by: Sanjeev Wignarajah

Writer Sanjeev Wignaraj reviews Michelle Shocked’s Keynote titled “Musical Chairs: A Survivor’s C.A.S.E. for Artists’ Rights Now!”

Michelle Shocked, introduced as “The Texas-born traveling troubadour” discussed topics that are relevant to artists and performers in the music industry, consent and tech disruptions in the music realm. She mentioned how she recorded a Gospel Set at the Telluride Festival and later found out that someone recorded her song despite signing a contract that explicitly said, ‘No recording allowed.’ Her manager had told her they might have created some archival recording of the performance but was surprised at the sophistication and quality of what they captured.

“I discovered not only do they have an archive. They had a state-of-the-art 48 track digital recording and Eight camera angles of video recording”

Shocked also spoke about her experiences at the Occupy Wall Street encampments in Los Angeles

“We were evicted in November 2011 but following that eviction I got very active in a foreclosure committee looking at the fraud that the banks had engaged in to cheat people out of their hard-one homes,” she said. “In the course of working for that foreclosure committee I learned a lot about the technical aspects of the mortgage fraud that the banks had created this thing called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System)”

It was mind-blowing to hear Shocked’s perspective on what the banks had done with the system based on her experience working in the foreclosure committee. She also touched on her art and activism such as a song about a young Black man, a graffiti artist, who was choked to death under police custody over graffiti on a New York City subway wall.