What to make of Archie Watkins going solo? For the blogger, possibilities for snark seem endless. The mind reels, the ears bleed etc .. you get the idea.
Of course I’ve probably said all that already, and naturally I wouldn’t walk across the hall to hear Archie sing (plus: you’d need much more soundproofing than your average drywall and insulation provide to keep from hearing Archie’s voice in his
nasal passage upper registers).
But actually the one thing I’ve thought most about since reading the news is that this will probably work out for him pretty well. I mean, contrary to claims being made over at Mount Listmore, the Inspirations and the group’s success have never been primarily about music. It’s about the personae of the group, individually and collectively, about celebrating certain religious folkways and giving people a way to feel they’re part of something noticeably set apart, that they’re palpably living up to the scriptural mandate of separateness from the world as a distinguishing feature of Christian piety. And there’s nothing wrong with this most of the time (though Martin Cook can take it too far from the stage on a regular basis). But this is one of those instances in which cultural appeal shouldn’t be confused with musical quality.
So yeah … Solo Archie will sell, I’d wager. And because my aesthetic biases in this particular situation put me at the far limits of my ability to provide meaningful non-snarky commentary, I asked around with people who might have a more useful perspective. This response seemed worth passing along, from an industry insider:
Archie has been and is one of the true “good guys” in this business. He is always positive and no one can be unhappy in his presence. He is generous to everyone with praise, with attention, with any kind of help anyone requests, and few know the work and effort he has put into building this industry over the years. And I’ve never heard him say or do anything to indicate he expects people to “look at me!!!” He absolutely lives and breathes what he sings. While many can, have, and will no doubt continue to debate his singing style and ability, no one can deny his signature effect on thousands of lives.
Being a good guy is no reason to go hear someone sing, mind you, much less like their music if your tastes run the other way, and please don’t mistake all this as some endorsement of the Inspirations or their musical style, which probably will never be my bag (and always be a big hit with others). But that’s no reason not to wish the guy well.Email this Post