Some local artists and others seem to feel one needs the necessary lineage to create in an already existing style, as if those with a different ethnicity are thieves of intellectual property.
One local Facebook commenter, Johnny Chingaz, reasoned otherwise:
"It's a sad state of affairs and what it says about our current culture is nothing good. What is cultural appropriation? Did we not do the very same thing? I never heard anyone complain when we took the German Polka and made it our very own. I still hear it in our music today and so do many of my friends from Wisconsin and Minnesota, but they're not complaining. Quite the contrary, it is seen as an excellent example of imitation being the greatest form of flattery. I think we still have much to learn and even more of our culture to share."
A sensitive area of U.S. culture is the alleged "stealing" of black music by white artists, Pat Boone's sanitized cover of Little Richard's song Tutti Frutti, for example.
Little Richard was certainly pissed off that Boone covered, not only Tutti Frutti, but Long Tall Sally, Good Golly Miss Molly and Rip It Up, toning down the songs' sensuality and lyrics. Boone achieved commercial success as whites at the time seldom bought so-called "race records," but got little regard historically for his efforts. One could make a case for Boone simply "using" black material without respecting or embracing it.
If Boone ripped off Little Richard, the dominant groups of the so-called British Invasion DID recognize and acknowledge their affinity and debt to Black music. Notice this John Lennon quote from Jet Magazine:
- they weren't good enough - the one thing we always did was to make it known that these were black originals, we loved the music and wanted to spread it in any way we could. in the '50s there were few people listening to blues - R + B - rock and roll, in America as well as Britain. People like - Eric Burdons Animals - Micks Stones - and us drank ate and slept the music, and also recorded it, many kids were turned on to black music by us. It wasn't a rip off. It was a love in."
|Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger|
The Rolling Stones also grew up with Black music, unashamedly utilizing the same style. But, they credited and toured with blues legends like Buddy Guy or as Jagger introduces him: "mutherfuckin' Buddy Guy!!!!"
|Jagger at 2011 Grammy Awards|
Who can forget Mick Jagger's tribute to blues legend Solomon Burke at the 2011 Grammys? It was not cultural appropriation as much as cultural appreciation.
Maybe England's UB40 shouldn't sing reggae, leaving only for natives of Jamaica! Lol!
The fact is that artists, yes artists from all over the world sing and perform all types of music, not just the music of their forebears, their ethnic group. In the music world, white men like Stevie Ray Vaughn or Eric Clapton are blues men, singing and playing a music originating with slaves on the Mississippi delta.
Anyone thinking somehow this artistry is cultural appropriation is simply insecure and, in a way, racist.
We apply the same sensibility to art.