Equal Music

Eric Owens, in an interview with the Associated Press:

Awhile back, during all the Trayvon Martin stuff, I was in Switzerland with the Berlin Philharmonic. I walked into the hall for the concert and it suddenly hit me, I’m the only black person in this room. And I hadn’t really given it much thought over the course of 20 years. And I wondered to myself: How would a white person feel being the only white person around constantly in their careers?

The other day I got listening to Matana Roberts’ extraordinary album COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres. An often painful, eventually cathartic musical exploration of black history and culture, it had a pretty big impact on me, the way that only art can. It got me reflecting on Ethan Iverson’s post about the movie Whiplash, and why it’s so much a bigger problem when the dominant culture usurps the minority’s than the reverse.

While the idealist in me would love to see all culture shared, and all influences equally valid, sometimes a society has nothing but its music, and when that’s true, it hurts to see that music shared.

That is of course not to say there aren’t great white jazz musicians. There are. If you grow up surrounded by jazz, and you become a musician, you’ll be a jazz musician regardless of the colour of your skin. But I’m far happier to see more black people (and women) succeeding in classical music.

Via Alex Ross