Event Title

“They Call Me Vanilla Child”: Deconstructing Authenticity and Race Relations in Popular Music

Presenter Information

Tony Moaton, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center A155

Start Date

10-2-2015 4:30 PM

End Date

10-2-2015 5:50 PM

Abstract

The purpose of this research project is to examine the relationships between racial essentialism and audience perception using the late R&B singer Teena Marie as a case study. As black culture has become part of general U.S. pop culture, tensions have risen between white artists ‘appropriating’ black culture and black audiences wary of the inauthenticity of the white artists. Through a qualitative analysis of music criticism, fan reviews, and several seminal albums of Teena Marie, a white artist who achieved success solely among black audiences, I will deconstruct the ways in which race and culture have been conflated. Through that deconstruction, I will analyze the effects of racial essentialism on audience perceptions of artists who perform music not considered ‘part of their culture’, and therefore how those perceptions have affected the legitimization of artists and the art they created based upon their race.

Notes

Session III, Panel 6 - ART: Sacred & Secular

Major

Performance Studies

Award

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF)

Project Mentor(s)

Justin Emeka, Theater; Africana Studies

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Oct 2nd, 4:30 PM Oct 2nd, 5:50 PM

“They Call Me Vanilla Child”: Deconstructing Authenticity and Race Relations in Popular Music

Science Center A155

The purpose of this research project is to examine the relationships between racial essentialism and audience perception using the late R&B singer Teena Marie as a case study. As black culture has become part of general U.S. pop culture, tensions have risen between white artists ‘appropriating’ black culture and black audiences wary of the inauthenticity of the white artists. Through a qualitative analysis of music criticism, fan reviews, and several seminal albums of Teena Marie, a white artist who achieved success solely among black audiences, I will deconstruct the ways in which race and culture have been conflated. Through that deconstruction, I will analyze the effects of racial essentialism on audience perceptions of artists who perform music not considered ‘part of their culture’, and therefore how those perceptions have affected the legitimization of artists and the art they created based upon their race.