The New Black: Challenging Musical Tropes

Mar 2, 2016

On Saturday, February 20th, The Music Gallery hosted a panel discussion on the contemporary idea of what black music is, what it looks like and feels like. It featured moderator Alanna Stuart (Bonjay), alongside Val-Inc, Witch Prophet, Garvia Bailey (JazzFM) and Amanda Parris (CBC). The two hour discussion was lively, positive, and people walked away feeling inspired.

You can now watch the discussion in the video above. In the wide-ranging panel, the speakers touch on many topics including their personal experiences of being a black creative and what they think about others in the spotlight, such as Frank Ocean and Kanye West.

One of the (many) eye-opening moments comes when Garvia Bailey speaks about powerful black musicians being labelled as crazy. She says, "I look at Nina Simone and I look at Kanye West... and the strain of creating art and also having to represent something to everybody, and to be beholden to all these different people and be beholden to your people because you’re seen as the voice of your people. Then you have to create on top of that because your soul requires it, and then you have to take care of your family. Lord have mercy, of course you’re crazy! Of course you have breaks in your psyche, of course you have to rest.”

Ayo Leilani of Witch Prophet and 88 Days of Fortune says that being more black just means "being more proud, more visible." To her, it's "having the sound connect with your DNA and your spirit."

Amanda Parris is paranoid they're doing all this work and no one will remember it 10 years from now. "I was explaining that to somebody and they were like ‘that’s about your ego’. And I was like, no, that’s coming from a long line of ancestry that I don’t even know about. You can only say that because you haven’t lost your history and language.”

At the end of the discussion, the panellists talk about the massive amounts of grant money available to everyone and the fact that no one is taking advantage of it.

But honestly, there are too many highlights to list. Better to just hit play.

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