Musicians of an older generation who lived through the golden age of the record business in London, used to tell me that it was very difficult to gain access to opportunities to get their music heard in the 1960s and ‘70s, mainly because of the insular and parochial mindsets of the gatekeepers and fellow musicians of the time. These artistes were Africans, of course and it is likely that they had different vocabularies and terms of reference to those of the “mainstream” scene.

There are exceptions that proved the rule. Most of those artistes who could be cited as examples of the open mindedness of the business could be described as folks who were willing and able to go to great lengths to assimilate into the mainstream culture. This is probably the same for non American artists who aim to make an impact in the USA.

How can one tell the difference between possibly being inspired by the creative expression of other cultures and the tendency of many artists to be distracted into taking on a way of doing things, because it is the prevailing fashion?

Why do we make art? What are all these symbols for? Some of us were born to be entertainers and out of those, some are lucky enough to be richly rewarded for their services. This is a separate area of activity from the business of making symbols that help us to understand the human condition.

At the heart of the matter, artists should be aiming to see the wood for the trees. Terms of reference, vocabularies and the trappings of “success” are not as important as being clear about what we have to say.