Resurfaced Interview Of Ray Charles Calling Out Elvis Presley As A Culture Vulture Proves Ain't S**t Changed
Elvis Presley wasn't the first to appropriate Black culture, and times have shown that he damn sure won't be the last.
March 12, 2020 at 5:32 pm
A newly resurfaced interview of Ray Charles is a reminder that white people have always been appropriating Black culture. In the interview reshared to Twitter on Tuesday, Charles lays down the law on white entertainers being recognized as trailblazers for mimicking the styles and sounds of Black artists.
Ray Charles put Elvis Presley in his place... I love Black people haha ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/cAhGmWsKHF— LJ (@fortunatelyljm) March 10, 2020
In the 1950s, Black artists found themselves overshadowed by white entertainers who often robbed them of their creativity by covering their songs with little to no credit. Elvis Presley, whose fans refer to him as the king of rock and roll, was one of the many artists guilty of doing such, and Charles was not afraid to use his third eye to speak nothing but the truth.
"He was doing the Willie Mae Thornton jailhouse rock. That's Black music," Charles said in the interview. "What am I suppose to get excited about? Don't ask me no more questions about Elvis."
"I know too many artists that are far greater than Elvis. I think he came around at the right time and here is a white kid that could do rock and roll and the girls could swoon over him," he added. "He was doing our kind of music."
Widely known Black jazz artist Thornton, mostly known as Big Mama Thornton, released her original song "Hound Dog" in 1953 which became vastly popular, according to History. The song shot to the top of the charts, sitting at the #1 spot for seven weeks.
As racial tensions and sexism peaked, years later in 1956, Presley began to receive praise for covering the Alabama native's hit. The song went on to bring Presley's estate much success and profit, which Thornton's estate has seen very little of.
Even in an article published by AL.com referencing Thornton finally receiving the posthumous honor of being inducted in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, the publication describes Presley's unparalleled version as "definitive."
Although many have worked to hide Thornton's legacy, in 2019 a video of her belting out the original tunes of "Hound Dog," as it should have been remembered around the world, began to circulate on Twitter, according to Scroll.in.
Elvis stole this song and never gave credit but Big Mama Thornton killed it so hard the truth was bound to be told a century later.— disco ric (@RicWilson) December 11, 2019
She was born on this day may she rest in peace.
Still to this day, many artists and entertainers continue to appropriate Black culture without proper credit, leaving people to wonder when this sh*t will ever end.
Most recently, 14-year-old Jalaiah Harmon was robbed of her spotlight after another teen Tik-Tok influencer remade the Atlanta native's original dance, the Renegade, without giving credit. Harmon, who often posts videos of her creating dance routines on Instagram, said she felt cheated when she saw her dance going viral but being attributed to someone else.
“I think I could have gotten money for it, promos for it, I could have gotten famous off it, get noticed. I don’t think any of that stuff has happened for me because no one knows I made the dance,” Harmon told The New York Times.
In the music industry, Iggy Azalea was slammed after an interview in 2019 for turning a blind cheek to claims of her mimicking Black culture in her fashion and music, as Blavity previously reported. When asked if she would reconsider her style of rap, she gave an unapologetic answer.
"I’m still going to make the same type of music and still be ridiculous and larger than life,” Azalea said.
When pushed on the same topic in 2013, Azalea took a bold route with her answer, encouraging others to be culture vultures.
“If you’re mad about it and you’re a Black person, then start a rap career and give it a go too. Or maybe if you’re Black, start singing like a country singer and be a white person. I don’t know. Why is it such a big deal?" she said.
Other artists, including Eminem and Justin Timberlake, have been criticized for attempting to force their way into the cookout, too.
Aside from the music, however, white people in various careers continue to find themselves drowning in desperation to be Black.
Makeup artists and beauty influencers have started to contour their faces using darker shades of foundation and overline their lips to appear darker with prominent Black facial features.
In 2017, a makeup artist posted a picture of herself on Instagram posing with a full face of makeup noticeably much darker than her skin tone. Although the artist denied attempts of portraying blackface, it was clear she was trying her best hand at all things blackface.
In a similar incident at the beginning of the year, in an Instagram post that has since been removed, a makeup artist thought it was flattering to cover herself in dark makeup while mimicking the 2010 remake of Michael Jackson's song "We Are The World."
"This is the most offensive thing I’ve seen. You can portray togetherness without disrespecting an entire culture. So uneducated, this is beyond unnecessary and unacceptable," one person wrote.
History often repeats itself, but it appears white people's desire to be Black and avoid giving Black creators their credit has always been a thing, even at the cost of being called out and shamed.