Home Entertainment Black Music in America and Its Impact In The UK

Black Music in America and Its Impact In The UK

This week saw Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am announce that he’s hoping to make London his home. Truth is, we’ve loved him as a judge in TV show The Voice and have taken him to our heart.

When interviewed by the London Evening Standard, Will said he feels ‘accepted’ by us Brits. And that’s something we do – when we meet a musician that we like, we simply accept them. Doesn’t matter what nationality, race or creed they are.

Is it something more typically British than American? Will’s appearances on The Voice have been, at times, controversial. Just this week, he criticised Max Milner – just before he was eliminated – for a lack of imagination when singing the Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’. Actually, Will was right – it was a good performance, but not an original version.

Maybe we love the fact that you get what you see with Will.

There’s definitely something about our acceptance of musicians from elsewhere in the world. While sales of recorded music continue to decline, the UK festival market is growing and there’s some great world musicians performing alongside home-grown talent this summer. In the same weekend, you can hear jazz, blues, pop, hip-hop, reggae, ska and everything in between. And, what’s more, most people don’t stick to one genre – eclectic taste rules, especially in live music.

Launching at the end of this week, British Black Music Month sees a celebration of all that we are over here. Different from America, very definitely.

But it’s not just black musicians in the UK who have taken a cue from over the pond – the Beatles were massively influenced by Motown and Eric Clapton wouldn’t have been the guitarist he is without BB King doing his stuff first. Same with Amy Winehouse and the influence of Aretha Franklin.

We were devastated by the death of Marvin Gaye for taking away more of his voice. We wouldn’t have The Rolling Stones without them taking their name from the Muddy Waters track. This is white kids listening to black music and really not caring about skin colour.

The danger is that we listen to American black musicians and ignore our own. Tinie Tempah, Chipmunk and Wretch 32 are being recognised by the mainstream media as note-worthy musicians and artists. There’s more coming up behind them and they deserve a listen. Because Britain really does have talent, despite what you might believe watching Simon Cowell’s latest TV show.

So, yes, Will, come and join us. But help us support our own black artists. Because they’re doing good stuff. Maybe Black Music Month is a good time to start.

  • http://twitter.com/RonGreezy Ronald A. Grant

    Great article! All of this is very much true as Black artists have influenced so many other artists all over the world, and the UK is always a great place to discover new music and learn about music history. Thanks!