If We Can’t Perform the Music of Racists, Shit-Heads, and Degenerates, What’s Left to Perform?
By Professor Donald Nally, Northwestern Conducting and Ensembles
As some of you may know, a minor fracas occurred last week in one of my ensembles when a Masters student refused to sing an arrangement of a Walt Whitman poem, as his “independent research” had uncovered evidence that Walt Whitman was supposedly racist.
This student even went so far as to file a complaint with the NAACP when I refused to let him cherry-pick the repertoire pieces he wanted to sing for our next concert, and got a local news affiliate to sympathize with his “plight.”
Now, hey, I’m not denying that Walt Whitman may have been racist. It’s certainly plausible. But unless I ask you to sing a song about Blacks, Jews, and Asians deserving to get lynched because they’re sub-human cretins, I’m going to need you to shut the fuck up, grit your teeth, and let that magnificent bass voice of yours soar. Because you’d think a Masters student would have realized this by now, but most great artists are really shitty people.
Seriously, if you had a dollar for every truly great composer or lyricist whose work you performed, and who also happened to be a racist, anti-Semite, pedophile, wife-beater, drug addict, alcoholic, all-around asshole, or even a straight-up pimp (shout out to Jelly Roll Morton), you’d have more money in your pocket than you’ll ever make as a singer, especially if you spend your career as a reactionary, antagonistic twat.
So please, learn to separate the artist from the work, or else our next concert will be about 30 seconds long. If not, we’ll just have to do a full concert of Aaron Copland; he actually seemed like a halfway-decent dude. So let’s not read his biography.
Disclaimer: No, this was not actually written by Dr. Nally. Remember what website you’re on.