On Art, Community, and the Culture of Commerce

The world is sick and art is the only thing that can heal it. The problem is that mankind has eschewed the discipline of artistry in favor of private pursuits. The current trend is to elevate the ideals of the individual over what is best for the whole. This creates a chasm within our society, which is tantamount to separating a tree from its roots. Art is a direct line to our ancestors and it is the artist’s job to be a conduit between the physical and supernatural realms.

Shady Grove

When this connection to the ancestors is broken we do a great disservice to ourselves. In the hands of the unenlightened, the practice of art can become a very dangerous tool. What was meant to be a force of unity is now a source of destruction. The way our system is setup is the antipode of how things should be.  Holidays that are supposed to celebrate family and friends are now merely guideposts toward consumerism. An LED TV is the new Love. We’d rather stand in line at Best Buy than to be in line with our Best Selves. There is more deference paid to the material than to our spiritual well-being.

We assert control in areas we should accept and accept things where we should exert control.

Regardless of what you may or may not believe, art reminds us that there is something greater than ourselves; that there is more to our existence than what we see before us. Whereas love at times can be elusive and ethereal, art has a way of translating love into something very tangible and palpable. Most things packaged as art today distract us from the real reason we are here: to help one another evolve.

In our efforts to understand what this all means, we’ve created illusory constructs that compartmentalize our existence here on Earth. When you categorize something you detach it from the source. And instead of these categories bringing us to a deeper level of understanding — more often than not — it drives people further from the truth.

Commerce thrives on categories, but categories kill art. What art needs to survive is community.

Just several days ago marked the 2-year anniversary, or #BAMiversary, of my essay: On Why Jazz Isn’t Cool Anymore. It was the impetus behind the subsequent Black American Music Movement. Aided by The Ancestors and many supporters, my desire has been to restore what has been lost in the Black community due to categorizations like “Jazz.” Unlike Jazz, Black American Music is not a category. It is an acknowledgement of our ancestors, without whom, art means nothing.

#BAM is not divisive; it seeks to unify a music and a people who are in need of connecting with their true nature. Jazz is about music, but #BAM is about life. When Black America, as well as other indigenous cultures, repairs what has been broken, we will witness a shift in our global consciousness, and reclaim our Human Nature.


Let the healing begin…


— Nicholas Payton aka The Creator of the #BAM Movement