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Estelle Weighs in on ‘Blue-Eyed’ Soul in the UK, Brings Sass

estelle_1.jpgEstelle has some strong opinions on the increasingly "blue-eyed" face of soul music. She has been commenting on fellow Brits Duffy and Adele and their media dominance in the UK, making headlines across the pond earlier this year for denouncing them as soul musicians. Estelle has strong feelings about press fixation on white soul singers and rightfully wonders why black soul singers aren't being highlighted equally. She really doesn't mince words about her contemporaries or the situation. Tell 'em why you mad, Estelle!

On Adele:

"[She] ain't soul. She sounds like she heard some Aretha
records once and she's got a deeper voice - that don't mean she's soul."

On soul music:

"As a songwriter, I get what they do. As a black person, I'm like: you're
telling ME this is MY music? F*** that! They keep trying to tell me in the
media what soul music is and I'm like, we KNOW what soul music is, stop
f****** around with us! You're taking the piss out of every black person in
the [UK]!"

These
quotes were reposted in response to the news that Estelle, Duffy and
Adele have all been nominated for the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Best
UK Female Award. Estelle was also nominated for four other awards. [TO/BBC]


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28 Responses

  1. Does Estelle automatically get a soul-pass because she is black? I am not familiar with Duffy or Adele's music but what makes Estelle such an expert on what a soul singer consist of? I agree maybe some blue-eyed "soul" singers may get more praises than necessary but she shouldn't devalue anyones contributions. There are lots of black folks that consider that music soulful and Estelle is not the supreme goddess to make that determination. Music doesn't belong to any group of people it is for everyone, the only thing is that is should always be credited and acknowledged in regards to its origins and where it began. A lot of Americans (blacks including myself) would question if Estelle even knows what soul music is since it originated over here and she is from the UK anyways.

  2. WOW! She's very direct. I

  3. I just saw Duffy perform for the first time the other night on Fashion Rocks and her performance was worse than wack. She sounded aight but has no stage presence whatsoever and just stood there because she couldn't find the rhythm. Had that been a Black artist coming that weak, they woulda never made it on the show. They had Chris Brown doing acrobatics and ish. So I'm inclined to agree with Estelle, who is not the only one to voice this complaint. (See my interview with Hil St. Soul.) White UK soul artists tend to get a pass, moreso than their darker sistren.

  4. Y'know what? Usually I get pissed when artists and this direct with trash-talking in their interviews, but Estelle has a right to be pissed. Shine is in my top 5 albums of 2008, yet she's barely getting any attention and she's not selling. What pisses me off even more is the VH1 "You Oughta Know" deal. They play Duffy, Amy, and all them other white folks on the main VH1 all day long, but the only time I see Jazmine Sullivan, Estelle and Chrisette Michelle's YOK features is on VH1 Soul, which is a good outlet for the soul heads, but it is nowhere near as broad or mainstream.
    My opinions: That Duffy chick ain't work ish. Period. Her voice is trash, piercingly nasal and she supposedly released an album before this and then tried to jump on the 60's vibe bandwagon this time around since it's all the rage now. Either way, she is poor. Adele at least isn't jacking the 60's/70's vibe as formulaically as everyone else, but she's still subpar in my eyes. Her throaty, faux-raspy vocal delivery sounds very forced to me and it's grating to me. And the metaphor lyrics and that video with people rolling all over pavements... please. Sad attempt at being "deep." Amy Winehouse delivered a great album, I can't front. Even though the singles are played out now and I'm sick of hearing her name. But the fact of the matter is that her voice is nothing special and she got lucky. Her next album is sure to fail because if it's not very similar to the last one, people will feel alienated. But if it sounds the same, people will label her as a one-trick-pony. The Motown sound is beautiful. but it gets old very quickly. The Supremes recorded hundreds of songs, but only about 15 of them were hits and the rest were pretty much forgotten about and labeled as fillers. How will artists survive on a sound that already been done and has expired since then. It makes some quick cash, but a career it does not make.
    Estelle is a lil' bit of old and a lil' bit of new. Her album mixes hip hop, rap, neo-soul, old school soul, R&B, pop, and reggae...sometimes all in the same song. She is innovative and the rest aren't. Period. If a white soul singer came along that deserved the hype, I'd give them props, but no one has really done it yet. (And I'm white, so don't even try to accuse me of whatever. I'm speaking my mind. Them other chicks is lame.)

