Open Letter to Maya Angelou

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Dear Maya,

I must admit when I first heard of your passing, I was shocked.

Though I am not sure why.

What I mean is that although you lived a life that is equivalent to two, or maybe three full lives, there was something about you that seemed indestructible.

I would not have been a bit surprised if you would have lived passed 100.

I remember watching the TV version of your first autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

I was mesmerized. Your story is my story.

You see my brother and I were abandoned by our parents and sent to live with our father’s mother in rural Mississippi.

Although my grandmother was the symbol of strength in the face of crushing challenges, I still carry the feeling of inadequacy with me into my middle age.

Unlike you, I have yet to repair the relationship with my mother.

As a child growing up in Mississippi, thoughts and memories of my mother haunted me.

I often daydreamed that my mother would suddenly appear and take me and my

brother home with her to Illinois where we would live happily ever after…..

My how I envied you and your brother Bailey when you finally got to go live with your mother in the north (St. Louis)!

Just like you, I always felt that I was the ugly duckling born of a beautiful mother.

My dearest Maya,

Although there are many parallels in our lives, please know that if I live to be three hundred years old, I will never possess the intestinal fortitude to endure and survive the many “tests” that you have been given:

Rape..

A teenaged mom…

Jim Crow…

But then again, If God meant for those adversities to be my destiny then I guess I would have had to endure.

But what I do know is that although I may have endured and survived, I would have never accomplished what you have:

Cabaret entertainer…

Civil Rights organizer…

Writer…

Poet…

Television writer, Director…

Actress…

Professor…

Legend…

Maya, you are truly a phenomenal woman that no fashion model could ever compete.

I love you Maya!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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R&B-The Music, The Message, The Magic

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Hi Readers,

It is that time again. Last June, I expounded a lot on the style and forms of Black music.

This year, I want to explore the message of R&B and its importance to the African American community.

Recently I was watching a series called Unsung on TV One-a station oriented towards the Black community.

One of my favorite R&B groups was featured-The Manhattans. They scored big in the late

70’s with classic hits such as “There’s no me without you”, “Kiss and say goodbye”, and “Shining Star”.

In all of these ballads, the woman is exalted, treasured and loved.

Somehow (with the exception of Baby Face and a few others) the contemporary romantic Soul ballad has become raunchy akin to its rap counterpart.

Instead of being exalted and put on a pedestal, women are referred to as jeeps, and other inanimate objects.

For instance, the R. Kelly and Notorious B.I.G. collaboration-“You must be Use to Me Spending” is a prime example of the declining positive influence of R&B music.

Please understand readers that I applaud the artistry of rap and hip hop. I just don’t always agree with its message.

Unfortunately rap and hip hop has gotten away from the positive images and messages of the late 1970’s and mid 1980’s.

It seems that the classic message of love and unity that was a cornerstone of Black popular music has been corrupted by the marriage of rap and R&B and the materialistic values that it has come to embrace.

If we are to ever sustain a vibrant community where love is the central theme, how can contemporary R&B songs such as “You Make Me Want to Leave the One I’m With” contribute to healthy Black relationships?

If we gauge the health of our community by the quality and current state of our music-then we are in T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

There may be some who would criticize our balladeers for displaying a great sensitivity towards our women.

Baby Face’s “Whip Appeal”, The O’Jay’s “We Cried Together”, The Isley Brother’s “Living for the Love of You” and “Hello It’s Me” are prime examples of the stability of Black love.

By stability, I mean these men prove disprove the myths and ideas about what qualities constitute a “Real” man.

Take note: If all of our male singers and lovers have negative and hateful messages-then our women will in turn become hateful and negative.

They are only responding in turn to the treatment they are receiving.

And readers, haven’t we had enough of the battle of the sexes between Black men and women?

Think Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale.

Critics of Black popular culture always convey that hip-hop is another form of Black cultural expression.

If that is true I guess hip hop chronicles the breakdown of the elements that has sustained our communities through the many obstacles we have faced in this country as second class citizens.

Just imagine if the singers who have often acted as our great love poets would make a conscious return to the great standards set by the mighty balladeers of our past.

