*Black music, as with any vehicle in the Black community, has reached people who do not necessarily fit the mold these vehicles serve.
In the past, other groups who decided to become actively involved were immediately shooed away because of their distinct characteristics – like their skin color.
White people singing Black music, in particular hip-hop and R&B music, are no different.
So the notion that music is colorblind is false?
Arika Kane, a white, but really soulful sounding singer, made headlines recently when speculations from her fans suggested that Kane’s new single “Here with Me” (scroll down to HEAR it) was banned from Sirius XM Radio’s Heart & Soul station because she was white.
While there has been no official response to these allegations from the heads of Sirius XM, according to other press, Sirius radio director BJ Stone said he personally wouldn’t play an Erika Kane record because he believes a white artist should not be singing an urban song. Again, Stone did not respond to our request for a response.
Now, immediately the notion that race is close to a nonfactor in what’s played on the radio, as other radio DJs and music directors have commented, points to artists like Eminem who has a hip-hop station on Sirius XM and Robin Thicke who gets played on almost every Black/urban radio station.
“It speaks volumes when an artist like Robin Thicke gets as much airtime as he does,” Myronda Dexter, an on air personality from Atlanta’s adult urban radio station Majic 97.5/107.5 FM, said. “To me the reason why the music is played is because the music is good, it does well on the charts, people love to hear it and it sells albums.”
But what about Arika Kane, an independent artist from Connecticut? Her song that isn’t receiving airplay is on the charts – it’s sitting 77th on Billboard’s Hot Hip-Hop/R&B chart and 14th on Mediabase’s Urban Adult Contemporary chart.
Kane, who has felt the barrier of being a white woman singing R&B music, is well aware of how long music has come when it comes to race.
“If that (being banned from Sirius) is the case, I’m used to it, I guess there are still certain barriers that we have to break,” she said. “It shouldn’t matter, music is music, soul is soul.”
However, she certainly feels a definite double standard in the music industry as an independent artist.
“As an independent label, we gotta work twice as hard to get somebody’s attention or be taken seriously,” Kane said. “When I heard the news I was definitely sad and disappointed because Heart & Soul is my favorite XM station, but we’re not gonna bring our tails in because we’re fighters.”
Dexter, who feels talent from all races make good urban music, also feels that “as long as the record is good, and fit a station’s format, will receive a good amount of airplay.”
Does Arika Kane not fit the format that Maronda Dexter speaks about on Sirius XM radio, who said she even cannot recall hearing a Kane record on her own station Majic?
Although Arika Kane has good numbers on the charts, aside from a non major deal, her race appears to be a huge factor in her airplay on Sirius XM radio. The idea that “music is music” remains in question in so many ways when it comes to the radio world, even if the factor is as simple as “a white artist shouldn’t be singing urban music.”