Friday, February 17, 2006

Can a White Guy Sing Soul?

Not to be racialist about it but you be the judge?


PatChilla said...

For Ali G. I'd have to admit to never seeing an episode of his, but from what I've gathered from the promos is that he's mildly funny, but mostly obnoxious. Kinda like a bad joke gone really sour like Ted Danson's appearance in "blackface" at a Friars Club roast. However, I'm sure some people are doubled over from gut busting laughter when he's doing his thing.

As for the soul for the white guy, the simple answer is yes. The harder question is, what is soul? Are you asking can a white guy sound like certain black singers from the days of old? Of course, but those that do it really well are a special breed on both sides of the color line. There's always going to be differences because of culture and ethnic fingerprints. Ultimately, anyone can have true soul, its just that it may not fit into the genre of soul music as we know it. When I first heard Robert Plant as a kid I could really feel his voice penetrate to the core just like Issac Hayes or Eddie Levert, just in a different way.

I know for sure though, that it ain't Sam Harris singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow on Star Search!!!!

Oh yeah, I can't forget about Anastacia who has a couple of blah and cheesy albums, but has a voice that is out of this world. When I first heard her on MTV's "The Cut" I assumed she would be the next big thing. She is definitely a soul singer from a technical standpoint. She has that natural resonance in her voice ala Aretha Franklin that so very few have. Kinda like the distortion on high end analog EQ's - they have that little extra something that puts them on a higher level than even the good ones.

fourstones said...

alig is a character based on a white suburban man who lives with his mom and pretends to be black. I guess I was making a stupid tie between that and the 'blue eye soul' guys referenced in the funky16 blog entry. (more on alig below)

I don't know about you but the first time I heard Winwood belt "I'm a man, yes I am..." I was NOT picturing a 16 year old white suburban British kid so that answers my actual question.

If we're going to talk about this for real, I guess there no getting around the question of "cultural appropriation" which I'm pretty conflicted about, having grown up TOTALLY surround by soul, R&B and funk -- seems like sometimes appropriation is ok, expected, respected, lauded and other times it touches the third rail of Amercian race relations and people get really (often justifiably) upset. (e.g. I can never remember what side of things Crouch is on.)

re alig: I'm not sure the Danson analogy is the right one. If anything he's an extreme case of what Brown/AliG is saterizing but I've never been able to quite figure out what he was trying to do there. Sasha Brown (AliG) is making very strong points about cultural sensitity by taking the LONG way around but when he gets there it's powerful, if squirm inducing stuff. But hey I'm not his publicist. ftr, his other character is a buffoony sheep humping eastern european that only by a fluke of cosmic fate (and my parent's nearly fatal emmigraion to America) isn't me.