Just imagine how far our community would move forward in a direction that will sustain us for generations to come.

Well, that is all for now readers. I am glad to be back after a long hiatus.

Until next time….

 

From a Lofty Perch: Bill Cosby’s Bird’s Eye View of Black America

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Cosby Cos,

How could you?

“Let’s not go into a racial discussion unless we really have something there.”

Hello readers,

These were Bill Cosby’s words concerning the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial.

I must confess, I wasn’t totally surprised-given Bill Cosby’s bird’s eye view of Black America from his lofty perch.

Don’t get me wrong, I have great admiration and respect for Bill Cosby.

I am not calling the man a sellout by any means.

As far as I know, Cos-in addition to Oprah-is one of the largest benefactors of our Historically Black colleges and universities.

Lest we forget, Cos contributed money to Spike Lee to finish his epic Malcolm-X after the studios pulled the plug.

In addition, Cos was also one of the earliest contributors to the Blaxploitation genre.

He gave much needed funding to Melvin Van Peebles to finish his film Sweet Back’s Bad Ass Revenge…..The film that started the rage of Black men taking their revenge on the White Man!!!!!

I also respect Cos because the ’70’s movies he made were family oriented and never depicted African Americans in a derogatory manner.

What gets to me about Cos is his reproachful manner when it comes to African Americans.

I will never forget Cosby’s burning anger after he made his famous pound cake speech at Howard University.

In a sense I could understand his outrage.

I especially understand it in the context of the current climate of Black America.

  • The nightly newscast in Chicago details several murders or injuries of Young African Americans by gun violence at the hands of young gang members.
  • Black mothers are the head of household in the majority of African American homes.
  • African Americans of varying ages make up most of the cases in recent AIDS/HIV diagnosis.

It would appear that the African American community is hell bent on self-destruction.

However, Cosby’s anger is misplaced.

I get his sense of outrage and disappointment because of Black America’s failure to take up the mantle of leadership and gain prosperity after the Civil Rights Movement.

Hey Cos, consider this:

The dismantling of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement-especially during the Reagan era.

Not to mention Bill Clinton’s cleverly cloaked ambivalence towards African American progress.

While I considered Bill Clinton a centrist at best who tried in vain to toe the line straight down the middle, it was his support and passage of the welfare reform act that I found most reprehensible that possibly trapped more African Americans in a hopeless cycle of poverty and despair.

Also consider this Cos…….

The Civil Rights Act helped some African Americans to gain passage into the middle class-however precariously.

I say yeah for those who managed to stay there.

Were they able to pass the wealth on to their offspring?

You know-how they do it in the White community!!!!!

It’s called generational wealth.

If so yeah!!!!

Now consider the vast majority of those who were not able to gain access to the middle class as a result of the Civil Rights Movement.

Especially consider the early 1970’s.

While the laws may have been in place to offer African Americans protection, laws don’t have the power to wipe out discrimination, hatred and fear from people’s hearts.

So my dear Cos, while you have the right to be angry-make sure your anger is directed at the right target.

I am not saying that some African Americans are not at fault.

Consider the generational gap……

African Americans are part of the human family.

Just like white yuppie youths were alienated from their parents, young African Americans are alienated from their parents and ancestors.

I guess if I want to play the blame game on the failure of African Americans it would start with our warriors and veterans of the Civil Rights Movement!!!!

Yes, you heard me right.

Maybe they didn’t know that we would overcome.

But, if they had a vision, then why didn’t they create a roadmap to help those who would come after?

Why don’t you create a roadmap cos?

One last disturbing thought……

What really makes me sad and a little angry is the belief that Zimmerman did not act out of xenophobic racist beliefs.

Consider the death of your own son at the hands of a white racist dog!!!!!

It seems right now Cos you are waging a one man war with Black America.

Can’t wait to see the last man standing.

Until next time…….

Drugs, Demons, & Drags: Flipping Over America’s First Black TV Superstar

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Hi Readers,

While I consider myself an avid reader of the Black experience, I particularly love reading African American biographies.

