Demi Lovato just acknowledged what every modern non-Black singer should acknowledge: their success has been built on the backs of Black women.
In a personal letter published on Vogue, Demi wrote,
“I grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and other soulful singers, but those two Black women, in particular, shaped me into the vocalist I am. If you look at my life, everything that I have — money, success, a roof over my head — it’s because of the inspiration those Black women gave me. I continue to be constantly inspired by people of color today.”
“So here I am, sitting in a home that I was able to afford with the money that I have from singing, while people of color are fearing for their lives every day. I realized this was a lightning bolt jolting through my body, where I was reminded of my privilege. I felt an overwhelming responsibility to help spread awareness about this injustice.”
Like most non-Black people, Demi knew she wanted to help but didn’t know exactly how to go about it. She wanted to make sure that she wasn’t just a performative ally and that she was actually making a difference.
“Like a lot of people, I didn’t know what to do. All I knew was that I hated that I shared the same skin color as the people accused of committing heinous crimes against Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many, many other Black lives.”
She ended up taking time to reeducate herself and learn how to truly become an advocate.
Demi is one of the few celebrities who has continued to speak out about police brutality. She uses her social media platforms to post videos, photos, and more to encourage her followers to stay informed and get involved. On her recent 28th birthday, she used the day to honor Breonna Taylor and launched a campaign on Propeller for her fans to submit letters to Louisville elected officials, sign petitions, and donate money.
It’s refreshing to see an artist like Demi acknowledge just how much of their career they owe to Black women.
Nearly all of modern-day music has been inspired, impacted, or stolen from Black musicians. And it’s something that the music industry doesn’t acknowledge nearly enough, if at all.
We’ve seen artists like Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, and so many more toy with the line between cultural appreciation and appropriation on more than one occasion. And yet, many musicians fail to give credit where credit is due.
But recognition is the first step. And while it shouldn’t take senseless murders of innocent Black people to inspire gratitude, it’s certainly better late than never.