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Willy Schwarz

Genres? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Genres!

In the Artist's Own Words: Willy Schwarz

The music business is dead long live the music! As the "Big Five" (Sony, Bertelsmann, etc.) mutually cannibalize each other in their lust for market shares, there's already talk of "The Big Three." I fear we will live to see the day in which the entirety of music will be supplied by "The Music Company," which may itself be a subsidiary of "The Culture Department." Sound Orwellian? Perhaps the best evidence of what I'm purporting, as well as the best hope for the future, is you yourself.

You are a misfit! If you weren't, you wouldn't be here at Rootsworld, reading the blatherings of some guy named Schwarz. Well, my friend,

I'm a misfit too! Always have been, always will be. Italian immigrant father with a German name, German mother with an Italian name. Jewish kid in Catholic school in a Dutch Calvinist bastion in Western Michigan. Our house was a musical Tower of Babel; Puccini, Louvin Brothers, Volkslieder, Sam Cooke and the Beachboys all vying for attention. Small wonder then, that little Billy could often be found at the Public Library, sitting in the LP department, listening to music of the Congo, the Eskimos, or the Balinese.

I wanted to explore the width and breadth of music; to hear what was "out there". Of course what I was listening to were mostly field recordings, made by anthropologists. In the 50s and 60s, music was still conveniently classified into Classical, Jazz, Popular and Folk. What today is politically-correctly referred to as "Roots" was then officially known as "Primitive Music."

And then all hell broke loose.

The categories started breeding subspecies, offshoots, reactionary movements, bastard offspring, etc. The reason for this was the innate human resistance to being cubby-holed. Turns out NO ONE IS NORMAL! I met a truck driver who listens to Brahms in the cab, and a flute virtuoso who unwinds with Mantovani.

Music, like people, by nature defies categorization, much to the frustration of "the Majors", and to the concomitant delight of "the Independents". The evolution of the Web has virtually exploded the possibilities for people to seek out their particular favorite sound-niches, simultaneously with the decline of retail-as-we-know-it.

For me, the most difficult question to answer has always been; "Oh, you're a musician. What kind of music do you play?" While I've never had another profession, I've never sought to 'make a career' in music. The career always somehow found me. Good thing, too! How do you market a "world-music-singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who also composes for theatre"? I let my respect for, and familiarity with, the world's musical traditions inform and inspire the music I make, and I hope for the best! I'm also something of a Luddite, and had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the virtual era, but now am proud to hype my little website, which you, my fellow misfit, are most welcome to hit. - Willy Schwarz

Willy's CDs are available from cdRoots

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