Let me pose a question to you all. Under what criteria or definition does an artist become influential (or even popular for that matter)? Is it their number of sales in any given year, or how high a certain song charts on the radio, or even how well people respond to songs in their own personal settings as the years progress? Is it how many awards they’ve won, or how much a song ‘blows up’ on social media? Is it their ability to have their music placed in TV shows and movies, or their songs become theme songs for various ceremonies across the years? Or is it their vocal prowess alone, and their ability to sing high, sing powerfully, sing with heart and determination? Or it could just be their natural talent as a songwriter, or even the fact that they are a multi-instrumentalist. Whatever the case may be, and whatever yardstick or measurement people use to determine someone’s popularity or influence in society altogether, there is something that still remains to be true, regardless of criteria. That a good artist is a good artist is a good artist, and no matter if they are ‘liked’ or not, one can generally appreciate someone’s craft, and people are usually on the money in their deciphering about who is popular and who is influential. Because at the end of the day, influence goes beyond popularity, and speaks to the heart of issues relevant to the people of today. People can all of a sudden, become famous overnight and popular through TikTok, Instagram and Youtube- anyone who’s somewhat tech-savvy can self-declare that they are a muso/artist, and record something on the fly…but that doesn’t mean that they actually are. They may be popular and enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame (figuratively or even literally), but to be influential means an artist has to deliver something that goes beyond the surface, and hit a listener in a way that their music impacts them not only for a little while, but really challenges the way that the person on the other end- listeners, critics, consumers, and the rest of them, sees society, music, and the interweaving of how music can impact someone’s life for the better, even if it’s just this one song that really changes the trajectory of someone’s life.