Monday, September 28, 2009

Concert Report 1 - Priscilla Quaye

Priscilla Quaye

Concert Report 1

Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives the description of a concert as “a public performance (as of music or dancing)” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). However, a concert is not simply a concert; there are many surrounding social issues connected to the music and performer that makes the attendee’s experience more than simply just watching a performer display his or her craft. When a concert is meticulously analyzed, the several underlying issues connecting with music and society are exemplified. This concept held true when viewing and further analyzing the “Fall Extravaganza of the Arts” presented by the Black Student Alliance (BSA) on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. The relation and connection of the ideas of authenticity and gender roles to the performances within the “Fall Extravaganza” were illuminated after further analyzing the audience, the atmosphere, and the individuals within each group of performers.

The “Fall Extravaganza” was presented by a student organization designed to stimulate cultural and educational awareness among the black student body at UVA and establish a better union among other groups in the community. Most of the students that attend BSA events are black students; the concert did not deviate from this normality. The majority of the audience was black (an estimate of around 80%) and the minority of the audience included whites, Asians, and very few other races. The “Extravaganza” was held in the Student Activities Building, about the size of a small auditorium; a stage was brought in. There was a total of eight different performing groups including singing groups, dancers, steppers, improvisation groups, and more.

One of the performance groups that the audience seemed excited to view was Remix; they are advertized as a hip-hop a capella singing group. The group consisted of 3 men and 5 women. The most noticeable aspect about Remix is that the group contained a white male; he was the only white performer within the all black group. Remix’s performance consisted of a medley of current and old hip-hop/pop songs. The performance reached a rap segment during which the white, male member was chosen to perform this solo. Immediately, there were hushed whispers and slight snickering and chuckling noticeably heard around the room. When deliberately scanning the room to study people’s faces, actual looks of doubt and small smirks were observed. All these distractions brought on by the audience in the end took away from the performer’s solo rap performance. When investigating the cause of the audience’s behavior, the theme of authenticity is the theme that I believe relates to the situation. I believe the audience’s laughter and doubt arose from the fact that they did not believe the rapper’s performance was “authentic” enough. The term authentic has an ambiguous meaning and can be different for each person that comes across the term. The way in which it will be used here is to address the question of whether the performer’s act is thought of as being “believable” and “convincing” by the audience. Considering the audience’s reactions, facial expressions of doubt, and audible whispers, they did not view the white male performer rapping as authentic. However, if any of the other black males in Remix had pursued the rap solo, the doubt of authenticity would most likely have not existed; in fact, the audience may have even enjoyed the performance. Another fact to consider is if the solo performer was a woman; she may have received the same stigmatized reactions the white male received. The ever-present existing stereotypes that exist between race, gender, and music and the fact that different races and genders do not always get treated equally can be assumed the cause of the phenomenon observed at the “Extravaganza.”

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