In honor of Black History Month, this blog and my other social media spaces will be sharing thoughts, performances, and resources from and about Black artists. There’s an incredible amount of music in the world created by Black performers and composers, and one month can’t do it justice, but we are going to try! Hopefully the things we explore here together will lead to lifelong conversations and celebrations of the things we discover.
Meantime, what did you think of Justin Timberlake’s tribute to Prince at the Super Bowl? Tasteful? Boring? Great? An assault on the Purple One’s legacy? In an opinion piece that argues the latter, Dante A Ciampaglia notes that Prince, hyper-viligiant of the use of his music and his image, would have be horrified to be remembered so. It brings up questions of what we allow ourselves when a beloved artist passes away, what they give up in order for us to memorialize them. Paisley Park is now a glorified theme attraction, Prince’s music is released on all the streaming services, and his image and reputation are being used to bring prestige and financial gain to artists and locations throughout the country. There are, of course, upsides to this for the average fan, but do you think we are managing Prince’s legacy correctly? Or are we selling him out? Does a white, privileged musician like JT, whose own career has been driven by the appropriation of black music and musicians, deserve the honor?