Confession is good for the soul, so they say.
As you know from my last blog, I did not grow up like a home girl, thought Ganja was Ghandi’s wife and would have never dated someone with dreadlocks, whether they were black, white or yellow.
I grew up in a mostly white neighbourhood and although racism was rife, I thought it was the norm and didn’t let it affect me too much.
After all, if I was called names, the friends I would cower behind were the same colour as my taunters, so offence didn’t register. And besides, I often called kids names myself and couldn’t see the difference between ‘pig face’ and ‘coon.’
One boy used to say to me very sweetly, “Wogga matter? Nigger mind. Go to bed and you’ll be all white in the morning.”
He wasn’t really racist, just an attention-seeker, so when his mates collapsed in laughter at his jibes, it spurred him on to do it again.
My mum loved country music and although my parents were Christians, the only godly music I heard in the house was that of Mahalia Jackson. She would hide behind the record player for 11 months then emerge in December singing, “Oh commmme… all ye fayyyyyyyth…fuuuuuuuull.” And some weird song about Jerusalem.
So my black bones were not exposed to ethnic music either.
Therefore at eighteen, I was unsurprisingly, heavily into Amy Grant, Sandi Patti, Clay Crosse, Gary Chapman and Point Of Grace.
I was delighted to get a job working at one of the UK’s largest Christian bookshop chains and be made responsible for the music.
But what a shock I got! After the Gaithers, Black Gospel was the most popular, best selling genre of music.
Umm… how was I going to pull this one off?
Scores of brudders and sistas streamed into the shop and ignoring the Matt Redman and Spring Harvest section, they would make a beeline to where Kirk, Fred, Alvin, Hezekiah, Deitrick, Yolanda, Israel, two Marys and CeCe lived.
I’d try my hardest to put on an enthusiastic voice when asked what I recommended.
Deep down I had this pet hate of music moguls clumping all singers into Black Gospel just because they were negro. Ron Kenoly was an excellent worship leader and would have been better off living with his other Hosanna buddies, and Nicole Mullen had her own unique style,
but no, to the ‘experts’, being dark meant park with the creoles.
My colleagues and I were all selfish when it came to monolpoly of the music system. Theresa, of Anglican heritage, would put on Celtic band Iona, if she got to it first. Lesley would opt for the Katinas, or Third Day played at 1000 decibels. Our Manager grabbed Michelle Tumes and I always went for Hillsongs – so, not quite your ‘jammin in the house.’
As far as I know, only one guy sussed me out. One day when he had a particular penchant for interrogation, he suddenly looked me in the eye and said, “So what DO you like?”
“Er… I er… well… I er…like ‘Stomp’.” (He meant artist but I could only think of track)
‘Stomp’ was an old worn-out hit of Kirk Franklin’s that no up-to-date gospel-loving music seller would have dared mentioned if they wanted to appear ‘with it’. He narrowed his eyes at me and leaned an arm across the till area, coming very close to invading my personal space. My panicky eye caught the front page of Authentic Media’s magazine which was lying by the telephone.
I quickly continued, “Donnie Mcclurkin has got a great new album out and have you heard that duet with Lamar and Tramaine?”
“No…what are they like?” (eyes now so narrow he must have found it hard to see at this point)
I grabbed the headphones.
“Here. Why listen to me rambling on when you can hear it for yourself?”
Taking the bait, he moved out of my ‘space’ and wondered over to the listening post.
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