You Betta Sing!
Written by Charles M. Anderson | @Chacarlo
Time has become a blur causing all the days to appear the same. The weekends are just not as cool as they once were. Nevertheless, we all have arrived at that time of the year where we celebrate the completion of chapters of so many lives across the nation. ‘Tis the season of graduation. It is that time of the year where we honor the educational journey of beloved friends and family members.
There are those of us who are accustomed to singing the words of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” can be heard from the audience. If they are lucky there may even be an appointed singer to lead the way, but what if those voices don’t rise as high as we need them to go or the singer’s voice is lost at sea? It’s never easy to tell someone that they cannot sing because it’s very personal. A lot of times when people sing they are coming from a vulnerable place. Branford Jones is here to guide those wandering voices back to the proper vocal keys, through his They Have The Range platform that celebrates the art of true musicality.
Branford started They Have the Range in 2016 on Facebook with two posts going viral. One was a video of one of the Pace Sisters singing at Cracker Barrel. The other video was an Asian choir singing in their native tongue, “Totals Praise” by Richard Smallwood, in a Black church. The goal was to create an audience that was different and shared all types of music for Black Folks. Mr. Jones gave birth to the company because he didn’t see what he wanted to see. Although we have great black singers around the world, unfortunately they are not properly promoted like they should. Branford also wanted to disrupt the narrative that people wanted to hear R&B from White people and not Black people. What makes this vocal platform unique from others is that it doesn’t dismiss participants after featuring them. They will be seen and recognized again. People from competition shows are usually not seen again beyond clips on the internet. When an artist gets posted on They Have the Range, they become part of a community. It is a place for the art and appreciation of great music, musicality, and singing. The panoply of singers featured come in every race, shade, gender, and sexual orientation, and can be found belting out all types of music genres. By being outside of the music industry machine Branford has been able to provide another avenue for exposure for independent artists. A complete outsider, Branford has been able to garner the attention of singers, musicians, and producers around the world as well as fans of great musicality.
They Have The Range ‘s logo equal parts affirmation as it is promise
With most social media accounts and influencers, I’ve grown used to seeing a persona; a face. That is not the case for this account and I was curious to learn more about that. According to Branford, “It’s about the voice. It’s not about me. It’s about the art and the singers. You really shouldn’t care to see me but to be exposed to good singers and music. [I’m] not here to be seen but to preserve the art.”
In June of 2017 the account was at two thousand followers on Instagram and 200 likes on Facebook. Being let go from a startup and losing his job allowed Branford to reflect. With his back against the wall he learned how to level up with every iteration of his company. He took a month to focus on himself. Branford shared that after that month he gave himself a pep talk in a similar style as the Issa character on HBO’s Insecure and decided to move full steam ahead. Alongside his success also came a lot of rejection. For instance, after four months into a project with a major network he later saw the campaign launched without him. When he followed up the response he received was that not enough people in the office knew about his account. Mind you, at this time he had surpassed 400,000 followers on Instagram. Despite feeling embarrassed, humiliated, unappreciated, and even stupid, Branford decided to push through and persevere…