thank goodness it’s not all about pop music…

Esperanza Spalding, photo by Johann Sauty

…”Grammy nominations: Jazz singer Esperanza Spalding is a surprise pick in best new artist category” is the headline for the los angeles times entertainment piece written by chris barton. in a nation of pop music homogeneity, it’s a relief to see appreciation shown for something more sophisticated than repetitious booty shakin’ and adolescent whinging over sex under the thinly pseudo poetic guise ofΒ  love. one would have to question if she would even be a nominee if it weren’t for the invitation to play at president obama’s nobel peace prize ceremony. would she have languished beyond reach of the mainstream limelight because of a lack of radio play and celebrity overexposure? that she is talented is beyond question but the fact that such a diverse amount of talented individuals remain unrecognized by the general population is an egregious oversight in our culture on so many levels.

constantly creatives, myself included, are told that in order to be successful, there has to be a dumbing down of our talents in order to make them palatable for the mainstream market. middle america is our supposed target and we are constantly told that their palate simply isn’t sophisticated enough for what we’re offering. that our talent need be measured by the number of sales made at walmart, kmart, costco or other big box retailers is a sad indicator of what is truly compelling and forward thinking. there was nothing sadder than watching “the end” of project runway season 8, a show that encourages young talent to think outside of the box and morph into tomorrow’s aspirational talent, break down and start preaching the marketability of final lines to mainstream retailers. i fell off my seat and kicked the project runway habit…

i want to be inspired, not wooed by re-warmed market trends!…. but hey, i too am guilty of bending to the trough because i do have a mortgage to pay and like to eat. i just wonder if recognition of talent like esperanza spalding could be viewed as less of a “head scratcher” by chris barton and become more of something that is lauded as an alternative to the celebration of mediocrity which is the grammys. i just listened to an npr piece on makeba riddick and what goes into making a hit song and as inspiring as it was to hear about a sister getting her props as a hit producer in a male dominated industry, it still made me kinda sad to hear the formulaic details of how that hit is generated and it’s no wonder that pop music with it’s catchy beats has zero substance. same goes for the mega studio rehashing of franchise films, remakes, prequels and tepid “guaranteed hits.”

i believe we’ve been lulled to death by mediocrity that a lot of folks in this economic downturn are finally waking up to. it isn’t pretty and it certainly doesn’t keep us on our toes as many are finding that just okay, isn’t cutting it. this complete lack of appreciation for creativity in all fields will be the final kiss of death for our nation as being one of progression as the brightest and most creative are wooed by the call of other nations. if you don’t know what i’m talking about, check out what amsterdam is doing with their push to become the creative capital of europe. international companies are moving there by the droves and it’s easier than ever for talent to get work visas in creative boutiques and the outcome is artistic sophistication that sadly, america is short on…