Using African American Musical Styles

Some of my hymns and worship songs use Gospel music idioms or popular idioms derived from African American musical traditions. In keeping with my commitment to racial justice and to working toward a society where all people can flourish, I want to be very explicit in honoring the African American musicians who developed and who continue to develop these styles, in expressing my gratitude for this profound music, and in acknowledging that for a European-descended songwriter/composer to use such styles carries risks of exploitation. In my case, use of these musical styles has coincided with decades of (1) teaching college and church courses on the sociology of anti-Black racism and (2) providing financial support to BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Color)-led racial justice organizations; while those attempts to work against racism do not erase the possibility of cultural appropriation, I hope they demonstrate my commitment to being part of the work against white supremacy and for a society that values BIPOC as much as European-descended people.

If you use any of my music, I encourage you to donate the money you would have spent on licensing fees to support local or national racial justice organizations.