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Get On Up! Get Into It! Get Involved!

Get On Up! Get Into It! Get Involved!

Not too long ago, two of my colleagues in the music biz - longtime veterans of classic pop & soul - bemoaned what they are seeing as the demise of contemporary music. With much of commercial radio playing tunes with questionable lyrics, whiny vocals as well as sampling more & more older recordings, my two friends felt that the era of solid songwriting, musicianship, arrangements, production & performance has come to an end. The response they received varied - from agreement to argument.
But one person had some food for thought - if this demise is happening, what are these folks and other veterans doing to help preserve and pass on their knowledge to the next generation - regardless of whether the current music industry welcomes their help or not. I happen to agree with this responder and that is indeed the challenge music folks are facing today. Therefore the next series of articles under the banner "Get On Up! Get Into It! Get Involved!" (with a big thank you to the late Bobby Byrd) will focus on how  "everybody over here" (thanks, JB!) who love music can help the industry maintain the foundation of excellence set forth by those before us.

PART ONE - GO TO CHURCH, GO TO SCHOOL

It's been known for at least three centuries (yes, I said centuries) that the best talent came from two places - church and school, the diamond mines of singers & musicians honing their skills and being nutured by those leading them like raw jewels being refined by an appraiser. My advice - get up on a Sunday morning and check out the church choir - their soloists and backing musicians. Offer services to the parish's minister of music as a musician or even a contributor of original music. If a musician owns a studio or has access to recording equipment, record the singers for an album they could release to help raise funds for the church. This worked for a west coast-based youth choir who cut a record they sold to offset travel expenses to music conferences. Copies of their disc fell into the hands of
disc jockeys in San Francisco who then had several requests after airing a track called "Oh Happy Day". The result was a major record contract for the group who then changed their name from the Northern California State Youth Choir to the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

As far as schools are concerned, check the community calendar for concerts given by middle or high schools. Call up the town's board of  education & offer to be an "artist in residence" - a musician who works with school kids, exposing them to genres of music not normally offered in the curriculum. This would be a great way for those who composed and/or recorded classic soul & pop tunes to introduce them to young folks in school choirs and symphonic orchestras. How about a song review of a composer's work? Schools across the country have staged their own productions of "Leader Of The Pack" (the late Ellie Greenwich) and "Smokey Joe's Cafe" (Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller).
Here's a few suggestions - "Sideshow - the music of Bobby Eli & Vinnie Barrett", "Shop Around! The works of Smokey Robinson!" In fact,  the composer themselves can offer their services to schools who want to stage a song review of their work (again, kudos to the departed Ellie Greenwich who did so for "Leader..").

NEXT CHAPTER - BE A COMMUNITY MUSIC ORGANIZER

Comments

  • M 4 years ago

    I like the new series Kev my only concern, what about the artist that are out here but not getting any love from major radio. As a result, they are not getting heard by a mass audience and are being overlooked. Many of these ladies and gents have the quality and sound your friends are looking for. Many of these artist are being forced to look outside the States in order to get airplay and sell records. Why continue to push them aside?

    I truly believe nurturing young talent is a must but let's not forget we have talent that has been around for awhile.They should not be forgotten or neglected simply because they are no longer young or fit in todays demographic.

  • Kevin Goins 4 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback. I have another series I'll be launching after this one that will address how the old guard can market themselves today.

  • Kevin Goins 4 years ago

    Also bear in mind that this series also addresses how the old guard can be active in today's world as well.

  • Juice 4 years ago

    Excellent article Kev. One of the problems these days is the drastic slashing of funds for school programs such as music. When we were in school in the mid '60s through the late '70s, most schools had budgets for extra-curriculars. Nowadays, especially here in New York, due to insurance issues & a complete lack of funding, I know of schools who no longer offer their students music or band, much less Gym anymore.

    At least 2 generations of children are being cast aside in the name of government bailouts, excessive bonuses for Wall St. execs & a complete failure for these budgetary geniuses to recognize that children are our future & that their minds need to be cultivated beyond the crap that they hear on the radio & on tv & music videos.

    Everyone blames the youth of today for producing crap, yet they've been systematically stripped of anything which would better educate them musically & nurture any form of the arts within their souls.

    I say that we have failed them...Utterly!

  • Juice 4 years ago

    By the way, don't get me started about what these Program Directors & conglomerates have done to the radio format. Gone are the days when we could have a Frankie Crocker, an Eddie O'Jay or a Gary Byrd, who were like representatives of our neighborhoods. Nowadays, hey want everyone to sound the same & don't want anyone to have their own flavor or flair. They want everyone to follow the pack & the only time that they seem to deviate is when they want some 'Shock Jock' to act like immature children & lower the curve into the sewer.

    It's truly a shame what's happened to radio, but that's what always seems to happen whenever 'big business' gets involved. They seem to ruin everything that they touch, much to the detriment of all of us.

  • M 4 years ago

    Thanks Kev, I'll look forward to it.

    Hey Juice, good to see ya.

  • pwajdeur 4 years ago

    For starters I must say thank you again for an enriching and encouraging article Kevin. Being a player in rock, Hip Hop and jazzy alternativish scenes, I had the pleasure of playing drums for a Hip Hop/ alternative crew and I was an organic drummer for AzOne with Black Sun. It was great to be solid enough to lay down the beats, as a humachine! It is a shame people use the oldies as base tracks/sample rip offs, somewhat an honor for those that are used, somewhat a laziness I believe. Not only are we in a dilemma of ripping off old riffs, but MP3s sweep this nation like it's the best way to "share, rip, and roll" Dynamics are lost with the slim pickings of quality they "transfer" and the business suffers. I agree we need to respect the real and quality preserve it or it will fade like old thermal receipts, that disappear in time so the customer has no record. Sorry to get tangential, but it is so similarly relevant I believe, this temporal state we're in! Respect art,love creator

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