I just finished reading a newly released autobiography about legendary comedian Flip Wilson.

In my tween years, I remember the comic legend for his outlandish Geraldine character.

Remember Geraldine?

“The Devil made me do it”.

Lol.

Compared to today’s Black comics-Black and White, Flip cut a wholesome figure.

He was safe…….

Especially Geraldine

A la Madea…..

A La Bill Cosby….

But oh readers, if only you knew.

Let’s rip the mask off of Geraldine and reveal the pain and flawed Mr. Wilson-first name Clerow!!!!!!

His seriously “humble” beginnings….

While we Americans love a good Horatio Alger rag to riches tale, Flip’s tale is more like “Hags to Bitches”!!!!!!!!!

Let’s ponder for a moment……

Think of some raw comics who use their life experiences as fodder for their acts.

According to Flip’s biography, his mother abandoned the family.

Flip’s father was left to care for over a dozen children of varying ages with Flip either being the youngest or one of the youngest.

Apparently, his father-chronically unemployed, left the children to fend for themselves.

As a result, young Flip was fanned out to abusive relatives and hellish foster homes.

From being forced to wait to have a meal to severe beatings which left lifelong scars, I am astounded that comedy and the desire for laughter could have manifested itself in little Flip.

Escape

In an attempt to escape the slums of his native Jersey City, Flip lied about his age and joined the United States Air Force as a way out.

The one poignant issue that stood out for me in this point in his life is that he was still faithful about sending money to his abusive family and the man he thought was his biological father!!!!!

Flip, who was apparently the darkest of all of his siblings was criticized constantly by his dad for his deep dark complexion.

His older sister revealed in an offhand manner that “pops” was not his father.

Thus explains the interest a family friend took in Flip-his real father!!!!

From a predictable tour of duty marked by the “required” racism he faced (this was in the 1950’s), Flip started to realize his gift and passion for comedy…..

Paying those dues

Bill Cosby…

When we think about the comic giants of the 1970’s Bill Cosby is right in the mix!!!

Cos, it seems was the prototype-the goal every comic worth his weight in ambition and talent tried to emulate.

And believe me, Flip had that ambition baby!!!!

For years, he traveled the chitlin circuit enduring hunger and homelessness.

Heck, he even gave himself a fifteen year plan.

Fifteen years?

I would have probably given up after fifteen months.

Readers, can you seriously see yourself in an unstable career trying to battle it out for fifteen years before deciding to walk away?

Still pressing on after much heartache, the Flipper finally got a chance.

Enter Redd Foxx…

Thanks to perhaps the greatest Black comedian of all times and beyond, Foxx on live television proclaimed Flip as the funniest comedian alive!!!!!!

Right on Time

After Foxx’s endorsement, Flip got his chance to be seen by a national crossover audience.

Thanks to a little luck, business savvy and perseverance, the Flip Wilson show was born.

The Flaws and the Demons

I was mildly surprised but not totally devastated to realize that Flip was human….

He was a mildly neglectful father who involved his young children in helping him to package his drugs.

His kids would all form an assembly line and help dad roll his marijuana!!!!

Quality Time…..

After seeing the writing on the wall due to the volatile nature of the early 1970’s, Flip decided to end the show to spend time with his children.

Daddy Dearest

It would seem that being the product of a broken family, broken community, and broken foster care system, father of the year would have been Flip’s blind ambition.

Maybe in his warped sense of reality he was…..

As his kids grew older, he had a schizophrenic relationship with them which continued towards the end of Flip’s life.

A Tragic Figure

While Flip is one of the few comic legends that I admire and respect, he will always appear as a tragic figure to me.

I am not judging.

I am not blaming Flip.

Imagine walking in Flip’s shoes and enduring the sick racism, and abuse from family and enemies.

It is good that he had the gift of laughter and the endurance and desire to bring it to the masses.

What if he didn’t have the gift or desire?

I hate to think of the alternative.

Bitter Black man?

Turning his rage in on himself, his family, and community?

