Recently, we sat down with author, professor and musician, Dr. Scot Brown to talk about his some of his current projects and his start in music. Check out the full interview below and tel us what you think:
How was music impact your upbringing?
I grew in up in Rochester, NY. That’s a city with a vibrant music scene which was a big part of my childhood and teenage years. There were a lot of phenomenal older musicians there who took the time to teach me how to play bass. During my high school years, I was in a band called, “Radiance.” I was probably the least talented in the band. I had no rhythm or timing! I played patterns from my memory. Other people in the group had to tell me when I was out of tune! Since they were such excellent musicians, I learned how to hold my own. We were a young band and played local nightclubs, festivals, and area colleges.
How did you begin to make it a career?
I left the band and decided to go to college – The University of Rochester. After leaving, I discovered that there was a symmetry or overlap between having the discipline to play seriously in a band and studying as a student. I got a BA in history and went on to get a master’s in Africana Studies. Following my Bachelors, I received my Ph.D. in History. My first book, Fighting for Us explored the history of the Us Organization — the Black Power group that founded the Kwanzaa holiday. Grammy-Award winning musician, songwriter, producer, James Mtume, was one of the members of Us that I interviewed for the book. He inspired me to continue songwriting and releasing music alongside writing articles and books about music.
Tell us about your previous projects?
I’ve written a number of articles on music history, funk and cultural movements and frequently appeared as music historian on television programs, radio shows and films such as; National Public Radio, Sirius/XM, BET/Centric, TV One and more.
What common fact about Black music history do people usually get wrong?
To paraphrase Dick Griffey — the founder of the Sound of Los Angeles Records (SOLAR) — Black music is a resource, just as oil and diamonds are to the African continent. Unfortunately, the Black communities and artists that create this resource are among the most marginalized in receiving wealth generated by the art they create. There are so many untold stories in the vast history of Black music. One theme that we should underscore, is that music is the product of communities not just individuals. American culture tends to emphasize individual genius—which is one part of the story not all of it.
Based on music’s history and the current events taking place, how do you foresee the future of music?
Music is a powerful lifeline for humanity, especially in the midst of these turbulent times. it consists of all stylistic varieties can help to shed light on conditions obscured by ignorance and willful neglect. Music also helps to design visions for a better world and how we can relate to one another in it–what Steve Wonder called “Innervisions.” As conditions become more unstable, music will play an elevated role in providing inspiration and opportunities to come together. Look at the positive power of online “verzus” events. They bring together millions of people in the midst of a global pandemic —only music could pull that off.
For more on Dr. Scot Brown and to listen to his new song, please click here.