Now, I’m an R&B and jazz girl. It’s just in me, so in recent years I’ve been lamenting the virtual disappearance of the likes of Anita Baker, Nina Simone (R.I.P.), pre-1996 Whitney (am I the only one who gets a little teary upon hearing “All the Man I Need”?), Ella Fitzgerald (R.I.P.), Regina Belle, and even the great Cassandra Wilson (I’m a huge fan). Now, some of these women are still performing, but do we hear them? Are they getting radio rotation? No. I have to go to my CDs, old-school R&B stations and Pandora to feel something in music.
|India.Arie performing "India's Song" on Oxygen's|
India.Arie: Up Close and Personal in 2002
Now, there are some younger artists out there who can blow. I can’t deny Beyoncé’s talent (she’s a notable songwriter, producer, and entertainer too). Keri Hilson has a nice voice, but her music leaves much to be desired. Jazmine Sullivan’s husky voice is alluring, as are Melanie Fiona’s powerful pipes. Chrisette Michele is a cool breeze in the R&B game, with a killer voice and a devotion to the greats: “I've been studying Miss Billie, Miss Ella, Miss Sarah Vaughn and Miss Natalie Cole.” Esperanza Spalding and Janelle Monáe are two young, very creative artists who are doing their thing too. Corinne Bailey Rae is excellent, and I love her new album, The Sea. I can appreciate the fact that most of these women are not playing into the commercial titillating aspect of the music biz. Instead, they can rely on their talent—how refreshing.
Maybe there are some I’m missing, but that’s probably because they don’t get enough attention! (If I hear Nicki Minaj’s pitiful Annie Lennox sample one more time, I might throw up a little bit in my mouth. This is why I don’t listen to the current hip-hop and R&B stations.) Meanwhile, I’ll stick to my old-school R&B stations, CDs and Pandora to get my music fix. If I can’t get it elsewhere, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. Yeah, it’s that important. After all, if music doesn’t move you, what’s the point?