Chapter Three: Make the Genre Criminal in Some Context
Remember chapter one where complete control of the creators/ artists was discussed? Good, because you’ll need to keep that information in mind as you read this chapter. African American folk music was banned in a lot of places, most times it was even associated with a disrespect of God and his wishes allowing for effective disdain of not just the music but who the music was first associated with. This is not true all across the board of course, in some places the art form was allowed by plantation owners as a way to keep “spirits high”. The French-Creole community in Louisiana celebrated it and enjoyed its lively tunes at festivals and gatherings. The social balance beam that the genre itself was placed on allowed for it to be easily stolen. Remember that when trying to steal your own genre!
Chapter Four: If It Don’t Make Money It Don’t Make Sense
Now that you have complete control of the creators (therefore knowing where it originated from), have studied the elements, and made the genre hard to express as one’s own you are on your way to effectively stealing a genre. What comes next is making a profit off of the stolen goods. Folk music had to re-branded in order to make a profit and it was done very successfully. It would be referred to as “American Traditional Music” or “Roots Music” that would credit its influences to almost every other “American” genre excluding African American folk. The sound that people loved so much would be known by the names of singers such as Charlie Poole, a white banjo player in the 1920s who would be later called a important “influence on the founding fathers of bluegrass”. This is exactly what you want while stealing a genre. Afterall, the most famous banjo players in the world as reported by multiple news outlets are all white when African American groups such as the Carolina Chocolate Drops ( http://www.carolinachocolatedrops.com/ ) should be getting recognition. One of the only known African American banjo players from the 1920s was John H Scruggs and his biography is always a very short one.
Now that you know how to steal a genre hopefully you won’t need this book anymore!
*A Note From the Author
African American Folk music is a very special art form that was created under very exact circumstances so that it could never be replicated correctly. This music being created as an expression for pain, a way to communicate, and a platform to place the everyday horrors of life is almost incomprehensible. And that, I believe is what should be taken away from folk music… the black person’s ability to take the worst that is handed to them, better yet forced upon them, and turn it into something beautiful, something inspiring.