Carolina Chocolate Drops: A Reminder That Nothing Is Black and White

American Music has never, ever, ever had a racial monopoly. Even though in the last few decades the media has reinforced the idea that Rap is “Black music” and Country is “White music”. Not too many folks would come right out and say that (“What about Emeniem and Darius Rucker?!” They might say…), but it’s a signature American unspoken norm.

However, nothing could be farther from the truth. “White” Rock & Roll would be nonexistent without the Blues and the amazing African American musicians of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s would have toiled in obscurity were in not for the likes of Harry Smith and W.C. Handy. American music has always been a racially interactive dance.

Today, this dance is displayed with excellence in the music of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. This African American quintet consisting of an incredible banjo player, a guitar player, a fiddle player with great pipes and a singer/beat boxer is taking folk music into largely uncharted waters: contemporary Black Culture. The combination of acoustic old-time instrumentation, both old-timey & hip-hop sensibilities and deep roots reminds us why we need racial dialogue and collaboration.

The White Church and the Black Church (I am sad there is still such a division) could learn a lot from the daring of The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ willingness to adopt, adapt, and embrace a barrage of racial cultures for the good of all involved. I hope to see that day, and in the mean time I am encouraged by great music like this.

Seriously, if this doesn’t rock your world…

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About Nick Rynerson

Nick Rynerson lives in Normal, Illinois (no, seriously). In his free time, He writes, attempts to play mandolin, reads and hangs out with his groovy wife. Nick has a soft spot for any song with a banjo and thinks Bruce Campbell is the best actor on earth. However, he is a terrible golfer and has particular distaste internet controversy . Nick is passionate about the Church, (lower case) orthodoxy and whatever he's been reading about recently.

Follow Nick on Twitter: @Nick_Rynerson
or at his website: nickrynerson.com

  • http://learntoembracethestruggle.com Alison

    Beyond awesome. We need so much more of that!

  • Amy

    The Carolina Chocolate Drops seriously “rock my world”. I love love love their music. I’ve told everyone I know about them. Music interpretation has no room for “color” definition. These folks are true artists.

  • Bornunderpunches86

    The first video is from when they played WDVX’s Blue Plate Special here in Knoxville, TN. Awesome.

  • Bruce

    What a bonus to hear quality like this. Colour doesn’t affect the sound which is simply stunning!

  • fainlb

    Love, love, love the CCD and have seen them many times. As noted previously, they rock MY world, despite color. I don’t even think about it. I know what music makes me feel alive and loved and REAL and CCD hits the nail on the head, so to speak. So thankful that my husband suggested we go see them in person, after he saw them on some PBS show.

  • Jeff Cavanaugh

    Nick, I love the music and I’m delighted to be introduced to the group. I’m not sure, though, that I quite understand the point you’re trying to make. I’m not terribly knowledgeable about music criticism, and I get the sense you’re participating in a conversation here (about music and race) that I’ve never considered before. I’m sure I’m not alone among CAPC readers in feeling this way.

    Can you explain a little more fully or simply for those of us who maybe don’t have the categories to quite get what you’re saying here? Had I not read your post first, when I saw the videos I’d just have thought, “Hey, these folks are great musicians! I love their sound.” It wouldn’t have occurred to me that their race would be something worth noting or commenting on. So what am I missing?

  • http://nickrynerson.com Nick Rynerson

    Hey Jeff,

    Thanks for your comments. I think that it is important to notice and join the conversation on race. I understand your sentiment that race shouldn’t matter all that much, and I agree 150%. However, in the context of the American church and American music it does matter very much. We may not all be open racists but there is a real, tangible gap between “white” culture and “black” culture. This is felt in every sphere from television to religion. And as a believer who has a racially ecumenical vision for the church (I hate the idea of a ‘black church’ and a ‘white church’), I want to point out groups, churches, etc. who are actively living a life of racial transcendence, while still exploring their racial history and participating in their racial culture.

    In short, CCD are a big deal because race is still a big deal, even if it’s not all that PC to talk about. Hope this helps, brother!


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