Thursday, August 2, 2007

Before The Music Dies.....YOU GOTTA SEE IT YA'LL!!!!

Hey Ya'll! I went to an AMAZING screening of a documentary on Tuesday night...I got an invite via my MySpace page from one of my MS friends named "SistaSuga". I found out that SistaSuga, whose real name is Pam, is one of the founders along with another sister named Detrel of a group called "ONUTSS" which stands for "One Nation Under The Soul Shack" and they were the hosts for this particular screening.

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Narrated by Academy Award® Winner Forest Whitaker, BEFORE THE MUSIC DIES (B4MD) is an unsettling and inspiring look at today's popular music industry featuring interviews and performances by Erykah Badu, Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, Branford Marsalis, ?uestlove and a wide variety of others. The documentary film has built a passionate following as "the most important film a music fan will ever see" (XM Radio) by providing "a balanced overview of the state of the rock scene of America" (The Wall Street Journal) and adding "passion to the eternal debate about the industry" (The New York Times).

BEFORE THE MUSIC DIES (B4MD) tells the story of American music as its future hangs in the balance. Filmmakers Andrew Shapter and Joel Rasmussen traveled the country, hoping to understand why mainstream music seems so packaged and repetitive, and whether huge corporations really had the power to silence musical innovation. The answers they found on this journey..ultimately, the promise that the future holds..are what makes B4MD both riveting and exhilarating.

Now I gotta tell you in all honesty that I don't usually attend most of the events that I get invited to but this one struck a chord with me AND the screening was in my I just couldn't resist. I swooped up my running buddy Deb and we walked over to Seventh Avenue for the was a bee-YOO-tee-ful summer evening and with the both of us considering ourselves to be "music heads" we were excited about what we were about to see!

We got to the venue at around 6:15pm (just in time...they were about to start) and we were greeted immediately by Pam...we exchanged hugs and introductions and we quickly found some seats. The movie opened with a clip of Ray Charles and a very young Billy Preston (in a Lemon Yellow suit!) performing "Agent Double-0 Soul" was an amazing thing to see because performers just don't get down like that on stage anymore. Billy was actually....GASP!!...ENTERTAINING!!!! The room was so moved by that clip that we all burst into applause when it ended.

The movie was a lesson to me as to how the music business worked in the past and how it works now....and what I learned about the direction that music is taking and how radio selects their "playlists" was absolutely appalling to me. The appearances by Erykah Badu, ?estlove & Branford Marsalis, Bonnie Raitt and the things they had to say about the business (like how difficult it would be for artists like themselves or me (Waaaayyy past, bald as an eagle AND a BIG girl to boot!!!) to get into the game now....should be a wakeup call for anyone who even remotely THINKS about calling themselves a musician.

The most telling part for me however, was when one of the interviewers stood outside of an Ashlee Simpson concert and asked her young fans what her music meant to them or what it inspired them to do and their reply was "nothing". WTF???

Dang ya'll.

When I left a James Brown concert..I always left feeling good about myself, proud to be who I am and motivated enough to feel like I could go out and change the world!!!!

I don't know about anyone else but I have always believed that music is supposed to inspire, motivate, uplift, invigorate, make you reminisce, move you to action...but damn it!!! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO FEEL SOMETHING!!!!!

Otherwise, it's just noise...isn't it?

As a vocalist myself (see album, the product of a home where music was in abundance....Music has been an integral part of my being since I could talk. I don't think I could have made it through my 47 years without it. So AS a musician I can honestly say that I don't think I'd be too happy if my fans said that about MY music. That single scene spoke VOLUMES to me regarding the state of the music industry today.

But the good thing about this movie is that it offered hope to all of the independent artists and budding musicians (myself included). Without giving away the whole damn movie....I will just say this. There IS another way....GO SEE IT. I LOVED IT.

Now after the screening ended (they were kind enough to roll the clip of Billy Preston & Ray Charles one more time for the latecomers), there was a lively little discussion about folks thoughts of what they had viewed. One sista stood up and said that she thought that the movie should have had more black artists and their views...bladdah...bladdah...bladdah...totally throwing the whole "Black & White" thing in the mix. A few people disagreed with her view point and she got a little defensive. She mentioned that she was a filmmaker AND the daughter of a jazz I suggested that if she didn't see HER view point in this particular film...perhaps she (as a filmmaker) should go out and make the movie that SHE wanted to see HERSELF....And I told her "YOU'RE a filmmaker...Make it. I would go and see it."

Well I thought I was being totally encouraging...but I got the feeling that the sista took it completely the wrong way. No matter....I enjoyed the film anyway...And I STILL recommend it to all.

Hey Pam and ONUTSS! We had a wonderful time, thank you so much for inviting us and please continue to keep me on your mailing list!

"Clarity comes with understanding and knowledge comes with truth."

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