  5. It doesn't really matter where is started from because not all black folks know soul if they hear it.But Estelle is right period.All these white people (and no offense) are so highly praised for singing so what use to be called black music back in the day.

  6. Yah, I particularly agree with what CrystalSoul said at the end. It becomes a little problematic when the music they inspired is, in fact, not from the UK. Then again, Dusty Springfield was from the 60s and you can't front on how good "Son of A Preacher Man" is.
    (Aside: calling "Duffy" the new Duffy is a stretch to me, and side more with Nate's crits on her voice. God, nasally, thin, reedy gahhh)
    But back to Estelle all I'm glad she's speaking out, cuz the vast attention paided to her blue-eyed compatriots is, to my ear, not justified. But just as at first glance it's odd for Adele etc to be in MOBO category, stateside at least seems like they can't figure out what category to put Estelle in.
    Are radio programmers are getting lazy? The same Adult Contemporary stations that would play Amy and Duffy all day won't play an Estelle track? Is it cuz she debuted with Kanye, and they think she's more for the "Urban" stations-- which don't seem to show her love either cuz she's not...what? Cassie? The pussy cat dolls?
    I think that her music has many flavors, stations don't know what to do with her. Which is a shame, cuz all of it's accessible, good "soul" music for grown folks.

  7. Estelle needs to get with the times and get over it. The music industry is cutthroat and no amount of whining is going to change that (Ain't that right, Solange?) I understand her frustration because Duffy is indeed the wackness, but at the same time its not like she hasn't enjoyed her own success (if only recently). American Boy was her first #1 in the UK and it peeked at #11 here on the Hot 100. So she is definitely getting more love here than Duffy and Adele. As for across the pond, the whole white girl with soul gimmick is pretty popular, but like I said, its not like American Boy wasn't a hit. When you don't have a gimmick to fall on, your success eventually falls on the music. Honestly, I think the only difference between her and her blue-eyed counterparts, is that she finally found a sound that could resonate with a more mainstream audience.
    I wonder how she fells about Sam Sparro covering her ish.

  8. "So she is definitely getting more love here than Duffy and Adele."
    Not true. Duffy's "Mercy" is on at least three commercials/movie trailers at the moment, her album debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200, and it has been certified gold by the RIAA. Estelle has barely sold 1,000 units. Adele hasn't been doing so well, you're right about that. But she's all over VH1 and her single was a free download at Starbucks, and if I remember correctly, iTunes. She's recieved quite a bit of exposure/hype here. And both of their albums have performed much better in the UK, otherwise they wouldn't have been imported to the good ol' US of A. Both of Estelle's albums couldn't compare to their success, even though her album is the ish.

  9. Woops... typo. I meant Estelle has barely sold 100,000 units. Still, it's a pretty sad number.

  10. correction:"Duffy the new *DUSTY*"
    D'oh.

  11. Estelle's album is a banger, but I rocks with Adele. Amy's my girl too. Not really on Duffy like that... I don't think Estelle's music is like theirs at all. I see and understand her frustration, however.

  12. Barring Joss Stone and the original queens of British blue-eyed soul Dusty Springfield and Lisa Stansfield, these new chicks are kind of assembly line. They seem to have just been cranked out, cause it is the thing to do.
    Estelle is hitting all cynlinders with this. Oh, her LP rules as well.-QH

