Should We Separate The Artist from the Music?

January 25, 2020


Should we separate the individual artist from their artwork? That is the question of the day. But before I get into my opinion on this issue, let me ask you the same question in the form of a story. You walk into an art museum. You look around and notice the beautiful architecture, artworks and other people enjoying their Saturday evening. You notice a painting near the back of the museum that immediately catches your eye. You fall in love with it and cannot take your eyes off it. But when you look up the artist, you notice that they are currently in jail for criminal offenses. Do you stop looking at the art and walk out of the museum. Call it trash and regret ever seeing it in the first place? No, you can't help how you felt when that artwork first caught your attention. It is beautiful. Is it not? You ignore the artist and focus on the artwork. Now the question is whether or not that is the right thing to do.

One day I was hanging out with my friends in my dorm room and I had a playlist playing on my laptop. The next song on the playlist was R. Kelly's "Ignition" (my jam). But when the song came on, my friend were disgusted at the thought of listening to one of Kelly's songs because of his recent criminal charges. It made me wonder, should we stop listening to certain songs because the singer did something wrong? I mean there are countless songs we listen to that are written by people whose daily lives and activities we know nothing about. So how can we judge them and their music?  What about when Michael Jackson was charged with child molestation, did everyone immediately stop listening to his songs. Nope. "Thriller" remained and still remains the annual Halloween song. "Man in the Mirror" is recognized everywhere. "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" is a classic love ballad that will never die out. Did people separate Mike from his music? Not really.

So I have come to the conclusion that regardless of the artist, songwriter or producer's personal actions and thoughts, music is music. Music is meant to connect with us at different aspects of our life - the good and the bad. Music is there for us when we are up to lift us even higher and when we are down, to heal our emotions. We cannot stop listening to songs that mean much to us because of someone else's actions. Nevertheless, if separating the artist from the music is the one way for you to appreciate the music and keep the sound alive, it's your choice to do it. 

“Without music, life would be a mistake”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche.