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Copycats or inspired artists?
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Activity 3

Copycats or inspired artists?

Group 1: Cissy Houston about Elvis

The Sweet Inspirations band (from left to right): Cissy Houston (Whitney Houston’s mother), 
Myrna Smith, Sylvia Shemwell and Estelle Brown, 1968.

Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll”, was sometimes accused of being a racist and ripping off Black artists, especially Chuck Berry. But in this video, Cissy Houston tells about her collaboration with Elvis and how respectful he was.

Group 2: Bruno Mars accused of cultural appropriation

Seren Sensei accused Bruno Mars of cultural appropriation, that is profiting off of traditionally black music, while not being an African American himself (he’s from the Philippines and Puerto Rico). In this report on CNN, the presenter and her three guests discuss the relevance of that accusation in particular and of the debate as a whole.

Group 3: Keith Richards inducts Chuck Berry into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame

Chuck Berry and Keith Richards on stage, 1986.

Keith Richards is the lead guitarist of British band the Rolling Stones. While always acknowledging his influences in African American music, he also contributed to forgotten bluesmen (such as Willie Dixon or Howlin’ Wolf) being rediscovered in America and finally getting the recognition and commercial success they deserved. In 1986, he was asked to induct, that is to introduce, Chuck Berry to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honorary institution that recognizes the most influential artists on the development of rock and roll.


  • anthem /ˈænθəm/ / hymn /ˈhɪm/ (n.)
  • tribute / homage (n.)
  • circa /ˈs3ːrkə/ / around (prep.)
  • acknowledge /ˌækˈnɒlɪdʒ/ / recognize (v.)
  • profit off of something (v.)
  • relevance / pertinence (v.)
  • rip off someone / steal from someone (v.)
  • set a record straight / re-establish the truth (exp.)
Voir les réponses

You are in charge of one video.

Workbook p. 37

Select one of the artists presented in the small text or the caption of your group. Look for information on the Internet to be able to present him / her.

a. Watch the video. Be ready to sum it up.

b. What makes this artist special?

c. What is his link with African-American music?
Useful vocabulary: As I watched the video, I found that …
He looks / sounds so (+ adj.)… He is / was such (+ n.)...

Let's talk this out!


Share your findings with your classmates and learn about the other artists.

a. What do they have in common? Which of these artists do you prefer? Why?

b. To what extent are they influential to American music?

Useful vocabulary: I really like…
It’s a difficult choice to make…
I can’t help thinking that...
He is a major influence because…

From French to English


La traduction de « tellement »

  • So + adj. (= si)
    Ex: “It was so loud!” (Chuck Berry on Keith Richards’ music)
  • Such + a / an + n. (= un tel / une telle)
    Ex: “He was such a beautiful man.” (James Brown on his friend Elvis)
  • So much (+ indénomb.)
    So many (+ dénomb.)
    (= beaucoup)

Exercices p. 9

Let's learn!


Classify all the artists you’ve discovered so far into 3 categories (an artist can appear in more than one).


Justify your choice, and find other artists to be added in those categories. Then, in groups, pick one category and say as many things as possible about it.

Over to you!

Be a karaoke singer!

Let’s use what you have learnt in !

Choose a karaoke song and record your best performance (you can change the style and just read the lyrics along with the music).

Blue Suede Shoes (Elvis)
Killing Me Softly (The Fugees)
Respect (Aretha Franklin)
I Feel Good (James Brown)
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