  13. LOVE IT!!- watch everybody call her a hater. This is why I want to get her pregnant, LOL!

  14. Dont you see where shes coming from? im not black, but im pro black........ give credit where its due! its like black people doing ROCK music and getting more recognition that white people for ROCK! CMON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Here is what I find so interesting about this on-going debate about so-called "blue-eyed soul": Artists such as Duffy, Adele and even Amy, have never claimed to be the new faces of SOUL music. The media has coined both their sound and image, but these ladies are only making the music that they feel passionate about. While I love Estelle and respect her opinionated personality, she is honestly coming across as quite ignorant. Just as much as Estelle may not want to boxed in with reagards to her sound, neither do the female singers in question. Are not these color lines in music outdated in the 21st century. The last time I checked, we as black people did NOT own the rhythm and blues genre. Estelle continues to perpetuate this cycle, but how ironic that her album borrows from sounds typically classified as 'white'. You know damn well that if one of these dance-pop artists or rock bands were to criticize black singers for 'taking the piss' out of their music, all hell would break loose. I for one consider Adele, Estelle, Duffy, Thicke, etc. to all be soul artists, not because their sounds are so heavily influenced by music of black origin, but because you can hear the passion and SOUL in their singing and songwriting. It is unfortunate that Estelle feels the need to downplay their artistry as a cruel attempt to bamboozle the public and steal away r&b as we know it. She should probably be attacking artists such as T-Pain, who is single handedly ruinging all genres of music... I'm spent...
    Myles

  16. Thank you, Estelle! At least someone still has some balls in this industry. I was just discussing this topic on a message board last week!

  17. Well it's a refreshing contrast to Solange...
    Whatever the background, they ALL sound like they heard an Aretha record once, somewhere down the hallway, far away, distant, so they're 'entitled'.
    Adele and Duffy just bore me, as do all Winehouse's children (I do credit the Winehouse, that is a talent), but that's just my taste.
    It's that same old authenticity and ownership power-play and that's completely understandable, there remains much unfinished business, but maybe it's worth remembering that if those Aretha records set the standard, Aretha was often the only black artist in that recording studio full of musicians. We have always influenced/shared/exchanged/stolen because our respective artistic styles are of such robust quality from such long tradition, that we can afford to do so without diminishment on either side.
    Obvious credit where it's due, but no-one needs to be told. The huge long-standing worldwide stature, quality and achievement of 'Music of Black Origin" is self-evident, so find some generosity of spirit Adele and while you play to the crowd, we'll judge you on your work.

  18. Didn't American Boy go #1 in her home country ? What the hell is she babbling about and Duffy isn't even in the blue eye soul range. She is just 60's Brit pop. Also, Adele doesn't even sing that type of music so what is she bitching about. I could see if she were actually a "soul" artist but she isn't.

  19. I can understand Estelle's frustration at MOBO's choice of nominees, but I think it's sad she chose to deal with it this way. I have Estelle's album and Adele's album (I thought Duffy was contrived from jump so I never felt her), and they're two completely different products. When I think of soul music, I think of music that is genuinely coming from the SOUL. When Adele she sings, I hear it in her voice. The same thing with Estelle. So I've never compared the two except in that aspect. It's funny that she feels that way because, the first time I heard American Boy on the radio was on what would be considered a "white pop" station. It's been on that radio station for months. It's only now hitting the more "urban" radio station in this area and I don't hear it on that station nearly as much as I think I should. By her definition of Soul music, I'm not sure I would categorize her album as such. It has a little bit of everything.
    I don't know. I'm not really sure what people expect. VH1 is a relatively white music station. She stays on VH1 Soul rotation, but I can't say I recall ever seeing her videos on BET on regular rotation.
    I just think it's sad she feels the need to attack other artists who never claimed to be "blue-eyed" soul. The powers that be are gonna do what they want to do because the have the power. Become the power and maybe things will change in your favor.

  20. I'm hoping Mr. Cee was joking his his comment comparing this situation with the hypothetical situation of blacks doing rock getting more recognition than white rock artists. Uh, blacks originated rock music, too!!

