R&B Isn’t Dead, But It’s Comatose

dara t. mathis

Watching Good Morning America last week, I saw will.i.am and Kelly Clarkson announce the American Music Award nominees for 2013. I should not have been surprised when head shots of Miguel, Robin Thicke, and Justin Timberlake popped up on the screen. But I was, and I tried to shrug the unnameable disappointment off.

R&B/soul is my favorite genre of music. I pride myself in knowing the most obscure of forgotten groups from the 90s (Blaque, anyone?) There are whole swaths of hip-hop albums I’m ignorant of (for several reasons) mainly because I was knee-deep in Sade, Troop, Tony Terry, Peabo Bryson, Jade, En Vogue, and other talented R&B artists. Their music flooded my ears and provided the soundtrack for my formative years.

I’ll just be frank. The racial landscape of R&B looked drastically different then. Occasionally, a white artist broke through like Robin Thicke and Remy Shand, building…

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