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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 13:54 GMT
Craig David told to lose guitarist
Craig David
Craig David: Told he has to lose white guitarist
British pop star Craig David has been told he should ditch his white guitar player Fraser T Smith if he wants to appeal to black music fans.

David, who recently released his second album Slicker Than The Average, says he was told the news on his current promotional visit to the US.

He was told the presence of Smith, the mainstay of his backing band, may alienate black music fans.

Smith has been playing with the 21-year-old star for the last two years.


His marketing people are telling him things, and he would be stupid not to listen to them

Toussaint Davy
Touch magazine
Black executives at radio networks David played at told him that he would sell more records if he played with an all-black band.

'Sense of racism'

David told BBC Radio Five Live he found it "disappointing that there was still this slight sense of racism going on over there".

He said he would not dump Smith - a close friend as well as a member of his band - to please black music executives and make David easier to package.

He would not make any further comment to BBC News Online.

Craig David
Craig David is pushing hard to break the US
Smith is refusing to be drawn into the debate.

In the US, urban music - rap, hip-hop and modern soul - is aimed predominantly at black listeners.

Commentators in the UK say the request is typical of the segregated US music industry.

Toussaint Davy, the editor of British hip-hop magazine Touch, told BBC News Online David's reaction was admirable, but he may lose fans.

"Any artist that goes over to the States trying to push black music is going to face a struggle if they're not black," he said.

'Compromise'

"It's hard to know how it's going to affect him. His first album did go platinum over there.

"But his marketing people are telling him things, and he would be stupid not to listen to them. Everyone has to compromise."

He added: "Look at what's happened to Robbie Williams. He's making anodyne ballads so Americans will take notice of him."

Some urban radio stations believe black audiences will not listen to artists who play in mixed race bands.

Fifty years ago, legendary jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong was criticised by black music critics for playing with a white trombonist.

In 1994 south London trio Eternal received criticism by some US stations for having a white member, Louise Nurding.

Nurding later left Eternal, amid rumours - which were denied by the act's management - she was dumped to improve the group's chances in the US.

See also:

17 Dec 01 | Entertainment
24 May 01 | Entertainment
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