With these odds, maybe Flip isn’t a tragic figure after all but a replica of endurance and the best of the Black experience.

Hats off to Geraldine.

Eat that Madea!!!!

Until next time…..

Black Music Tribute-R. Kelly and the R&B Revival

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Hello readers,

Thank you for joining me again as we cap our tribute to Black music month.

In this post we will explore R. Kelly’s influence on classic Soul/R&B.

When R Kelly exploded on the music scene in the early 1990’s he was a bona fide player of the New Jack Swing set dominated by Teddy Riley.

Kelly and his former band mates Public Announcement found moderate success with their hit Vibe from the moderately successful Born Into the 90’s album.

Enter 12 Play….

Mega hits Your Body’s Callin and Bump N Grind are Marvin Gaye meets the bad boys of New Jack.

Kelly extends Marvin’s sexual indulgences on these cuts.

Whereas Marvin on Let’s Get it On and I Want You offers titillating glimpses into his sexual fantasies, R Kelly on 12 Play, TP-2.Com and TP3 Reloaded takes listeners a little further to the gratifying acts of sexual fulfillment.

Wow!!!!

Honestly readers as the 90’s progressed I can’t think of any Black male R&B singer whose creative output was as prolific as R. Kelly.

In addition to his productivity was his range.

By range I mean Kelly has the skills to mix it up.

I Believe I Can Fly….

Years after its initial recording, I still get goose bumps when I hear this song.

No kidding. I feel 10 feet tall and that I possess the strength of character to accomplish any task that I set my mind to!!!

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Kelly’s varied career is his generosity and unique ability to remix and revive.

For Example: Janet Jackson’s Anytime, Anyplace.

I love the theme of sexual liberation on this cut.

I always felt that this song could be the anthem for introverts who have a strong inner freak dying to be released!!!!!

Skirt around my waist, face against the wall….

A la the love maestro Barry White.

Revival……

Perhaps the most stunning revival in R&B Music besides Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing comeback was the strong resurgence of Ronald Isley-the original king of cool.

I always knew of the fantastic Islay brothers and love their romantic hits such as whose That Lady?, Voyage to Atlantis, and Living For The Love of You.

Timeless!!!!!

Kelly’s teaming with Ronald on the Down low as well as the remix was phenomenal.

This pairing only goes to show the longevity and timelessness of R&B-especially in the romantic department.

It is debatable in some segments that Ronald Isley never fell off of the music radar.

Be that as it may, because of the R, fans and critics alike can agree that Ronald is a relevant figure in contemporary R&B.

The infamous Mr. Big character has taken on a life of its own.

Ronald can ride the waves of R&B success for years to come on the strength of this creation alone.

The King of Pop…..

On numerous occasions R. Kelly has waxed elegantly and poetically about his love and admiration for Michael Jackson.

You Are Not Alone is Kelly’s respect, love and influence come to life.

This mega hit debuted at number one on the charts where it occupied the top spot for an insane amount of time!!!!!

Again as with Ronald, it can be argued by some that Michael certainly never fell off of the musical radar.

(It is definitely argued by me).

However, compared to Thriller sales, it would appear that Michael experienced some career setbacks.

Ridiculous…

Why?

Post Thriller– Michael still sold albums in the millions to sellout concerts around the world.

Enter R. Kelly….

Readers, as you may well remember, Michael and his career was still reeling from the unsubstantiated charges of sexual misconduct.

After the success of Michael and Kelly’s collaboration, the naysayers as well as loyal and lukewarm fans alike seemed to agree that Michael still had the staying power after all.

Why do I contend that R Kelly is the savior of R&B?

First I want to clarify that R&B was never in any danger.

I want to enumerate on a point I made earlier in the post about other male R&B singers.

There was Will Downing, Keith Washington, Freddie Jackson and Johnny Gil.

Though talented as these brothers may be, they fail to chart a strong and lasting presence on the R&B scene.

Imagine contemporary R&B without R. Kelly.

Yeah we may have the young bloods such as Usher, Chris Brown, and Avant.

And they are a truly bunch of talented brothers.

But still…..

