NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 36

betty davis: The rhythm and the simplicity. Someone like Lightnin’ Hopkins…it was just a guitar and voice. John Lee Hooker, his early records had just a bass and drums… jh: …and often just a handful of words. bd: Mm-hmm. jh: Do you still listen to a lot of blues? bd: I listen to a lot of Lightnin’ Hopkins. He’s my favorite! jh: Does music play a big part in your life these days? bd: Well, most since I’ve gotten older…I listen to music. The business has changed significantly. I listen to some contemporary things. jh: Is there anyone in particular that piques your interest? bd: No… Well there’s that song that Jay-Z and Alicia Keys sing. New York. [“Empire State of Mind”] jh: Do you see your influence on any contemporary artists? jh: I think hip-hop in some respects is the closest thing to blues but even that is coming out of a different experience and speaking a different language. Do you think that perhaps, it’s something to do with the fact that your records are also pretty musically adventurous? It seems like you were even pushing what was being done in funk music at the time. We talk about the blues thing but on Is It Love or Desire I hear so many different things… There’s that quiet tune “When Romance Says Goodbye.” I don’t think people knew you could sing like that. bd: Mm. jh: That’s one of the crimes of that record not coming out in the 70s. I think it would have opened people up to more of what Betty Davis was about. As such a diverse and progressive artist, what are your feelings about where the industry is now? bd: I think music has changed so considerably. You have pop music, which was predominantly white music, but now it’s African-American music, really. jh: Or some dilution of it. bd: [Long pause] Some songs I do, others I don’t… I don’t think they’ve got up to me yet. bd: Yeah, it really is. And then you have rock music…but you don’t have any groups in it anymore. jh: How true. Why do you think it’s taken folks so long? jh: So, you seem to have a pretty even sense of the industry. Where did your disillusionment with the music business really come from and why do you think you decided to ultimately step away from the entertainment industry as a whole? jh: Do you mean creatively or commercially? bd: I mean creatively. jh: Yeah, but you’re still singing and writing and being creative for yourself from what I’ve heard. bd: Well, I still write but I don’t know at anytime what I am going to do with the material. I don’t know whether I’ll go back into the studio to record another album or whether I’ll give my music to someone else to re