes are familiar ones that weave through Cohen’s collections of song and poetry - mortality, Judeo-Christian morality, faith, and love - leaping between the darkly comedic and the tragic. His superb song-writing still underscores his significance as a poet, revisiting old themes and sounds in new ways on his 12th studio album, released by Columbia Records on January 31.

Multitalented Street Musician Is Part of the Growing Underground Economy

Ellison Libiran

From  New America Media: Twenty-four year-old Karla Mi Lugo has been street performing for four years. Up and down the West Coast and San Francisco is her current stage.  Street performing is Mi Lugo’s main source of income. She says 40 bucks a day is good enough for her. Mi Lugo is part of the growing underground economy, a market where service is given without contracts or receipts and the term “under the table” is the password. 

Can You See the Real Me? Quadrophenia Revisited

Bailey Pennick

The Who recently released an expanded deluxe CD of Quadraphenia. Pete Townshend’s brainchild allows the listener to relate to the  music on a deeply personal level. The Who’s lesser-known rock opera (always overshadowed by the one about that deaf, dumb and blind kid) follows the struggles of Jimmy, a London teenager who is consumed by the problems that every awkward adolescent faces.

Kennith Kimery: All That Jazz

Kyle Kelly-Yahner

Thirty years ago, you could find Kennith Kimery in German rock clubs, playing anything from the Beatles to Journey. Today you might find him in Egypt, in front of the Sphinx, with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, drumming along to music from Duke Ellington to Benny Goodman.  Or he might be in his office at the National Museum of History scheduling interviews for the Smithsonian’s Jazz Oral History Program, or conducting interviews with legends such as Toots Thielemans or David Brubeck. 

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