I've heard a lot of people complain about how today's music lacks soul and doesn't connect with people like the music of the past. Now I know that every generation feels that they had the market cornered on musical style and expression. The one thing I have noticed about a lot of today's artists is that most of them do not know their music history. I mean if you are an R&B or Pop vocalist and you haven't studied Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, The Isley Brothers, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder etc... then you are missing the whole point. Music today is more about reaching a certain corporate end than making any real artistic expression. In the past making money was always the bottom line but it was understood that the music had to be quality and no link in the chain was taken for granted. That's why the music of Motown, Stax , Chess Records and Philly International sounds as fresh today as it did all those years ago. Now the reason we need to study the music and artists from the past is so that we not only know about the music but the circumstances that created the music. When you look at history and the struggles that were going on in society you see that the best music was created because the music was just an extension of the times they were living in. Music was a life force filled with love, hate, lust, compassion, fear, hope and redemption. So when people bought records they did so as a way to help move their life along a better path via a hot Motown dance groove or to a strong Philly message song. Simply put, the artistry was king. Now in today's microwave society, we are more focused on gimmicks and quick sales than on the quality of the art itself. I guess this actually says a lot about where we are in society. The truth is there are a lot of quality artists making music today in all genres of music but the buying public dictates what is hot and what is not. For the most part fluff still rules the day. If we want to see a change then we have to support this new generation of quality artists the same way we support the fly by night gimmick records. So take some time and study the music that came before us so that you know where we came from and this will help us define where we are going.
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