Despite releases from many black female artists this year like Jill Scott, Ciara, Macy Gray, Fantasia (December 2006) and more, black female artists are nearly nonexistent on the Billboard charts. This week there are no black female artists in the top 20 on the Billboard 200 album chart (Beyonce and Corrine Bailey Rae make the top 40) and there are no black women in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Just five years ago there were six black women in the top forty on the Billboard 200, two being in the top five (Ashanti and Lauryn Hill) and Ashanti had the number one single in the country (yeah, not that I'm an Ashanti fan but you get my point).
What is happening to black women in music? Before you say it's just a woman thing—this week, there are 13 white women on Billboard 200 album chart in the top 40 and six of them are in the top ten. It simply cannot be male domination on the charts.
Black women are being ignored in popular music. There is little to no marketing, which results in little to no airplay and equals no sales. For example, we are all eagerly awaiting Kelly Rowland's new album, which has been pushed back another week to July 3rd, but where is the promotion? I barely hear the first single on the radio and shouldn't a second single be released soon? Someone hypothesized to me that Rowland will never get the promotion she deserves because she is dark-skinned. However, if being a light-skinned black woman equals promotions (i.e., Rihanna, Beyonce, Alicia Keys) then what about Mya? Mya's album has been pushed back again and her promotion is about as visible as an R. Kelly trial.
Many white woman are jumping on the R&B band wagon (if you want to call it that) like Fergie, Nelly Furtado and Gwen Stefani (two formerly being rock artists). Years ago, the only white women who would sing an R&B song were Teena Marie and maybe Madonna. Now, the American public would rather hear R&B music from the skinner, paler, overproduced white counterpart. Are white female artists taking jobs away from black females, similar to models complaining actresses are snatching their jobs?
Who is really to blame? Is the black female voice no longer important in popular music? Surely, if R&B music still equaled VOICE then Nelly and Fergie would not have a chance in blonde-haired hell. But, R&B music equals overproduced rhythms and the person who is the most marketable to whisper in tune.
It is a crisis in the music industry when it seems there is no room for black female artists. Unfortunately, the days of Stephanie Mills, Patti Labelle and Phyllis Hyman are long gone. However, the days of Diana Ross and even Janet Jackson are many moons ago. R.I.P. black women in music...oh, there is still Beyonce......................................................
Labels: Beyonce, Billboard, Kelly Rowland, MYA, Race