With the recent passing of Prince, there has been a lot of conversation about the word iconic. It seems pretty safe to say that the terms celebrity, rock-star, and even legendary weren’t profound enough to encompass Prince’s artistry. The title of “icon” is honestly the only moniker appropriate for a man of his genius talent. But with the deaths of Prince, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston, this commentary has been raging: “All of music’s greats are dying! We aren’t going to have any more icons left!” That’s a huge thought to swallow. Are we at the Armageddon of exceptional music versus monotonous digitally assembled productions? Will there ever be another icon?
I set out on a quest to see what people of various generations thought about what it means to be a musical icon. My even larger mission was to probe into the minds of music lovers to see if they believe that current generations can produce iconic figures that will surpass the test of time in the next 20 to 30 years.
A member of a late 90s-early 2000s male singing group, Delouie Avant, provided a grand definition of what it means to be iconic.
“To be legendary or iconic in ANYTHING, but specifically in music, means that you challenged the status quo to the point where before you the music sounded and looked one way. Then after your contribution, another layer of possibilities was added to the vocabulary,” he said.
Some may think that millennials believe that anything that is currently being produced is dope and there has never been anything better. However, NYC-based entertainment publicist, Regan Farley, who happens to be of the millennial set, doesn’t subscribe to this notion.
“I feel like icons are missing from the music industry today. The ability to create classic records is dead. What I hear is music only being made to represent for the moment, not music that will transcend decades,” she said.
The rebellious Generation X spoke on the matter as well. A fierce female voice that came of age during a time when Disco, R&B, and Pop ruled, and oh yes, the mighty Hip Hop was born, weighed in heavily on the state of musicianship today.
“The artists of today do not give the proper respect, nor pay homage to the artists who came before them. They believe they’ve created everything artistic. They are not the creators of it. They are very cocky! The artists of previous generations were self-assured, but they loved their craft and put in extreme amounts of work to be great. Artists of today are only in it for the fame, glory and the money. They don’t do it just for the pure love of it,” Louise Ryans expressed.
When it comes to examining the sound of music, age ain’t nothing but a number. A 69-year-old couple, Jean and Henry Coleman, who has always had their fingers on the pulse of music are more optimistic. They believe that a super-star may presently exist or is yet to be born; one who may rise to iconic stature in this here-today-gone-tomorrow landscape of music.
“We believe there will be several younger generations of musical icons. For as long as we’ve been living, there have always been greats from each generation. Most of these extraordinary individuals were born with supreme talent. They also had more access to training at an earlier age. But what’s good is that most of today’s legendary artists, including the icons, understand the importance of mentoring future artists,” the couple shared.
There it is. The music will never die, and a phenomenal artist will again rise. A star of the brightest kind isn’t born every day. They are more of a supernatural occurrence. Well on her way, or some may say she’s already arrived, is Beyonce. She is phenomenal on the mic, superior in her dance performances, a precise lens in her contribution to visual storytelling in the form of video, a powerful business woman and a philanthropist.
Chris Brown may be in the developmental stages of this exalted platform. He excels in giving us one-of-a-kind entertainment with his artistry and candor again and again. He is fearless and limitless in his musical abilities.
Do Bey and Breezy represent iconic measurements to you? Maybe, maybe not; only time will tell. Let’s us pray that we see another icon in our lifetimes.
Written By: Tawana C. Coleman, Entertainment Contributor