Music Exchange: Drop the attitude

Music Exchange: Drop the attitude
By Martin Myers

By Martin Myers

I tend not to worry about myself so much these days, but rather about what the next generation of youth are learning and being taught. I have just returned from Windhoek – another two hour flight away from Cape Town – and, as I eluded last week Johannesburg being different, you should see Windhoek. An air of “man Yana” exists and the youth’s general knowledge is so below par it is scary.

Do we not realise that in Africa we are competing in a global village? It might be a naïve assumption to make, but putting pass rates at 40% as the norm in South Africa can only harm learners later on in life. These young adults in Windhoek I am talking about are no older than 23. Some did not even know how many States make up the USA, or who the British Prime Minister is.

The young artists we worked with at this show had such an air of entitlement it was scary. My one remark to the one band was, “How many Billboard Number One hits have you had?” I might as well have been speaking Greek.

How do we fix this? Has society created this mess in which the youth just want, want and want, without realising that to receive, you need to work hard to achieve it? I just stood, open mouthed, at the audacity on display of these kids. Now if this is a microcosm of what is going on, heaven help us!

Last week a friend remarked how great the singer songwriter Brian McKnight is. I chirped to him whether he knew that McKnight had never won a Grammy award, and the look on his face was one of total disbelief. His music is so good that you just assume he has won many. McKnight’s work has earned him 16 Grammy nominations, though he has never won – much like Ivan Lendl, who never won the big tennis match that counts; you know, that one on grass called Wimbledon… If only the youth realised how hard you have to work to achieve those accolades that are respected worldwide.

We have a gentleman coming to Cape Town in September who has won nine Grammys and has written lyrics for, amongst others, Mariah, Luther, Puff Daddy, Usher, Destiny’s Child, Mary J Blige and Toni Braxton. The 37-year-old music major continues to grow his field of influence, and he is coming to give back, educate and inspire at Music Exchange 2015 this September. Why? He can and wants to, that’s why.

Will the youth realise that people like Bryan Michael Cox can open doors for their music careers, or will the ‘know it all’ attitude kick in again? This gentleman’s frame of reference is the globe and the “I am a star in my own town” attitude does not carry weight. Our young, up-and-coming stars’ stage should be the whole world we live in, not just their hometown. If they drop the “I know it all” attitude the rewards are infinitely greater than you can ever imagine.