There was a time when an artist was content to sing a song and put it out for the listening public to get a feel for it. Now we are in the new century and the big talk is about crossing over. I have always asked cross over what? Calypsonian Shadow took my thoughts and put it to music. He says if he crossover, his fans will tell him to cross back. Music is music wherever you go.
The argument by some is that an artist can only be successful if the music is changed to fit a style outside of that artist's genre. I say if you have a talent for singing a song what do you need to cross.
People enter record stores and buy music in a language not understood by them. They didn’t buy the music because it was translated into their mother tongue, but because the music was appealing.
Country music is sold to millions of listeners every year, in its original form without anyone complaining that it needs to be changed so it can reach its audience. Beethoven and Chyschovsky did not crossover with their compositions that are still big sellers to this day.
Why then are some artists going out of their way to change what was essentially theirs, to create something outside of themselves? Do you think that your talent is any less? Do you think that the music will sell any better? For the reggae artists rushing to get on the crossover bandwagon, I ask you, why? When your music flop because you have lost your base, the big company will drop you. They don’t care about you or the music; they are just looking a buck. They will be the first to tell you that reggae music can only be sold if the beat is different. I disagree. What they need to tell you is that your messages need to be universal. If someone in China or Nigeria can relate to what you are saying, then they will buy your music. Bob Marley’s "Could You be Love" was an attempt to reach a wider market, but he discovered that he was losing himself at the expense at trying to please others. He went back to himself, producing music that was true to his belief system, not caring if everyone accepted it. To this day, Bob Marley is one of the top sellers throughout the world. People in every part of the world can identify with his music.
Many artists have the misconception that the United States is the world and, people in America are the only listeners of music. Many of these artists are surprised when they travel and find that there is a whole world out there listening to their music in its original form. They are surprised to find that their music is on the top charts, without any alteration to the sound. In the sixties, Millie Small hit the British charts with a Ska song entitled, "My Boy Lollipop." Shaggy’s "It Wasn’t Me," is an example, for this decade. Currently, Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder and Elephant Man are discovering that they don't have to change a thing about their musical form to find an audience outside of Jamaica.
The Rolling Stones can have a twenty-five year reunion, singing the same songs, in the same way, as they did when they got started, and still sell out a venue. Ask Steel Pulse why they lost a large part of their listening audience. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Crossover is nothing more that crossing yourself off the sound good chart, because you have no confidence in yourself as an artist. You do not have the ability to sell your product, without first selling yourself short.
Mi deh yah now!
MORECULTURE.COM COPYRIGHT 2003 J. MCFARQUHAR
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