Why is music important?

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‘‘If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music’’
― Albert Einstein


I was once asked, ‘‘why is music important?’’ It was, and still is, easily one of the most complex yet simplistic questions I have ever been asked. How do you answer, and put into words, a lifetime of memories, emotions and experiences? I first imagined a world without music. It was a dull and lifeless place that made no sense ― a lost world in limbo with no meaning.

Music, whatever the genre may be, is the soundtracks to our lives. Moments can be pinpointed through tracks and beats that you have the closest recollection to because, well, it is one of the few mediums of expression that really describes and articulates our stories, voices and deepest thoughts.

Music is an outburst of our souls. It feeds us, makes us happy and makes us sad. Music is life, and that’s why it’s important. We all have our own playlists to life, one that sparks nostalgia, a playlist that starts from the moment you heard your first song and continues to play in the background to this current day. What tracks are on your playlist?

My love affair started from a young age, I grew up in a household where music was at the center of our home. My mom would dance along to Sade, Nina Simone, Kool and the Gang and artists like, Candi Staton – ‘‘Young Hearts’’ still being one of my most loved classic tracks. Why? Because it reminds me of a time when my mom was happy again after a period of sadness and struggle. I remember being a little girl, dancing around the house to this song as she played it, full blast, over and over again.

Each time she played it she felt better and better. The lyrics ‘I’m going to love me for the rest of my days’ filled our home. And, from that day, that’s exactly what she did. Bob Marley said:

‘‘One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.’’

Playing music allowed her to escape, fully escape, from whatever place she was in and allowed her to be carefree –  happy. For those few minutes I would see her smile and forget any stresses or worries. She was free. I saw it with my own eyes and it was in this particular moment that I learnt, and was fully able to appreciate, the power of music and its magic on the soul.

The phenomenal, Maya Angelou stated, ‘‘I think a number of leaders are, whether they like it or not, in the hip-hop generation. And when they understand enough, they’ll do wonders. I count on them.’’ I believe this to be entirely true. As a genre, the world of hip-hop is carried through story telling – some sad, some explicit and some inspiring. Whatever the content there are some hip-hop artists that hold, literally in their hands – pen to paper – the power to shape a brighter future and to make positive visions a reality.

They have the power to change the world because people listen to them – really listen to them. People relate to their stories and are fully engaged when they talk. The rawness and realness of these artists has the power to be infectious in a way that other genres can’t do.

Through music, artists are able to make statements, send messages through a beautifully crafted talent that holds weight, but also inspires. Many artists have found salvation within hip-hop and dedicated beats and rhymes to her. Music is one of the most prominent relationships and connections we will hold on to and will ever know.

‘‘Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.’’
― Plato

There are albums or songs that define whole chapters of our lives. The first song that is danced to at a wedding, the track, that every time it plays, will forever remind you of that specific time with that specific someone. The song that was overplayed in the summer of ’05, but every time you hear it, you smile to yourself because it reminds you of a past-time you will never forget, but can’t get back.

The song that you put on and as soon as it plays you are instantly transported to a time before, the track that makes you excited for the future. The album that you repeatedly played throughout a difficult time because that’s the only way you knew how to get through it.

The artist that you are certain knows exactly what you’re thinking and feeling because the song they just released has an uncanny likeness to the way you feel at that point in your life. Can you imagine a life without music, now? No radio, no stereos, no stories, no beats, no… nothing.

Music brings people together in a way that nothing else can. Jam sessions connect individuals, music unites. Music is a celebration, and the art itself is so creatively and powerfully important in our lives – no matter how different they may be.

I can’t count the amount of times I have turned to Talib Kweli, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, or J Dilla tracks in a time when no one, or nothing else could have made me feel the way their music does, or filled a void that was unexplainable in any other way. I hide away to these tracks, I shine to these tracks, I am my truest self when I am lost, then found, in these tracks.

So, to my first and forever lasting love, I salute you.