By Anderton |
And the love of music gets all the credit
by Craig Anderton
People often talk in an abstract way about music crossing boundaries. But it’s a real phenomenon…as re-confirmed late on a Friday night in Houston.
Three ladies were checking into a hotel where I was staying after a flight to Nashville had been canceled. I had come to the lobby to buy a late-night snack, and waited behind them as they went through some complicated maneuvers involving transferring from another hotel and using points. They were also asking about whether there were any dance clubs in the area, and I noticed that one of the ladies had “Soca Animal” on her cell phone.
It was taking a long time, but I wasn’t in a hurry. Then one of them noticed I was standing there and said to the night clerk “I’m sorry, you can take care of this guy, he just wants to buy a bag of chips.” I replied, “Hey, take your time. Anyone into soca and dance clubs is okay with me.” That elicited a few chuckles, but then the lady with the cell phone said, “You know about soca?” with a look that could only be described as amazement. I said that yes, I love soca, and I’m also a big fan of zouk (another strain of dance-oriented Caribbean music). We talked for a while, and I mentioned my intro to the genre was the band Kassav. Well, the amazement turned to shock—she played her favorite Kassav tune on her cell phone (
Upon hearing that, she blurted out, “I can’t believe I’m talking with a white person about soca!” which frankly, cracked me up. One of the other women was horrified I would interpret that as a racist comment, but I knew it wasn’t said in a racist way at all. We talked about Caribbean music some more, had some good laughs, and I gave them a list of some of my favorite Caribbean internet radio stations.
What had started out as three black women and one white guy in a hotel lobby morphed effortlessly into four music fans.
As I turned to go back to my room, the oldest of the three said, “I respect the Diety within you.” Now, I’m not really into organized religion, but I appreciated what she meant. For quite a while, we had bonded over music and enjoyed common ground that was far more relevant than skin color. Racism isn’t only about conflict: it’s about an artificial boundary that keeps people apart who shouldn’t be apart.
That night, music poked some holes in that boundary.
Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.