An interdependent world

I read today that some Canadian Inuit musicians are boycotting the Indigenous Music Awards because they think a Cree singer is “culturally appropriating” their music, because she “dabbles” in throat singing ,which is an Inuit thing.

So, within the Indigenous musical community, you can’t be influenced by other Indigenous music. One of their singers says “we don’t need anyone to mimic our songs.”

So much for “imitation is the highest form of flattery.”

Oddly, it made me sad to read that. I say oddly, because I don’t follow that music, so it’s not like I care. I don’t even know what throat-singing is.

I thought back to Elvis Presley. He loved black music. Gospel, blues. He was influenced by it, and definitely copied it. In contemporary parlance, he “appropriated” it. BUT - because he made it popular, he opened up a huge market for the blues, all over the world. Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Howling Wolf, B.B. King, and so many more great artists - suddenly they were touring England, Europe, the world. Making way more money. Boogieing with bigger audiences. Changing the face of music.

Everyone won.

But it wouldn’t have happened if those black musicians had blocked him. He was a sweet, sensitive guy. Who knows what would have happened? Might have felt guilt-tripped. Might have gone a different direction. Sung a bunch of corny ballads. Kept it “white”. Fortunately, they were cool, and he got hot, and they all thrived.

Deny others their freedom to create, and inevitably, you lose your own. Your world becomes a prison. Let fear and resentment rule, and you’re putting poison out there, because like it or not, we’re all interconnected.