Don’t judge me for this, but disco has a special place in my heart. Not necessarily the “Disco Duck” variety. (I have taste, after all.) I’m talking about the legendary songs to which we would “Freak Out” under a glittering disco ball.
Nile Rodgers was co-creator with Bernard Edwards of the epic band Chic, founded 40 years ago, the source of a lot of the disco we still hear today. He’ll be inducted this April into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for creating “inimitable guitar riffs fundamental to hip-hop, rock and electronic dance music.”
And he gives the credit to his public-school education. “I learned to read music in regular old public school,” Rodgers said in a recent NPR interview.
He revealed that his parents—who had him as teenagers—were heroin addicts and moved “from place to place to place to place.” Whatever public school he wound up attending, he“could always fit in.” Private music lessons were not possible. But that was OK, because he tried out every instrument his schools offered, finally settling on guitar because he loved the Beatles.
This exposure sparked Rodgers’ curiosity and desire to learn more about music, ultimately leading to a prolific career. The schools that served as his sanctuary, the one dependable force in an unstable young life, nurtured his artistry and gave him the tools to be a force in the music industry for four decades.
He said in the NPR interview that when he performs these days, young people often ask, “Hey mister, do you really know how to play that thing?” They’ve become so accustomed to artists who don’t actually play instruments that they can’t tell. And unfortunately, many of them probably attend schools without the resources to fund music Disco music, ESSA and your public school - Lily's Blackboard: