Do you esteem the Grammy Awards or nah?

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Adele at the 2017 Grammy Awards (Source: Getty Images)

Did you watch the Grammy’s on Sunday night? I didn’t. But the aftermath of the awards show did catch my attention. There were persons who were perturbed that their fave, Beyoncé, once again was denied the Album of the Year Award for her offering entitled “Lemonade.” Even Adele, who won the award for her 2015 album “25”, seemed to protest receiving the award by lauding Beyoncé’s work over her own in her acceptance speech and breaking the award in half.

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Beyoncé performing at the 2017 Grammy Awards (Source: Getty Images)

On Twitter, I recall seeing a tweet that said something like this, “Beyoncé being snubbed is evidence that a Black woman has to work twice as hard for half as what a white woman has.” Is that 140 characters? Anyway, there were many tweets that expressed such sentiments and it brought feelings of  déjà vu as I believed that we traveled this road in the not so distant past. In 2015, when Beck was awarded with the Album of the Year Award for “Morning Phase” there was much unrest online. Beck’s Wikipedia page was altered to include him being an award thief and Kanye West ranted about Black people not being appreciated for their art. Or what about the famous #oscarssowhite, which was a response to Black actors being omitted from being nominated for the best actor in lead and supporting roles for the second year in a row?

Do you remember Jada Pinkett- Smith saying that begging removes dignity? Although some may doubt Pinkett-Smith’s genuineness as it seemed that her call for the boycott could have been triggered solely by her husband not being nominated… She made a good point. Begging for something does remove dignity and at the end of the day an award tends to be different from a reward. You work hard for something, you may get promoted, a raise in pay and respect from your peers. But an award is something that whoever the body giving the “honor” has the absolute right to give to whomever it sees as fit or not to give that award at all. I understand that challenging the status quo has caused us as Black people to overcome many obstacles set against us and gain basic human rights that we deserve. But the “right” to an award is not something that I see as falling under that category. It seems as if we have not grown weary of becoming black and blue every time that we run to be acknowledged by a predominantly white audience and are pushed back with disdain in rejection. If Beyoncé was to win the Album of the Year Award for whatever her next album will be, will you be able to sleep better at night? Have you ever done the absolute most to get into something deemed as exclusive and when you get it, you’re like, “This is it? This is what I was killing myself about?”

And then, there are some people, Black people, who genuinely do not believe that Beyoncé deserved Album of the Year Award. I saw tweets and retweets from Black people that said they would put on an Adele album before a Beyoncé album. Does that mean that they are haters or self-hating? Although that in the world of social media policing it can seem as if we should suffer from the spiral of silence that shames us into pretending to have opinions we truly don’t have- there are some who are bold enough to say that they don’t think Beyoncé is all that. So maybe the members of The Recording Academy genuinely do not think she is deserving of the Album of the Year Award and those opinions maybe do not necessarily fall on a standard set by race. I’m just saying.

Now, there is Adele who broke her award which has been interpreted as her extending a half to Beyoncé because she felt that Beyoncé was the rightful winner… But why was Adele at the Grammy’s? Was it not to be awarded by the actual academy? I do believe that Adele had the best of intentions but in reality, the reason why people- Adele included esteem the Grammy’s is because they find it to be an incredible honor to be recognized for their work in the industry by the academy which consists of a group of people who may not necessarily share popular opinion.

So despite the outrage and probably as evidenced by the outrage… people still want that Grammy. And artistes and fans alike find it to be a great distinction. The reasons for esteeming the Grammy’s while gazing condescendingly at the BET Awards however is to determined.

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Celebrating Black Musicians

I decided to make a post about Black musicians because I think that the arts throughout history have been a way of documenting where we are as human beings and capturing the mood of an era.

This will be a short list but I hope you learn something new, are inspired and look up some of the tracks mentioned.

 

Nat King Cole

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Nat King Cole 1919-1965 (Source: mtv)

I remember listening to a Christmas song  when I was a little girl and hearing my mother say, “That’s Nat King Cole nuh” and for some reason, I asked, “Is he Black?” And my mother responded with, “Yes.” I swelled with pride to know that this Black man with an incredibly smooth voice was singing this “old time music.” It helped me visualize Black people doing normal things in times that were so oppressive. Yes, Blacks were living and making incredible music with their incredible talents back then too.

Cole initially rose to fame as a jazz pianist and transitioned into  a pop icon.Cole, most notably known for songs “Unforgettable” and “L-O-V-E”, was the first Black person to host a variety show series in 1956.

 

Louis Armstrong

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Louis Armstrong 1901- 1971 (Source: Wallpaperscraft)

Heello Dolly! This is Louissss, Dolly! Louis Armstrong is a legend in jazz music. The renown trumpeter and charismatic singer also known as “Satchmo” (for his unusually large mouth that was said to be like a satchel bag) or “Pops” was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is probably best known for his songs, “What a wonderful world” and “La vie en rose.” Gritty voiced Armstrong was the first Black man to host a nationally aired radio show in the 1930s and the first jazz musician to grace the cover of Times magazine in 1949.

Louis Armstrong is one of the greatest jazz influencers having impacted the likes of jazz great Billie Holiday.

Bille Holiday

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Billie Holiday 1915-1959 (Source: AP)

Billie Holiday born Eleanora Fagan was as troubled as she was talented. However, maybe her talent could be partially attributed to the troubles she endured. Lady Day as she was sometimes called was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She had a tumultuous upbringing- her father abandoned her family, she was raped at 10 and had turned to prostitution as a teen. However, as a teen, she also discovered jazz music and became one of the most prominent jazz figures of all time. If you’ve ever listened to a record by Holiday, you’ll her the pain and passion in her voice. Her style was distinctive as she delivered songs injected with emotion like no other could. Some of her most memorable songs are “Strange Fruit,” and “God bless the child.” Holiday sadly  had a habit of abusing heroin that led to her untimely death at the age of 44.

 

Nina Simone

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Nina Simone 1933- 2003 (Source: JazzSign/ Lebrecht Music& Arts/ Corbis)

Nina Simone was a brilliant pianist, singer and song- writer that was dubbed the voice of the Civil Rights Movement. Simone famously penned the song, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” after being inspired by the Black playwright, Lorraine Hansberry. She also recorded the song “Why? The King of Love is Dead” following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Simone also recorded renditions of the songs “I loves you, Porgy,” and “Love me or leave me.”