Musical appreciation grows through tragedy


By Xavier Johnson, Web Editor

Over the past two years there have been a significant number of musicians who have died, young and old alike.
The deaths have ranged from people in their 20s, like Mac Miller and Avicii, to old legends like Chris Cornell and Aretha Franklin. Each death reverberated throughout the world and their fans mourned these musicians whose music was significant to them.
Through this pain and mourning comes a bittersweet silver lining. When musical artists dies it becomes the best time to discover their music and what made it significant.
When an artist dies the musical generation gap is temporarily crossed, as millions of fans mourn and others gain the opportunity to appreciate the impact of a previously unknown and unappreciated artist.
Music is given life through the context of the time it was created and the experiences of those that enjoyed it.
For all-time classic musicians and singers like Aretha Franklin it’s easy to appreciate their evident greatness. Franklin was an astounding vocalist, however, just being a great singer isn’t what made her death affect the world so deeply on Aug. 16.
While the meaning her music brought to those who grew up listening to her is self-evident, her death delivers an invitation for younger generations that missed the wave to appreciate her art and impact.
For a lot of people Franklin was just “parents’ music” they grew up listening to in the house. Her mega-hit “Respect” was a good, albeit overplayed, commercial anthem that’s a standard at public functions.
In the wake of Franklin’s death people got the chance to tell others what she meant to them in person or on social media. Dozens of in-depth articles were written about her impact on many aspects of art, culture and society.
Upon her death her music was contextualized and played all over mass media, trending at the top of social media sites. Her music grabbed the attention of a young audience for a brief moment. During that time music listeners got the chance to understand why her music was appreciated on such a deep level.
The contextual appreciation of an artist’s music after their death isn’t just a one-way street.
An influential younger musician’s death crosses the generation gap differently. The context that makes their music thrive is occuring at the same time it’s cut short.
When they die, older generations get their first exposure from the myriad of headlines and social media posts. Most people listen to music that’s either what they grew up listening to or music of a similar sound. With the intrigue of a musician’s death people might take a chance and listen to their music.
On June 18, rapper Xxxtentacion was killed. The 20-year-old Florida rapper was a huge name in the hip-hop scene blowing up with viral tracks online. He amassed a rabid following of loyal fans and at the time of his death they took to the streets to mourn with large memorials and candlelight vigils.
Xxxtentacion’s death gave people who had never heard his music a chance to witness the impact it had and learn about what made his music and himself popular as a figure intriguing to millions of people. Next time a musician dies take the time to read the feature stories about their life and music. Check out a few of their popular tracks and some deep cuts.