Music reflects our values, uplifts, inspires and reveals our dreams and aspirations. Some composers and artists, however, no longer idolize the beautiful and elegant but glorify the coarse and vulgar.

I was a student at the High School of Music and Art in the late 1950s. Each morning, as I waited in the auditorium for classes to begin, strains of doo-wop emanated from every corner. It was here that the new sounds were created and experimented with by students, both black and white.

One of my classmates wrote several hits for Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and had a successful career of his own. It was during that era that the musical creativity of many black people was recognized, rewarded and provided for with myriad opportunities for blacks and whites.

The doo-wop sounds could not be categorized or easily identified as “black” or “white.” It was poetry celebrating the joys of love and life accompanied by lyrical melodies and sung by harmonious voices full of hope and aspirations.

By contrast, the pop culture of today features rap music, an oxymoron by any standard, which almost exclusively celebrates the black experience and is often full of expressions of hate and depictions of violence, not to mention profanity.

If anything can be said about the music of the ’50s, it did not oppress but offered freedom of expression, created opportunities and, most importantly, uplifted and celebrated the simple joys of life that bind us together as human beings.

Ed Konecnik


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