Saturday, October 10, 2009

Save Our Seventies (Black) Music

Save Our Seventies (S.O.S.) Black Music
Campaign & Coalition

Patti LaBelle is still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!! Philly’s own genius songbird and musical groundbreaker has yet again been overlooked as a nominee for the prestigious honor, even as lesser known and accomplished artists receive consideration. The truth is that overlooking or dismissing the importance of African-American oriented styles of music (and the artists of all ethnicities that play these styles) and its impact on popular music in general and rock and roll in particular, is typical for the mainstream, predominantly white, Anglo-male media.
What we’ve seen over the past four or five years is that the voters (journalists primarily) who determine the eventual rock award winners seem to follow a disturbing trend of diminishing the importance of the 70s Black music movement, while continually lauding musical artists and styles that were not nearly as popular or musically significant.
An artist has to have been in the business (first professional recording) for twenty five years before they can be considered for the rock hall. The list of the 70s greats who have not been considered is both an outrage and a disgrace. Without much thought, a cursory list of the important 70s soul, jazz fusion/funk artists who must be inducted sooner than later includes: Patti LaBelle (and Labelle), Al Jarreau, Gil Scot-Heron, Grover Washington, Ashford & Simpson, Kool & the Gang, Donnie Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, Mandrill, Minnie Riperton, Bill Withers, Tower of Power, Lionel Ritchie (and the Commodores), Jeffrey Osborne and the band – LTD, Frankie Beverly, Rick James, etc.
This is not as important as the Free South Africa Movement or ridding the country of the prison-industrial complex. But, this is about this country’s cultural history, who’s telling the story and what they are telling. We can’t expect black music insiders to take up this cause, although they should. However, whether they do or not, let’s make our voices heard.
I propose we establish the Save Our Seventies (S.O.S.) Black Music Campaign and Coalition. This loose, informal group of like-minded enthusiasts’ mission will simply be to persuade the board of the Rock and Roll Foundation to establish an African American advisory board that will recommend nominees. It’s clear from the nominees and winners of the last five or six years, that the current board needs assistance and direction from folks familiar with African American music between 1970-80. This was too important a time in the musical development of this nation and the world to allow the mainstream press to continually present its biased perspective, which presents black music of the period as insignificant if it presents it at all.
As the rock board of directors considers our request to establish a black music advisory board, we will bombard them with our own list of nominees. At the end of November or beginning of December I will submit a letter from those who have joined the cause to the Rock and Roll Foundation board of directors expressing both our desire to have them establish an advisory board and a list of nominees to the hall of fame. Perhaps we will make an impact and give exposure to the musical giants from the 70s who have left such an awesome legacy and had such a great impact on the world of music.
So, join the cause and contribute a name of an artist (one that generally would be classified as R & B, but I hate that nomenclature) not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who began his or her career or was popular in the 70s. To find out if your nominee is in the hall, go to the website at Join the cause on my facebook page,
Thank you for your interest.
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