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Aspiring IU musicians get lessons in ‘Funkology’ from Bootsy Collins

Mar 21, 2018

When funk music pioneer William “Bootsy” Collins strolled into the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center this week, he was greeted by a roomful of Indiana University Bloomington students excitedly bonding over one of his songs playing overhead.

The question-and-answer session happened before Collins’ “Funkology” lecture Tuesday at IU Cinema alongside Scot Brown, professor of history and African American studies at UCLA. The event opened with the IU Soul Revue performing hits associated with Collins’ own collection as well as his work with funk legends James Brown and George Clinton.

Bootsy Collins poses with students
Bootsy Collins cheers on student musicians

Chaz Mottinger, IU Communications

The passion Collins saw in the crowd of students clearly meant a lot to him.

“Being around youngsters just gives me so much energy, man,” he said.

Throughout the night, Collins passed on words of encouragement to the IU students who’d come to see him. He told them to take advantage of the opportunities IU offers while they’re here. 

“Until you get out of IU, you don’t realize how blessed you are to be here,” he said. “Don’t take it for granted.”

Collins’ down-to-earth lecture included his elation at discovering that, years ago, he could actually be paid for his musical work. Today, he is most famous for his work with James Brown in the 1970s, his work with George Clinton’s Parliament, and his bass guitar and vocal performances.

Collins’ easy presence gave sophomore Jada Lucas a sense of the power of being able to hear the funk pioneer speak in person.

“I think the diversity factor of it, having such a prominent black artist come up here, is such a big deal, and it exposes us to parts of the world we’ve never seen before,” she said.

Each student’s question was so informed, it was clear the students had a real desire to learn more about the industry and Bootsy Collins himself.

After his lecture, Collins sat in on an IU Soul Revue rehearsal, where students performed for him and heard his feedback.

Junior Peyton Womock has been a fan of Collins since he was a kid, after listening to the legend’s music with his dad. He even got to perform a saxophone solo during the rehearsal.

“It was a little bit of nerves, but at the same time it was amazing because this was my opportunity to show what I love to do,” Womock said.

Collins wrapped up his night on the Bloomington campus with advice for the hopeful future musicians who stood before him.

“The more you give of yourself, the more you’re going to get back,” he said. “If it’s something you know you want to do, put it all in.”

Collins’ visit to the Bloomington campus was presented by the Archives of African American Music and Culture with sponsorship from the Office of the Provost; the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs; the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center; the African American Arts Institute; the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies; and IU Cinema.

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