When we examine the pantheons of Soul/R&B and come up with Marvin Gaye, AL Green, Barry White, Teddy Pendergrass, the above singers seem to lack something.

R Kelly is a direct descendant of the ilk of these Soul legends.

Although a few out there may contribute Kelly’s longevity to his ability to adapt to the hip hop scene (Kelly once declared himself an R&B thug) I beg to differ.

In my estimation his coupling with rap and hip hop gave it that classic Soul flavor and did a lot to rescue the genre from being relegated to a one dimensional dinosaur.

It appears as if the R has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

Of course when I think of R&B there’s Marvin and then there is R Kelly.

Long live the king!!!!

That concludes this tribute to Black music even though it was extended way past June-Black music month.

Thanks again readers for joining me on this journey.

Until next time…..

Black Music Tribute-70’s R&B Divas

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Hi Readers,

Thank you for joining me again as we continue to pay tribute to Black music.

Why a tribute to the R&B divas of the 1970’s?

In today’s entertainment world, female singers so often use their bodies and sex appeal to sell their music that I truly believe there is a need to honor those true blue divas of yesterday so today’s music consumers can have an idea of true raw talent that can sell without sex.

Please don’t get me wrong; I know that there are some talented contemporary R&B singers out there.

Indie Arie

Mary J Blige

Faith Evans

Alicia Keys

Jill Scott

Erykah Badu

Toni Braxton

Forgive me if I missed a truly talented sister.

While these are some real talented ladies who continue the tradition of Black women singers of the Soul/R&B ilk, I believe that the legacy of the Black woman in music has been tainted.

Nicki Minaj, Lil Kim, Lil Mo, etc.-while contributing to Black music, represent the excessiveness and over the top spectacle that has come to represent the current(Black) music scene.

Although I am well aware that we now live in an era where visual appeal has unfortunately caused talent to take a back seat, the strength and meaning of our music has become poorer and lacking.

I distinctly remember a couple of years ago when both Indie Arie and Alicia Keys were both tied for best albums that year.

At several awards shows Alicia Keys beat out Indie Arie.

Note that I love Alicia and I think she is a force to be reckoned with.

But I was left wandering if Alicia’s Bi-racial heritage -which is more acceptable than Indie’s strong Black features-, played a role.

To some in the African American community, this was a grave injustice with the potential to really split us along lines of skin color.

But anyway readers, I digress.

In this post I want to truly honor and remember those “real” sassy powerful singers who left a legacy for our young sisters to emulate and hopefully continue.

Queen of Soul

What is it about Aretha Franklin that is still inspiring to today’s youth in spite of the overabundance of readily available raw sexuality?

Well let’s take a look at the corpus of Aretha’s work.

Respect….

Aretha recorded this song in an era when dispossessed groups such as African Americans and women were asserting their value and worth to American society.

Unfortunately, these groups are still fighting on some level for bona fide respect on all levels: economic, political, beauty, history, etc.

Think…..

Wow, what an impressive manifesto!!!!

MS Franklin has no problem with letting her man or any man know that she will not be a willing doormat for abuse-mental, physical or otherwise.

Natural Woman….

Another manifesto for the feminist age.

Bold and brazen.

This song imbues women with the confidence to express to men there true feelings without fear of rejection.

Chain of Fools….

I don’t know about you readers, but heaven knows that I have had my experiences of bad relationships where I have played the fool.

Props to the Queen for leading the way for me to reminisce and reflect on my foolish days!!!!

The Empress of Soul

Gladys Knight, like Aretha is timeless.

I swear Gladys still speaks to my heart and my many life experiences.

In her autobiography Between Every Line of Pain and Glory, she writes that she was hesitant to sing the hit song If I were Your Woman because it was sung from the perspective of the other Woman.

The song was a reflection of the tenor of the times-the brazen feminist.

Kudos to Gladys for highlighting the sensitivity and depths of a woman’s love.

Neither One of Us…

This is perhaps my favorite Gladys Knight song.

When I hear this song today, I am reminded of strong willed women who offered men the stability of their love.

