Music Exchange: So-called “masters” vs. the real deal

Music Exchange: So-called “masters” vs. the real deal
By Martin Myers

By Martin Myers

The reaction to last week’s piece, entitled ‘Drop the Attitude’, was astounding. Someone even remarked with the choice comment, “About time someone said what you said.”

It is vital that to grow, as a person, one sometimes needs to listen more rather than speak for the sake of speaking, which brings me to the question of the over-traded term “master class”. It’s a term defined in the Cambridge (online) dictionary as “a class taught by someone who has an expert knowledge, or skill in a particular area”. The term is used nowadays for anyone and everyone giving music talks, and that’s simple crazy.

I would go as far as saying that the definition should include the person being recognized, worldwide, as an expert in his field. Names that come to mind are: Johnny Clegg, Ray Phiri, Trevor Jones, Tony Cedras, David Kramer, Abdullah Ibrahim and Pops Mohamed.

‘Idols’ recently held a “master class” for the top 100 kids at Sun City. No disrespect to Graeme Watkins, but what has he done to warrant the term associated with giving a master class? Just like players don’t get to pick themselves to play in a team, nor should artists give themselves these titles.

The blame should lie with the producers – who really should know better! Also, the celebrity with that “I am famous, look at me now” syndrome. No; you are not! Just because you are on TV, or have a voice for radio does not make you any different to the man on the street, and you should behave accordingly and not think that you are something special. The only people that should be allowed to confirm your feeling are your fans – period!

People fawning about celebs is just crazy. My late dad ‘Bullet’ Myers, who matriculated at S.A.C.S at the age of 11, was a qualified attorney at age 16, and medical doctor at 21, always told me what defines you is your ability to have a hunger for knowledge. Don’t worry about the spotlight. It can go off quicker than it came on, and sometimes it never appears again.

The true giants work under the radar, without the glare and intrusion of the celeb or publicity tag and they go about constructing great work and then let the work speak for itself. Sometimes, often years later, do you see the true depth of their accomplishments.

The frame of reference is also important, given that we are a global village. To go back to the TV show ‘Idols’, well, the judges are frankly mediocre, and this leads to the show being merely that – a TV show – and not a platform to create stars.

How many hit songs have Randall, Gareth and Unhati written or produced? None! We now have Somzei, a dancer and choreographer, telling people about voices and singing. He makes for fantastic TV, but it’s not good enough to compete on the global stage.

Why did the American and British shows work so well? The judges can give master classes and have something to say. Why? They’re qualified in years and have firsthand experience that most graduates are impatient to absorb and reinterpret to the greater good of all.