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What does it mean to be a RELEVANT artist?

Critics use relevance as a metric of social importance. I define relevance as a work that is somehow connected to the current moment. A reflection that helps us all expand our understanding of the current landscape. I write philosophical and observational music, so there is always a connection in my art to the time that I am living, the things that I see, and the spaces that I live in. The observational nature of my work is literally connected to its own time, the way an observational comic riffs on what they see and experience in the world and is "of the current moment." Time and civilization are a continuum. History reveals cycles in humanity, politics, nature, and pretty much everything. Concepts cycle back on themselves, history repeats, and relevance reoccurs. Old becomes new as connections to past events are made in present moments. When something reemerges relevant again it reminds us of this cyclical nature.

An example from my work is my single "Oh My My," which I penned in 2005 during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I released it however in the summer of 2020 at the height of the Covid 19 pandemic. Both times this song had relevance to what was happening around us through my lens. This is how I felt during these times. If I didn't tell you that I wrote it during the events following Katrina, one might assume that I wrote it during the 2020 Pandemic. This is relevant. This piece matched the spirit or thoughts of the moment. Relevance is about relationships. Is a piece of art related to something current? if so it is relevant to that thing or topic.

Fantastic works that deal with metaphors of current events or social commentaries can also be relevant. Realism is not the hallmark of relevance, authentic connection is. George Orwell's 1984 is a fictional work set in a dystopian world, but it is grounded in an authentic observation of dwindling privacy. It is a cautionary tale in our world of dwindling privacy, and as time goes on, this work becomes more and more relevant.

Why does relevance matter? Does it matter?

It is my thinking, for my own taste, that relevance does matter. The authenticity in art makes it relatable and relevant to the human experience. Another word for authenticity in this context could be "Truth." It's the truth in art that sticks with us and that resonates and lingers. What are your thoughts?



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