So… let’s get to the heart of the matter, the heart and the impetus for this post. Dave Hollister is doing exactly what he set out to do musically here on “Spend The Night” and his entire Chicago Winds… The Saga Continues project which is to present melodic, soulful, and compelling R&B that hearkens back to the prolific 1990’s where melody was still important to the music, stories were not all set in the club, and there was a level of skill that had to be attained before manning any of the boards or picking up a pen.

Fast forward to 2014 mainstream R&B is an arena where simplistic songs and arrangements are done by committee, everyone sounds like their music is made in an Atlanta trap music by numbers production house and Pat Boone is still riding high off of his original composition “Tutti Frutti” Oh whooo! Shut up! But that’s not exactly what I wanted to discuss today, not at all. No, it’s something a little different that’s on my mind.

You see… well you see, ok if you look above these words to the video thumbnail there’s a posterior that’s precisely positioned for production purposes, I guess. Nope not a prude here. Posteriors are great, but I wanted to take issue with a few things that surround what’s seen and not heard and whereas I might not necessarily have any answers perhaps some of the points and/or questions that I raise might move the discussion along further.

1. This is a video. A video. I know we know this, not because I said it but because we can see that it is just that. A video is often the vision of the director or a collaboration of the vision of both artist and director, but it is a vision nonetheless, a visual representation of the song. It is not the song. Here’s a problem that we have in 2014 and it’s not surprising that 34 years after “Video Killed The Radio Star” we are still having this problem… we hear music, we don’t see it. Yeah I know surprise, surprise. But even in the production of music there’s so much emphasis on what something looks like(what does that waveform look like?)that we are missing out on the essence of music which is that it is to be heard. Sure a little video vignette can help things along from time to time, but sans vignette you still have all the meat you need for your meal. Close your eyes.

2. Affirm yourself. Write, direct and star in your own vignette. In the early 1980’s it was cost prohibitive to produce a music video not only for us regular citizens but also for numerous artists. Nowadays? With a few hacks on your smartphone, tablet or DSLR camera you can be right in there with most of what’s happening. Point being is this… I understand the need to have images that affirm one’s self, however this is not 1976 when there was only three broadcast networks, a small and fading movie studio system and cable television in it’s infancy. In this era you can be all of the aforementioned with your headquarters located in your kitchen. How this relates to the topic at hand is this: if you don’t like the images represented in the video you have several options – Close your eyes and I don’t mean that in a smart ass way, I mean it in a way that music is auditory and can be thoroughly enjoyed without visual aid. If you do need a visual representation and you don’t like the ones represented here, make your own to make your point. I’m not saying the video is problematic or it isn’t problematic because of the lack of melanin that the female lead possesses, what I’m saying is if that’s an issue for you then you have tools available to you to combat that(if your perceive that as an intentional slight)by creating your own video response and casting whomever you like of whatever hue. You have the power within and around you, we’re all beautiful so if the programmed screen doesn’t represent you put the song on and look in the mirror(and maybe hold a brush and sing a little like we used to…)

3. We having a say around here at HQ that we borrowed from the sports world which is “You Make the Call!” however you respond to any of this stimuli is totally up to you but I think it’s past time for the rhetoric (and look at me and what I’m doing, sue me) of the comments section, Twitter feed, Facebook wall and yes even this and other blogs. Call someone out on something? Sure. We have every right as we do not live lives free a criticism. But rhetoric and criticism are passive. Honestly they produce nothing except usually more rhetoric and criticism. So, what am I suggesting? Time for some action…

Love yourself and once you’ve got that straight you won’t need any affirmation for your self-beauty and self-worth from a video and perhaps you will then move to a place(not a literal place) fueled by love where you find yourself in concert with someone who loves their self enough that upon mutual admiration you two could perhaps spend the night together for the rest of your lives. I think the easiest way to get there is to close your eyes while your listening to not only great music like “Spend The Night” but any great music you can get your hands on and imagine you and yours as the leads in your own sonic play. Because when it’s all said and done that’s all that matters in the end: not who you see, not who sees you, but how you see yourself.

Post Script – After chopping it up a tad here at HQ I must add that I did not intend to suggest in anyway that the onus is totally on the viewer to fight and change what has been a longstanding and extremely sensitive subject as it relates to women of color especially women of a darker hue to find images presented that affirm themselves. I was speaking out of the assumption that many of us join you in affirming your beautiful selves and that in this day and age by ignoring works that continue the painful party line of casting only a certain look it would be at once emancipating and empowering. I acknowledge that we’re not there yet, still too close, still too painful because the proposition is to combat centuries of conditioning. Soon come, soon come.

Further I would be remiss if I did not mention that part of my impetus for the closing of eyes on this particular video is that quite honestly it does zero justice to the song… like none. When I hear a beautiful piece of music like this, I think what an amazing concept that would be for someone’s reality. When I view the video I’m questioning is that really the reality of some of the players featured? It seems somewhat ironic that the art of the song would be something desirable to strive for in one’s life, only to be cheapened by the somewhat salacious and sensationalized play of the video.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.