Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

All Proportions Kept

Al Sharpton was saying yesterday that Michael Jackson was the first black entertainer to appeal to black and white audiences alike- and my immediate response was, well if that's true it's a big achievement.  But then I thought about it and I saw that in fact it wasn't true-  and then I put myself to sleep listing people who had made that leap across the race divide before him. It turned out to be a pretty long list.

Paul Robeson
Josephine Baker
Duke Ellington
Louis Armstrong
Ella Fitzgerald
Miles Davis
Marian Anderson
Sammy Davis Jnr
Harry Bellanfonte
Nat King Cole
Eartha Kitt
Diana Ross
Lionel Ritchie
Chuck Berry
Jimi Hendrix

Well, you get the picture. And I'm sure I could go on adding to it. 

Also yesterday I found myself watching a documentary about Felix Mendelssohn- and how he managed himself as a converted Jew in mid-19th century Germany, and how the Nazis tried to expunge his music and how his family- as people of "mixed race"- struggled to survive under the Third Reich. Felix Mendelssohn was also a child prodigy; he handled fame with grace- and died at 32 having written much great music, revived the reputation of J.S. Bach, founded the Leipzig Convervatory and a whole lot else. There' s achievement and then there's achievement- and Billie Jean may be a pretty good song, but it's not the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.

File:Mendelssohn Bartholdy 1821.jpg

Felix Mendelssohn, aged 12. 
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