Skin: The Non Issue of Race in Alternative Rock

Breaking the shackles imposed by societies and cultures has been one of the more important and objective purposes of art. Thus, art can be objective because of its ability to shock the sensibilities of people who impose cultural and racial baggage.

Sex, the colour of one’s skin, nationality and even the kind of art that one pursues has always been stereotyped and those who break these rules rarely achieve commercial success. Deborah Anne Dyer, popularly known as Skin has broken all possible rules in the book of art and entertainment.

Alternative rock, which had been dominated by male singers during the nineties, the almost “white” nature of Rock & Roll even though it evolved from African musical styles, the almost heterosexual market to which music was being sold to, and even alternative rock itself which was a rebellion against mainstream rock genres… These are the rules that Skin has broken. While she has refused to succumb to any single genre, especially Britrock, she has created a niche for herself in the world of alternative rock.

Initially, it was easy for people to dismiss Skin and the band that they rose to fame because of her skin colour. It was just too hard for people to see a black woman sing Alternative Rock. These were the very same people who forgot that rock in particular originated from black music, and if one were to stereotype rock music as being a prerogative of the whites, it would indeed be futile.

Of course, there have always been black women in rock including Tina turner and many others. However, Skin stands out not because she is the black frontwoman of an alternative rock band but because she is amazing at what she does: singing and songwriting.

Music has no gender nor does it have any racial affiliations. When cultures and societies impose these racial, sexual, musical or even gender stereotypes, it takes a Skunk Anansie or someone similar to shake the record industry, which usually tries to manufacture the “image” of not only singers and bands, but also the image of musical genres themselves. Skin has got back with Skunk Anansie after a hiatus and a Best Of album is expected very soon.


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