The kids are grown, now what?: Music Transcends

Friday, April 22, 2016

Music Transcends

Me and Leigh and Kent enjoying the 1984 Chicago Blues Festival

"You can love Prince and mourn his death without coopting Black culture to do it."

 I read the above quote this morning. It confused me. I am not really sure how loving Prince and mourning his death coopts Black culture. I have spent the last few hours thinking about it. I'd like to share my thoughts with you.

My daughter and I 1982

I'm a musician. I have been singing for as long as I could talk. I am 53 years old so that is a long time! I picked up my first guitar at the age of 8 and played until my fingers bled. Being a musician doesn't mean you will be famous. Being a musician means that you love making music. It means that music runs through your blood and gives you life.

Being a musician means that you seek out other musicians as friends. The majority of my friends are musicians.Some are famous. Most are not. But each of us understand that we can't live without music. It's the air we breathe.

Me playing a 1967 Sears Silvertone

One of the things that I have found is that music transcends language, religion, politics, color and just about every other divider that you can think of. John Lee Hooker would show up at Maxwell Street in Chicago to perform with the musicians that would gather there each Sunday. Not once did he or anyone else tell me that I could not be there because I was white. Nobody ever asked me why I was one of the very few white girls hanging out at Rosa's Lounge in the 1980s. They knew I was there for the love of the music. In fact, the only time anyone has every mentioned color to me was when Junior Wells told me to get off of my fat white ass and clap for him. I gave birth 3 days later. Interestingly, all three of my children are also musicians.

Good musicians are a dime a dozen. We are everywhere. We are part of your local music scene. We sing in the grocery store as we shop. We attend Karaoke night on Wednesdays. Good musicians rarely see a record contract. Great musicians record. Great musicians tour. Great musicians still have to worry about paying the mortgage and putting food on the table because musicians just don't get paid what they are worth. Iconic musicians transcend. Iconic musicians change the way things are done. Iconic musicians are known throughout the world. Iconic musicians are once in a generation. 

Prince was an iconic musician. His music appealed to all ages, races, countries. He knew no boundaries and when his record company tried to set boundaries for him he broke them. Prince had a troubled childhood. In fact his childhood very closely mirrored the childhood that my children experienced. My kids were raised by a mother who is a survivor of domestic violence and had a father who was an alcoholic and drug addict.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, like music, transcend boundaries. These things can happen to anyone, of any race, religion or culture, at any time in their lives.

When an icon dies we mourn. We do what we need to do to get through it. We mourn the death of Prince Rogers Nelson,  may his memory and his music be a blessing.


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