Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, I struggled a lot with fitting in. The only Black people I saw regularly were my family, and even they didn’t have a similar taste of music to me. My sister loved pop music, my parents loved old school R&B, House music, and Soul music, and I loved classic rock. I didn’t even fit in with my other peers at school or my friends, and it didn’t bother me until recently. Thinking back on it, there were so many times I’d want to share my interests, only to be ignored or shot down by others. There were also times where I’d just listen to music my friends liked to keep the peace instead of voicing my needs and wants. It even got to a point where I noticed I was starting to listen to artists who I thought my friends would like, instead of music I genuinely liked. And even when I tried to show them music they’d like, they still shot me down.
I even have unique musical tastes in classical music, so I found it hard to connect with my peers in orchestra during my undergraduate studies. I love baroque, renaissance and classical music mainly, while my peers loved romantic music.
I recognize now that I need to find and be around people who appreciate my interests, so I typically perform in whatever baroque ensemble is offered at school (I’m currently in Concerto Urbano and it’s fabulous). It makes such a difference to be around like minded people. My best friend has similar music interests to me, and I always feel comfortable showing him the music I like. It made me realize how a good friend should be. Being in the Hip Hop Collective also made me realize that I can trust my instincts as a composer as well!
To anyone who feels their music tastes are too weird, trust me, they’re not! It can be hard to find people who appreciate your interests (especially as a BIPOC musician) but once you do, you won’t feel like you have to hide the best parts of yourself to get people to like you. Please keep making music and sharing your interests with people!