When I was younger, I used to love getting Ebony and Jet magazines. They allowed me to know some of the things that were happening in the Black and minority communities. I also used to listen to “Jazz” music that would often be featured on the Black (R&B) Stations. Tunes like “This Masquerade” by George Benson or “Friends and Strangers” by Ronnie Laws were great songs that would often get played on R&B stations, even when they couldn’t get played on others. Also, Black radio would inform me a lot about activity going on in my community locally. It is very difficult to recognize Black radio now. Now it seems like a lot of the on air personalities are “syndicated” (one person broadcasts to all the communities across the country) and they only deal with national issues… nothing local. You used to be able to call in and request a song. The on air personalities that I still associate with said that people know they could no longer get requests, so they just “stopped calling.” Where are all these things now? It appears as though all these things are slowly “being removed” from us. What has happened to the Black Market? Jazz music has now become “smooth jazz” and if you are one of those cities who “still” has a smooth jazz radio station you will often hear artists that were never considered jazz at all during their heyday. Artists like Simply Red, Marvin Gaye and even Luther VanDross have had the labels “altered” and their genres changed. There used to be a lot of groups (bands) such as the SOS band, The Mass Production band, The Dazz band, Confunction, Rolls Royce, and the Brass Construction band that dominated the airwaves, but now you rarely hear of “any” bands playing Black music or even “sounding Black.” If it were not for Black radio, who would have ever heard of Evelyn Champagne King? What has happened to our sound and our heritage? It feels as though someone is attempting to wipe our memories and our history out of our minds “gradually.” I think they are hoping that none of us will notice. Of course the most simple answer to this would be “money.” Obviously it must not have been that profitable to advertise in the Black market. I once thought that programs like Soul Train would run forever. Not only has the program gone, but nothing else has come along to take it’s place. They promoted Afro Sheen Conditioners and Blow Out kits. All gone now. Your history should be important to you. If you cannot recognize that your history is slowly becoming “extinct” then you are in for a great “brainwashing.” Change is inevitable. Just because social media like radio and television alter their programs doesn’t mean that you have to change your own identity to fit their wishes. We need to see what is happening, and we need to unite to make sure our identities remain intact. If you get the chance, just take a listen to your station, and then compare it with how it used to be. Then you can come up with your “own” assessment. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Gerald Levert in concert with Brett Jolly on bass guitar