Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Is Country Music Too White? 

[Note: I've already posted this on the forums at the New York City Bartenders & Patrons page, where I am nominally the music editor. And I thought such a gig would land me bazillions in payola. Anyway, I am reposting it here with the permission of the author (me -- just trying to see if you're still paying attention). There have already been several thoughtful responses there, all, in fact, more sober-minded than the original piece which spurred them. Of course, we don't go to all these bars to leave sober-minded, but the discussion thus far shows that a lot of the folks who frequent these honky tonks have more between their ears than stale beer.]

Village Voice music critic Tom Breihan has tried to tackle the often taboo subject of what he still unscientifically calls "race" and its relation to what is undoubtedly a form of music predominantly performed by and popular with whites: country music.

On his Voice blog, in "Country Music Grapples With Race", Breihan writes, "Here's the thing: pop music, as it exists in 2005, is basically black music, and it has been for some time. Country music is enormously popular. But country music is hugely, overwhelmingly white enough that it becomes an obvious target for the people who don't buy it, almost a punchline in itself."

By the way, he also doesn't like African-American country rapper Cowboy Troy, who calls his style hick-hop, at all. When Troy was in New York in September for some free concerts to hype the CMA Awards, Breihan dissed him. He wrote Troy "has no idea what rappers do onstage," as if he should merely mimic existing rappers.

In any case, Breihan's piece is attracting some attention outside of those few who still read this ad-filled giveaway. The country music industry web site All About Country has reposted this piece, and is even running a poll on the questions it raises.

As someone who is both a country music enthusiast and one who also abhors any kind of racism, I'd be interested to read folks' comments on this before jumping into the fray.

I would add that even those this piece might be taken as incendiary by some people, more important are the issues which it raises rather than the Voice's tone. So while strongly stating your case, please try to avoid turning this into a name-calling contest. Thanks.

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