The first question is, as ever, the most important: What am I doing here?
I’m here because I have a long history in what can be called “alternative Black music.” Since my days as PR guy for Kelvyn Bell and his band Kelvynator, my stint as PR director for the Black Rock Coalition, to my role as manager for musicians such as Graham Haynes, Josh Roseman and Remileku, I’ve believed that Black rock has a lot to offer, particularly for the Black community. An important component of Black rock is about imagination. That is, because Black rock is music that encompasses the full range of the Black musical spectrum—not just hip hop and R&B—it brings with it a sense of enormous possibilities that speak to the core questions of African American identity.
- Who am I?
- Who can I become?
- How do I honor my history in this country, while charting a bold future?
- How do I recognize the art and culture that our forebears gave to America—gifts that I’ve been separated from–and then reconnect with it?
This is important: The racialization that our country engages in, along with its institutional racism, has put a lid on our potential. Yes, many overcome these limitations, but many more don’t. One of the sad effects of institutional racism is that it puts frames our notions of black authenticity. This is purely a function of exposure. A cultural anthropologist I know talks about being able to engage in “pattern recognition.” Your ability to make sense of what you’re seeing/experiencing requires prior exposure to something similar, so that you can say, “Oh, yeah. This is kinda like that.” When people are only exposured to a limited range of music is makes it nearly impossible for them to experience Black rock and see its relation to music that’s more familiar to them.
Yes, I could continue with the bitch session. But that’s not the purpose of this blog. What I’m interested in is expanding the audience for what’s broadly called Black rock. I’m particularly interested in this as a marketer. The conundrum of Black rock is that the most obvious audience for this music is Black people. So, the question for me is not how to market the music to black folks, but how to bring more black folks to the music. The former, well, the Black Rock Coalition has that covered. It’s the latter that needs to be explored. Not only would it create more demand for the music, but it would change lives.
So, join me on this journey into Black rock. You’ll find that it’s not as alien as you think. It’s just about finding the right place to enter. And I’m going to show you a lot of doors to choose from.