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Music Is The Language Of Freedom

Great music like great works of art will last forever. Great music satisfies the artist as much as the audience. Great music is in the ear of the creator as much as the hearer. Why is it then that some great artists become wealthy some do not? Why do some great artists have regular jobs and careers that have little or nothing to do with music? Is it perhaps that music has very little to do business and much more to do with art? If you're an educator or a student of the arts, you might consider this comment trivial. There's a community of artists and patrons of the arts the world over who know the music industry has very little to do with music and much more to do with culture and political reform. Yet, the music industry itself - and their fans in majority - do not know that. Society has always found it easy to squander energy on distractions that keep them from doing what they could achieve with focused effort. Giving ourselves to a lifetime of performing, song writing and producing music is a worthwhile pursuit whether or not it's profitable. Fame and fortune is ultimately not a worthwhile ambition. Fame passes quickly as a candles flame. Fortune is unforgiving. It owes no one loyalty. What lasts is enduring faith in the people you love, the expression of true artistic gifts and the creation of the artistic work that is produced from the heart. It's a dark night for music when the media and technology conspire to promote image above technique and creativity. I don't like much of what I hear on the radio these days. It plays to balance sheets more than to the heart in a deliberate, desperate act designed to keep great music off the charts. A century ago, European modernist painters - growing weary of the status quo - embraced African art for its lack of pretension. Parisians had a romantic attachment to the American Negro. Swept away by jazz and the exotic Josephine Baker, the French seemed to regard blackness as something of value, an attitude absent in the United States. Going against the arts establishment, artists gave themselves permission to take new risks, to envision art in a new kind of way. The avant-garde movement of Cubism was influenced by African tribal art. The circle of inspiration remained unbroken. Thirty years later, the avant-garde movement in Europe returned the favor in turn helped usher in the "Harlem Renaissance" and the days of Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club, flappers in beads and scarves and Bessie Smith singing the blues. During the 1920s, during the Harlem Renaissance - inspired by jazz and Euro-Modernism - there was more material published by African Americans than any time in American history. The Harlem Renaissance affected American political culture well into the sixties. It was one of the first instances white elites and social reformers collaborated with black intellectuals, social activists and artists. The Harlem Renaissance attacked the superstructure of White supremacy and the practice of racism. Black became beautiful. Jazz became the language of freedom. Dennis Walsh progressofmusic@hotmail.com

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