My first piece for TheGrio.com ran on Monday. Here's an excerpt:
When asked about The Bellrays’ show he’d just seen, musician Sharif Iman of Nashville, Tennessee, who describes his own sound as “Seal meets The Foo Fighters,” said excitedly, “This just goes to show that black people can do anything. We don’t have to be limited to just hip hop.”
This moment has been at least 25 years in the making, if you count from the formation of the Black Rock Coalition, the progressive arts organization that was formed in 1985 by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, journalist and cultural critic Greg Tate and artist manager Konda Mason. But it’s been only in the last few years that the idea of a black alternative experience has been showing up more and more in the culture. In the early aughts, James Spooner’s film Afro-Punk and Raymond Gayle’s Electric Purgatory, both of which highlighted blacks in the punk and rock scenes. By 2007, major media outlets such as the New York Times, the New York Daily News , MTV News and the venerable Ebony Magazine noted how African Americans artists and audiences were not limiting themselves to hip hop and R&B. Then black rock musical “Passing Strange” won a Tony Award in 2008. Barry Jenkins’ film, Medicine For Melancholy, about two black hipsters in San Francisco was released to critical acclaim in 2009. Kiss The Sky, Journalist Farai Chideya’s debut novel that’s set in the world of black female rocker, came out that same year.
And that’s on top of the growing number of artists who are charting their own path with sounds not usually associated with African Americans. Those interviewed for this article were encouraged by what they felt the future held.
Read the full article at TheGrio.com.