Black Music Month 2013 - Part 4
June 25, 2013
In this the fourth and final chapter of our current series for Black Music Month 2013, we want to recognize the many contributors -- artists, writers, publishers, executives, programmers, air talent, promoters, journalists, educators, students and even members of the general public who join with us each year to acknowledge and recognize the immense contributions of African-American music and radio to our changing culture. Combined they are mirrors of our outer and inner selves.
As we prepare to usher in another musical milestone, despite the economy, there is still reason for hope. One of the reasons for that hope is the fact that we are still here in the struggle together. We didn't choose to be, but we are. Unfortunately, some that would like to have been here have been called away, which underlines the fact that longevity is a precious commodity and life is sweet.
Black Music Month is about the music, naturally, but it's also about recognition and it's about time. Time is a continuum with no beginning or end through which the past, present and future are measured.
For all of us, time is taking its toll. Just to survive, most of us have had to keep moving and grapple with that elusive enemy called time. We've also had to battle with the monolithic majority corporations. The competition has forced us to be stronger. It has spawned a more sophisticated communicator and a more highly skilled executive.
They're both achievers who are part of a professional class that's better educated, economically and politically astute. One that's made gigantic strides. Because of them, there is new reason for hope.
The current generation has set up institutions that will continue to benefit them and their children as they prepare to grow old and live longer than any other generation. In today's tough economic times, they can no longer spend what they want or cut their own taxes. The ultimate baby boomer philosophy of "we want to have it all" has changed. Groups have been forced to adjust, yet they're not a generation that has had to deal with the reality of sacrifice.
Often when people get older they turn to the younger generation and say, "Well, it's your turn now." I feel a little differently. Rather than just passing the torch and saying, "We did our best," this generation, which dreamed such big, impossible dreams, with the re-election of Barrack Obama, has seen some of those dreams come true. This is the same generation that refuses to step aside and sees itself as part of change that it still passionately believes will continue.
The origins of the entertainment culture can be traced back to the phonograph record and AM radio, both of which made possible for the first time the development of a genuinely mass-musical culture. But until very recently, entertainment was a luxury in which we could only indulge on occasion. Now it is a daily reality, perhaps a necessity, and certainly, in the minds of many of us, an entitlement.
During these past weeks, we have continued in our proud tradition of recognition by combining our dreams with those whose dreams have been affected by consolidation, downsizing, unemployment, accidents, illness, poverty and simply growing old.
We know the clock is ticking. During Black Music Month 2013, we keep touching and recognizing distinguished people and events from all sides of our industries. Men and women who have taken the lead in helping to mend the ugly rips in the fabric of society and restore the fragile bonds that so many of us thought we were building. Just by believing in themselves and refusing to give up or give in, they have given back.
Some of those who we want to recognize this year are people whose efforts and contributions have enriched lives and whose sacrifices might have gone unnoticed:
There is a chance that this generation may reclaim its earlier legacy. They could have a second coming in terms of social idealism and find new ways to contribute that mean something beyond themselves. In some realms, this new generation already takes pride in what they have bequeathed. Women, for example, are breaking into many male-dominated fields on a broad, new scale providing expanded options for those who follow.
This generation didn't invent the genre, but they were the fans who made it so durable. Even as music remains youth-oriented, today's young "music freaks" couldn't escape the feeling that they wanted something more. They now have to admit that both the performers and the times have changed. The explosion of energy that began in the '90s is just a memory
Although there has been some progress made, even since last year we still live in a time and country where many of us continue to be deliberately isolated, racially classified and often systematically deprived of both the resources and the opportunities to succeed. For too long and despite our obvious talent and gifts, we have been allowed to only assume limited roles in our industries.
Black Music Month allows us to reflect on the rich history of the radio and music industries that conveys from one generation to another its lessons and obligations. Accumulated experiences and sharing of the histories is what Black Music Month is really about. They define our opportunities. It is our hope that by recognizing those events and opportunities we've selected, we will help to encourage dignity for what they accomplished
It is still our feeling that our industries may be on the verge of a new era. One that is faster, funkier, filled with electronic challenges, new opportunities and eventually, for a select few, huge rewards. That's part of the new reality of Black Music Month. And as we continue to celebrate with you, we encourage you to join us in looking back and we remind you that the journey is frequently as important as the destination.
In front of the ears of our listeners in markets both large and small are faces. Worried faces that reflect lives broken by the economy. Communities have been shattered by crime and drugs. Futures are clouded by fear and uncertainty.
These people have questions that must be answered. As we expand our efforts to survive, we must seek out and provide answers. Few people wield the power to bring about social change on the scale that our stations can. In a very real sense, we are part of the modern social justice movement and those of us who can respond to change need to meet the challenge and help to make a difference because the world is watching both our achievements and our failures. We cannot be afraid of growing slowly. We can only be afraid of standing still.