Thursday, August 2, 2007

Negro, Not a Negro – the audio version

Please indulge me in another experiment. I have no idea how easy or difficult this might be...

I’ve uploaded snippets of four music tracks to my Vox audio stash. Think you can tell, by your ears alone, whether a singer is a Negro... or not a Negro?

This is not a contest, just an experiment. No need for any detective work. Just go by what you hear and feel. I’ll provide the answers over the weekend.

Okay, here are the snippets:

Track A

Track B

Track C

Track D

UPDATE (08/03/07): Interesting. Three of you – UBMFAN1, Mark V and Eric – got all of ’em correct. To wit:

A. Not a Negro
B. Negro
C. Negro
D. Not a Negro

Apparently it’s easier for a white singer to “sound black” than for a black singer to “sound white.” Five out of nine listeners were fooled by D – Suzanne Cloud (photo at left). I guess it’s her husky voice.

I was only able to trick four of you with Track C; that’s Thornetta Davis (photo below). And that’s as close as Ms. Davis can sound to white, due evidently to the alt-rock style of that particular song... which I love, by the way.

If I ever try this again, as a for-real contest, I’ll have to work hard to find a black singer who can fake you all out your socks.

Anyways, here are the complete tracks, FYI:

A. “Feel Like Makin’ Love” – Carrie Coltrane

B. “Summer on the Beach” – Evelyn Thomas

C. “And I Spin” – Thornetta Davis

D. “Just My Imagination” – Suzanne Cloud


SJ said...

It is hard for me to tell but here are my best guesses:

A. Not negro

B. Negro

C. Not negro

D. Negro

susie said...

A. Not a Negro
B,C,D. Negro

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Miles Davis went through a similar listening test for Downbeat once. He claimed he could tell the difference because a white sound "just wouldn't go through my body." I think I know what he meant. Unfortunately, he got many of his answers wrong.

So in the spirit of Miles Davis, here's my shot: A,C, D - Not; B - Yes.

BTW, I'd Teena Marie to the list of "Black-sounding" white singers. Tom Jones and Michael Bolton need to be banned from that list.

Anonymous said...


jena6 said...

I'm wingin' it:

A. Negro
B. Negro
C. Not Negro
D. Negro

Mark V said...

totally quick impression answers:
a - not negro
b - negro
c - negro
d - not negro

Eric said...

My guesses match Mark V's:

A. Not a Negro
B. Negro
C. Negro
D. Not a Negro

Pandyora said...

Great idea. My guesses:

A. non-negro
B. negro
C. non-negro
D. negro

So I'm in agreement with sj.

By the way, I did a quick search on what scholarly articles have been publisehd on race and music. None of the ones I found do this expierment. Instead, they tend to see if what music people prefer depends on race. According to one 1970 study, for example, 88% of the artists preferred by black respondents were black; while 68% of the artists preferred by white respondents were white. I wonder if these number still hold up today...

Edshugeo The GodMoor said...

I'm gonna go with all Negroes.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Sheeiittt! I was Miles Davis like a muthafucka! I had a question mark by C, too. Dammit!

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Dave, do a booty shot Negro, Not a Negro! Search hard, brotha.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Brilliant concept! Brilliant!

NGG said...

I got all of them right.
Not, Negro, Negro, Not.
The last lady didn't fool me at all.

Anonymous said...

I got all of them right.
Not, Negro, Negro, Not.

Anonymous said...

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