Monday, January 18th, 2016

The Voice that Defied Convention: A Nod to The Iconic David Bowie

Admiration Of A Creative Extremist

If anyone has Owned The Conversation lately, it's been David Bowie.

A creative extremist, through his artistry Bowie offered means of understanding the misunderstood.

He identified primarily as a songwriter, but Bowie's singing voice was marvelous in that it was his own. At times primordial, with a kind and wavering vibrato, it warmed through his poetry and theatrics. And we were seduced.

So many these days are busy trying to sound alike. To commit to your own sound, to stand out, takes guts. There is no mistaking a unique voice.

And Bowie's stood out. By being himself. A changeable self: "I change every day. I'm not outrageous. I'm David Bowie." A disruptive innovator, he filled a space previously unspoken for and unowned. A whitespace previously unclaimed.

With an uncanny instinct for relevance [and always polite] – and in a cry we hear today with #OscarsSoWhite – he called out a young MTV for discrimination in this 1983 interview.

His gallant early mastery of growing a reputation and being present were in the details.

One of the many ways Bowie snapped stereotypes was simply by pairing with talent to whom he was drawn, championing young bands and artists. The unexpected collaborations continued with his final album [pronounced Blackstar] and invitation to the McCaslin quartet. Said drummer, Mark Guiliana:

"It did surprise me. But I feel like he's built a career and artistic identity on surprises. It falls in line with who he is as an artist."

For Bowie, writing was an unfettered outpouring of the unconscious, yet always with the intent to connect with others. From something instinctive, identity and image became more conscious, in practicing Tibetan Buddhism and mime.

Today on stage in Lazarus [which one hopes will run beyond January 20th] and the strains of , these different levels of awareness are at play. They reveal, at the core of his music, Bowie's profound yearning for connection.

And most of all, for love.


[Image credit: Ralph Gatti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, Source: The New York Times]

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