WEEKLY COLUMN to CopyLine Magazine
By Pamela Bratcher-McMillan
President, Chair & CEO, of PETAL et al.
If in fact history repeats itself â€“ as weâ€™ve always been told â€“ when will the era of passionate, not in it for the money creative talent return? Not just in music, but in art too. It appears that these days ego is put before true talent: If you can fake it, youâ€™ll make it.
Then, too, what happened to Soul music? You knowâ€¦Soul music? Soul music was the smooth heartfelt sounds of crooners that would bring tears to your eyes when they sang from the deep bellies of their soul. In magical moments, they would hit that note, and say the right words that would just overwhelm you with emotion and make you smile, laugh and cry. Have you heard a song like that lately? We went from folks singing to folks singing and playing instruments, to folks singing with computer/electronic generated music to everything being done with the computer and electronic instruments in the studio. You canâ€™t make any mistakes in there with voices being auto-tuned! Unfortunately, we miss out on the natural side of music which includes acoustics, strings, drums, wind instruments and naturally beautiful voices. Let there be no misunderstanding here. Beautiful voices are not always pretty. They can be haunting, rich, deep, grungy, raspy, etc., but they fit the song appropriately, naturally and perfectly as they are felt my singer as well as the listener. The best Blues singers actually sound like people with the blues which means they probably really know about it and sing as an outlet at the same time sharing feelings and entertaining.
In fact, we are living in times where our youth are taught the most important thing is how much money you have and how many material things you acquire. What about happiness, peace of mind, and quality of life while honing their craft, if any? We often spend our time with the distractions of chasing dreams, trying to make that million dollars, but in the process we lose what really matters â€“ spending time with family and making sure they are learning values, how to protect themselves in an often cruel world and the art of being happy carefully around associates that often mean them no good (because of their own miseries), but disguise themselves as friends.
We instill in them the importance of having money, but never really show them how to be happy when they have money and donâ€™t have it and how to avoid being taken advantage of while pursuing dreams. Often, theyâ€™ll sell out by putting half-baked music on the market just to make a buck. If the marketing people and news media are saying they are the next greatest thing, everybody starts to buy in, except those that recognize the distinction of quality in music and art. It is very important that they understand how the business side works. It is for profit. The business doesnâ€™t care if you are a one-hit wonder as long as that hit makes them a million dollars. You have nothing else? Then theyâ€™ll just spit you out.
True talent will be found out and there is no holding it down, especially in the age of the Internet. YouTube channels, social networks, email blasts and web presence all see to that. Little advice: learn how to play an instrument. Musicians say it all the time â€œsingers come a dime a dozen.â€ Donâ€™t be one of those. If you sing very well and play an instrument that is great. But if you donâ€™t play an instrument, unless you are using this as part of a plan (youâ€™ll need some degree of talent here, but apparently not as much looking at most film and television today) to become an actor or actress, your voice had better be exceptional outside of the studio as well as in the studio or you wonâ€™t last. Thatâ€™s where the â€œyou should know how to be happy, have peace of mind, and quality of lifeâ€ while pursuing those things comes in. You may need to lean on those attributes one day.
There was a time, many decades ago, before the city outlawed it, folks on the Southside would meet up and have free concerts in parks, alleys on the beach, etc. with some well-known talent singing on the street because, guess what? They just liked to sing and entertain people, and it didnâ€™t expect anything but your time and offering some encouragement, although donations were welcome as the hat passed around. Many of those names were very well known or became that.
As for want-to-be â€œprofessionalâ€ fine artists, quit faking! You know who you are. I went to some gallery showings last year. They were pitiful. There is obviously some misconception that if you splash some paint on a canvas, and move it around you are an artist. Get over yourself! There were what they called many years ago â€œMastersâ€ and they took on what was called â€œApprenticesâ€ and trained them in their years of looking and recognizing things like color and emotion, shadows and lighting, volume and texture. I can go on and on, but most importantly, artists need to look and express with mediums as a masterful creator, and quit pretending, because they think it looks cool and seems easy. Paint if you want, but be careful who you invite to a show, because you may not get the attention again of those that recognize talent after you have wasted their time with a subpar gallery showing. There are very few it comes easy for, and skilled artists know. Curators and critiques recognize the difference too. There are books on this stuff. Please read them. Study other artists, nature, tools and see how they make you and others feel. There is no instant anything, babe. Ask yourself what truly makes your art special, unique or worthwhile?
Pamela Bratcher-McMillan is a technology Expert and President, Chair & CEO, of PETAL et al.