  21. This chick! I am sorry, but her London, quasi hip hop , semi soulful patois isn't giving me everything I need. Nor is this ignorant bitter complaint of hers. Songwriting from the heart IS Soul music. Folks need to learn...Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Sara Vaugn, Ella. Country Music, Folk, Jazz & the Blues were once synonomous, not because of the history of Race in America, but because of that deep down feeling of dispair, loneliness, loss and love. White folks are entitled to those FEELINGS (entitled to have a SOUL, no?). Black British woman have long been in the foreground of the soul dialogue. D'Influence, Young Desciples. She needs to step off and let Adele, Duffy, Amy and any other talented white chicks do their damn thing.

  22. Wow, this topic was on me and my partners lips last week. People of color we need to wake up. This is an issue of economics. Duffy and Adele are selling. Maybe not platinum but they are selling. SO this is the way of history. Afro people create a style of music, clothing, culture and we really ride and do well with it. It gets watered down and then white people join the fold . They begin to do the music. The very white media hails them as the new "Whateva " and they sell records or the product at hand. Melaninated people abandon and create something new. Estelle is correct and I feel bad for her. Honestly, I dont feel any soul from any of these artists. Soul comes from the spirit. Its not just a style. So when somebody makes me feel like I did when I heard LAuryn Hills' new tracK "World is a Hustle" or any of Jazmine's Sullivan tracks. Then we can talk. Jazmine is the most SOUL FULL artist out right now. She me feel. Me feeel her in me bones. Cha

  23. Ok but Estelle is specifically talking about the UK media and they ARE touting the white artists and pushing their Cds across the pond from the get go. Usually you had to break big in the UK and your Cd might get released in the US if you did a big media blitz for months. I like Estelle. She wasn't getting support and had to come to the US to break whereas Duffy and Adele did not. Si I get where she's coming from. But they are both really young, Adele is like 19 I. And she's plus-sized so I am actually surprised she got a deal and the heavy promotion. I saw her live and she's very humble and she can blow! She knows who her influences are. The person I'd target for ripping off Black people is Justin Timberfake. He should NEVER sing Marvin Gaye again!!!! He needs a reminder that he is a product of Black producers, co-writers and choreographers and without them his career would have gone the path of JC Chasez who can sing and dance just as well but didn't quite catch fire. And on a different note can I just say that I love Ms. Dynamite and was royally pissed how her label jacked up her US promotion and repacking of her debut album.

  24. While I do agree that it is wrong for the UK media to give more attention to white artists who do the whole "soul revival" music than black R&B artists, in my opinion Estelle is no more talented than Duffy, Adele or Amy Winehouse. Estelle does not have a good singing voice, and I prefer Amy Winehouse's music over all the artists mentioned. Estelle's music is also no more soulful than the artists I mentioned.

  25. Estelle is absolutely right! Not that a "white" artist cannot produce soul music… only the one's that the music industry bombs as "soul" artists most of the time are not genuine. Let me give you an example. The Belgian Itunes store (and I am sure most European Itunes stores do too) have a new category to promote soul music: "For fans of Amy Winehouse". Squeeeeze me !?!?? This is an INSULT to the legacy of true soul music. They would have better called that category "The Music Amy Winehouse's producer listened to".
    As a soul lover this makes me sooo angry!

  26. And I suppose Alicia Keys should give up the piano, and any blacks in orchestras and symphonies should give that all up because they couldn't possibly be genuine. oh, and soccer belongs to ethnic Brits, also.
    When she, and others, talk like that, they do not know what they are truly implying. Can you imagine if some white soccer players feigned outrage by their African opponents "telling them how to play soccer" or cricket, or playing the guitar, or whatever.
    Estelle isn't even remotely a soul singer. I liked "American Boy," but if she's trying to claim soul music, she definitely is adding to it's demise. Talk about watered down....

  27. I don't believe that a white artist is not capable of creating soul music, depends on their personal experience and ability to channel that into a tangible sound on record. Are they culture vultures or just another artist trying to get a break? Well that depends on what happens after they gain fame. But all in all, I think it'd be foolish to say that Estelle is being blindly ignorant...i mean you do remember what happened to that thing called Rock n Roll . . .

  28. Please comment more often, RifRaf. I likes da science. 🙂



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