European Music vs. African American Music

Project #3- Nia Legrand, Jala Stubbs, Ja'Siya, Khanijha Lee, Leah Robinson, Anjae Turman, Aiyanna Manning,Mariah Wolfe

White songs covered by African American artists

and Comparison

After carefully listening to both versions of 'I Can Only Imagine,' It is clear that they have several similarities and differences. In 'I can only Imagine’ by MercyMe, you can distinctly hear that it starts less soulful than Tamala Mann's version. MercyMe's version starts with a slow tempo emphasizing the piano, whereas Tamela Mann uses other instruments.Tamela Mann’s producer may have gone over the original beat to match her singing style. Tamala Mann's version takes advantage of her adlib ability and adlibs in places where MercyMe does not. It is very noticeable that MercyMe's version is more upbeat compared to Tamala's version as well!

African American

In Tame Impala version of Same Ol’ Mistakes it is an electric guitar going through a pedalboard and in Rihanna’s version of the song she uses the same beat as Tame version which is again the electric guitar going through a pedalboard but her voice in her version of the song is very low and soothing. Tame Impala version was Garage rock and Rihanna’s was R&B.

In Whitney Houston’s cover of I will Always Love You, the instruments used are the piano and violin which is a subtle addition under the power of her voice. Parton’s version of I Will Always Love You falls under the country genre while Whitney Houston’s cover falls under R&B/Soul. The most noticeable difference between the two versions is the difference in the genre styles. Although both artists are singing the same song with the same lyrics, Houston gives the song a more soulful and powerful feel. Dolly Parton’s version is more laid back and calm. The listener can feel Houston’s passion when she sings.

African American songs covered by white artists

or Comparison

The most notable difference in Hound Dog originally  by Big Mama Thornton and covered by Elvis Presley is the instruments used. The banjo is a key instrument in the song’s beat on Mama Thornton’s track, however Elvis makes stronger use of the guitar in his rendition. Immediately afterwards, you can notice a difference in the tempo of the music. Elvis speeds the song up, while Big Mama Thornton keeps the song at a steady pace. The song originally falls under the genre of Blues, but with the twist Elvis added to the song, it was categorized as Rock ‘n Roll. A similarity in both of the songs would be the clap sound found in each of the songs.


 Brian McKnight's original version of Back at One is categorized as an R&B song. The primary instruments used are the piano and drums. Mark Willis’s Country version of Back at One also consists of drums. However, Willis’s performance consists of a more noticeable guitar presence, with many electric guitar runs behind his vocals to add a country element. Both songs have the same rhythm. There is little to no syncopation, and there are not any polyrhythms present. The difference in the performance is most apparent through the difference in each artist’s tone quality(timbre). Brian McKnight has a more soulful tone, whereas Mark Willis has more twang in his voice.

In this instance, Chuck Berry uses more bass and the electric guitar in his song. The melodies of the two songs are different, as Berry’s song is more fast-paced with a higher pitch compared to Surfin’ USA. The Beach Boys also incorporated a more significant volume of a pedal board and drum beat in their cover of the song. The melodies of the two songs are slightly similar in the instruments used, but the Beach Boys’ cover has a lot more notable pauses with its pace as well.

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