Roy Acuff apparently once said, “I don’t sing songs, I sell them.” Whether he said it or not, it’s easy to judge him for commercialism and profit. Artists grapple with “selling out.” But I wondered about another way to look at it.
As I watched Kim and Reggie Harris at the CMN Magic Penny Celebration, I thought about how convincingly they sing. How I am pulled into the power of their words and inflections and phrasing, and how it’s beautiful. It’s because they have a deep authenticity that shows up in their voices. And they are also gifted and experienced artists. Substitute “sell” songs to “connect songs” and there’s a place where there’s something in common. How music reaches across the gap between people, but also between times and places. Genuine. Because Roy Acuff clearly could also connect with people. He wasn’t just a con artist selling something worthless. I don’t think it was all an act. Maybe later it in his life it was. Who knows? Talent matters but it isn’t everything. Do you believe the singer? Captivated, engaged, enthralled, delighted. Or a host of other words.
I am swayed by talent, but I’m also swayed by heart. When those come together, I’m sold.