A senior musician who happens to come from the same generation as my parents did a great deal to build a community of colleagues and associates dedicated to creating a body of work that could regarded as art music of people of African descent.
In his role as an academic, he organised conferences in prestigious institutions, where musicians and scholars could present performances and papers about this genre. So far, his contributions have been acknowledged mainly amongst practitioners who move in those circles, even though he deserved wide appreciation for his efforts.
The musical genre that he aimed to promote is still restricted in circulation to performers and audiences outside of the boundaries of academia. The fact that a creative musician chooses to express ideas in an eloquent way shouldn’t mean that his or her output should only be relevant to those who inhabit institutions of higher learning. At some point the community needs to ask itself some questions about what the genre is useful for.
Some members of the community might regard outreach work as tawdry or of little value, but those who want their creative outputs to live and breathe will understand the need for the music to find other spaces and outlets.
When the music reaches out to touch people who move in other circles, it is bound to be influenced by the contact that is made. This will mean that the ethos of the genre will have to be more flexible than it has been in the past.