TROY CARTER TO WENNER: "YOUR VIEWS... ARE CANCEROUS SEEDS"

HITS has obtained an email from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame board member and Venice Music boss Troy Carter to disgraced Rock Hall co-founder Jann Wenner, whom the board voted to remove on 9/16. Carter's response to Wenner—who told The New York Times he didn't consider Black or female artists "articulate" enough for his interview book—is both thoughtful and forceful. We include it here in its entirety.

Dear Jann,

I appreciate your reaching out to the board to clarify your remarks and offer an apology. I have listened to the audio of your New York Times interview, and, to be frank, it doesn't appear that you were misquoted or misunderstood. The statements you made were quite clear.

It's mind-blowing to hear you imply that women and Black artists lack the intellectual articulation to be philosophers of rock, considering the significant contributions they have made, not only in terms of creative output but also in articulating the cultural, political and social aspects of their work. Artists like Nina Simone and Billie Holiday used their music to tackle pressing issues of civil rights and social injustice. They spoke eloquently about the purpose behind their music. Robert Johnson, Little Richard and Chuck Berry laid much of the groundwork for what rock and roll would become, both musically and conceptually.

Women have also played an indispensable role in the evolution of rock and roll and its sub-genres. Take, for example, Patti Smith and Tracy Chapman’s intellectual poetry or Joni Mitchell's introspective lyrics, which have influenced countless musicians across gender lines. They, along with many other women, have certainly delved deeply into the philosophy of music and life through their work and interviews.

Your words run the risk of undermining the very institution you helped build by propagating a narrative that isn't just narrow but exclusionary. These artists and many others like them have enriched our culture and broadened our understanding of what rock and roll can be. They were philosophers in their own right who gave voice to experiences and ideas that might otherwise have been ignored. Your racist and sexist views on “mastery” are cancerous seeds that this organization cannot support.

One of the beautiful things about music is that it transcends borders, genders and races. It brings people together—qualities that should be reflected at all levels of the Hall of Fame. You have every right to your opinion, whether or not I agree. But as a member of one of the most important music institutions in the world, your opinion is hurtful to all of the women and Black artists who hold the RRHF in high regard. While you have a storied history in the music industry, that story also includes a long history of racial bias and bigotry.

We can't change what was said, but we can learn from it and take steps to ensure that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is an institution that truly honors the breadth and depth of contributions to music. I’ve included a few links to interviews so you can educate yourself on artistic articulation. Nina and Joni would run circles around you on their worst day. It’s always difficult when a board removes a founder, but in this case, it’s easy. Kick rocks, buddy.

Regards,

Troy Carter

Nina Simone Interview

Joni Mitchell Interview

Stevie Wonder Interview


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