Author: Paul Garon
“Phil Rubio’s article “Crossover Dreams….” (Race Traitor No. 2, Summer 1993) provides an interesting perspective on the confrontation between white performers and black art forms. In many cases, he writes, white musicians are motivated by admiration and envy for the black performers they emulate. And he continues, we are seeing the “use of African-American
culture by whites to find the spirit, and hence the humanity, they feel they’ve lost.” But I would like to emphasize a totally different perspective. I will argue that for those interested in the support and study of African-American culture, blues as purveyed by whites appears unauthentic and deeply impoverished; further, it too often represents an appropriation of
black culture of a type sadly familiar. Finally, it can be economically crippling to black artists through loss of jobs and critical attention.
Whites have been playing black music for decades, and the tail-end of a constant source of friction–and interchange–should not be seen as the beginning. But the phenomenon of whites taking up the blues in great numbers is a fairly modern spectacle, indeed, one that finds its beginnings in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. We make no attempt to locate the
first white blues imitator, or performer, but one of the first objections to this phenomenon was raised by Charles Radcliffe (writing as Ben Covington) in the UK publication”
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