Profiles In Advocacy: Fantastic Negrito On Making Music's "Most Precious Sacred Doors & Avenues Liberated, Equitable & Attainable"
The Recording Academy has asked our members to reflect on their path of becoming an advocate for music and discuss the importance of using your voice to create change. This "Profile in Advocacy" is from Fantastic Negrito, who recently took home the 2021 GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Blues Album. In 2018, Fantastic Negrito joined the Recording Academy in Washington, D.C. as an artist activist during GRAMMYs on the Hill, which helped pave the way for the passage of the Music Modernization Act that year.
In this essay, the artist born Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz delves into his feelings on the power of music and the invisible forces that brought him to the Advocacy community.
How can we change the world through music? How can we, as artists, make our voice count? How can we help represent the people of the world that have no voice? These are the questions that I ask myself every time I begin the journey of creating an album. I do not consider my albums just music, but I consider them very important stories. I consider them social commentary.
I do believe that perhaps before the earliest human beings had the ability to communicate with words they communicated with sound. The sound of love, the sound of pain, the sound of happiness, the sound of discontent. What do the deepest caverns of sorrow sound like? What are the sounds and expressions that heal these wounds?
I am a child of this. I am a descendant of this. I am a result of this. Inspired melodies, beats, rhythm and rhymes transcend all boundaries in the world regardless of race, religion, gender or culture. This is our voice. I am a musician. This is our place in the global community. There is one language that connects all of humanity and that is music. I am a part of this. My weapon of choice is a pen, paper, voice, guitar and piano.
Artists throughout the span of human history have invoked change and impacted the societies they lived in. Through music, the creative community of musicians, street performers, writers and poets have stood at the podium and sang the words of the silenced. They've told the stories of the marginalized and disenfranchised. This is who and what I aspire to be.
I can tell you now that it was six years ago that I decided to start contributing to this great worthy cause. I had spent a lifetime wanting so much from a music career that it left me dry. Consequently, I gave up. I did the unthinkable, I quit. Then, through a series of life-changing events, I became inspired again.
With a newfound purpose, I started playing on the street corners to, and for, anyone that needed it. I did it for ordinary people. I decided to start contributing by song to those at the train stations. I began playing in-font of nightclubs, bars, slick hipster lounges that wouldn't let me in. I played every coffee shop, bakery or donut shop that would listen. This reconnection with people was my therapy; it was my redemption as a human being.
Seven years ago, that was my platform. Today, as a three-time GRAMMY winner, my platform is the world stage.
I owe this mostly to the people on the streets that supported myself and other street performers. There is nothing more important in this lifetime than the soundtrack that accompanies everyday life. I am here with you today using this extraordinary platform of music to speak to the people of the world. One day at a time, in the name of one world, one love, one voice of hope, possibility, and change, I strive to be this for you.
Please help keep these most precious sacred doors and avenues liberated, equitable and attainable for those that contribute to the human soundtrack: Musicians everywhere in the world.