Enjoying Major Success Without Crediting Black Artists Is A Big No

Ray Charles
Brooke Brown
April 15, 2020

Recently, a 1999 Ray Charles interview made its rounds on the internet. When reporter Bob Costas implied that Elvis Presley was an exceptional talent, Charles held nothing back…. 

"I know too many artists that are far greater than Elvis,” he bluntly responded. “I think he came around at the right time … the girls could swoon over him. Nat [King] Cole got in trouble in Alabama when girls swooned over him.”

Not only was Charles unimpressed with the mediocrity and double standards involved to propel white acts into music stardom, but he had even more to say about Elvis’ wrongdoing with truth bomb number two!

“He was doing the Willie Mae Thornton jailhouse rock. That’s Black music!” Charles continued referring to the Black woman whose original 1953 “Hound Dog” record hit #1 and stayed there for seven weeks, three years before Presley’s debut.

Just like with Thronton, robbing Black artists of proper credit and compensation for white artists success happens all the time.

Whether it’s our music, hairstyles, slang, or viral dance sensations, it’s clear that popular culture has and continues to thrive off of plagiarizing, culturally appropriating, and discounting Black art. 

But just because it happens frequently doesn’t mean we should keep quiet about it! Say it loud and fearlessly just like Ray Charles did: “That’s Black music!”

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