We're already coming to the end of the first month in 2012, but Death has still found time to rear its ugly head. It has taken the lives of American Funk/R&B saxophonist Jimmy Castor, American R&B singer/songwriter Johnny Otis and American Blues/R&B vocalist Etta James to mention a few. And although any loss is sad as these people are leaving behind families, friends and loved ones, it does make me ponder if we truly appreciate the people in our lives before they depart from this world. Like Joni Mitchell said in Big Yellow Taxi - "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone".
In the music world, legends are few and far between and they're all slowly departing from this world. I feel that the most commercial ones (Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse etc) get more prevalence in terms of news coverage and tributes whilst the lesser known ones (Jimmy Castor, Johnny Otis etc) and their reputations are talked about in silence. People should be treated as equals, we should be able to tell their story and let their achievements do the talking. It's about the mark they left on people around them, that's what they should be remembered for.
It's a shame that as a music artist, your death can sometimes give you more wealth than you ever had when you were living. Posthumous albums, album re-release packages, unreleased never-heard-before material and the like make this all a reality nowadays.
In the case of Aaliyah, although she was very well-known in the R&B circles and had major hits in that genre - it took her last album release to catapult her into the mainstream eyes. It was her biggest selling album to date (released a few months before her passing). In the UK, she obtained her first UK No.1 with More Than A Woman after her death. Globally, people bought the album in the bucketloads. Her talent was never appreciated like that when she was alive. People jumped on the bandwagon to celebrate her talent and what she did for R&B (once they were forced to do their research and appreciate her past hits).
"If you admire somebody, you should go 'head tell 'em. People never get the flowers while they can still smell 'em" - Kanye West, Big Brother
I think it's sad that in this day and age, we glorify the non-talented and brush over the talented and even legendary people; just because we find it convenient in terms of the celebrity culture we've created. We are so quick to label the next legend even though they may not have earned that right yet through their achievements and successes. What irks me is we're obsessed with artists like Flo Rida and glorify his lyrics. Yet in his recent UK hit Good Feeling he samples a sample from Avicii's song Levels which was a sample itself from Etta James' original hit Something's Got a Hold On Me. Shouldn't we be glorifying Etta's original vocal effort instead? What's the basis?
I encounter truly remarkable people in my life on a daily basis, people that inspire me with their values, morals and beliefs. People who always go the extra mile in everything they do, good people. They're talented and hard-working people. These people are the ones I really appreciate, yet will they ever get the plaudits they deserve? Possibly not.
Let's start off by appreciating the people in our lives before it's too late.
Follow Kamran Assadi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kamranassadi