This rings true in Gladys’s signature hit: Midnight Train to Georgia

Here is a woman who makes a promise to stand by her man through success and failure; whether in the big city or the country.

They don’t make them like that anymore….

Patti Labelle….

I have always loved and appreciated Patti’s approach to life.

She is a mixture of downhome and flamboyance.

Patti can mix it up with royalty and the average Joe!!!

Most compelling for me is her life as a survivor.

According to her autobiography Don’t Block the Blessings, Patti has survived a stunning number of personal blows.

She has lost all of her siblings to cancer in addition to being a surrogate mother to her sibling’s children.

And still, she is like a phoenix rising from the ashes to create and remake herself anew each decade for another generation.

I was too young to remember Patti in her Labelle days.

I remember hearing Patti for the first time in the 1980’s starting with her hit single If Only You Knew.

When I finally got to match the song with the artist, I was as usual pleasantly surprised to discover that she had a long and varied career.

After that initial discovery Patti has been soaring ever since…

As an avid lover of Black R&B Soul music, I am grateful for the legacies of Aretha, Gladys and Patti.

The body of music left by these three women offer a glimpse into the world at the time when they were struggling to be true to themselves and contend with a world that was bent on denying Black women their humanity.

In a recent conversation with a friend she mentioned that neither of these women were sex symbols.

If judging by today’s standards then I guess not.

Her statement was very poignant in that these women struggled to create their art in an era where Black women were assigned to a menial level in where they were tolerated.

In spite of the meanness of the times, all three rose above the negative fray on the sheer force of their talent and are enduring superstars.

If we are being honest with ourselves, the R&B singers of today with an exception of a very few, would be hard pressed to follow the examples of these three superstars.

Join me later readers when we cap our Black music series with R Kelly’s place in our musical history.

Until next time….

Black Music Tribute-Blue Eyed Soul

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Hi Readers,

Thanks for joining me again as we continue our tribute to Black music.

As a 42 year old woman with a southern heritage, Blues was the dominant genre that appealed to my fellow Mississippians-especially the older adults.

However, classic 70’s Soul was the music that fed me spiritually.

Forgive me; I know I must sound like a broken record because I have waxed poetically about my love of this genre of music along with some of the most esteemed soul singers.

While I love and will continue to honor and praise iconic African American R&B legends, I want to give credit to white singers who made (and continue to make) valuable contributions to Soul music.

That something in R&B which sets your soul on fire has the power to transcend race as evidenced by the vast number of white Soul artists past and present.

Readers…….

I remember many warm days rocking to the soulful grooves of Ms. Teena Marie.

The Original Blue Eyed Soul Sister!!!!!!!!!!

Fire and Desire………

That is what she conjured up in a listener’s mind when she paired with funk superstar Rick James.

I especially love Ooh La La La.

It’s the way that you feel when you know it’s real.

She sang this song on Soul train and really rocked the place. I swear, fans and critics alike would have been forgiven for mistaking or believing Teena was a real sistah-just on the light side.

To me she is a true blue soul sister!!!!

RIP Teena.

Some of my Teena Favorites

Ooh La La La

Portuguese Love

If I were a Bell

Deja Vu: I ‘ve Been Here Before

Lisa Stansfield-Incomparable, Peerless, a true original!!!!!

I was 18 or 19 the first time I heard Lisa.

Oh yeah, as I said, I am 42.

Not showing my or Lisa’s age.

Just showing how timeless she is.

Anyway, I remember going to the store and requesting Been around the world by a singer named Lisa Stansfield. Her record had been receiving serious airplay on Black radio.

Well, imagine my surprise when I saw that she was White!!!

But hey, please believe that didn’t stop me from driving everyone around me crazy because I played that song to death….

Assuming that she was a one hit wonder or just sang one soulful song on an album composed of less stellar hits, I was pleasantly surprised when she consistently had one hit after another that topped the Black charts!!!

I’m All Woman

Been Around the World

Change

The Longer We Make Love with Barry White

This is the Right Time

Her pairing with Barry White on The Longer We Make Love is one of those classic soul ballads that generates a sizzling sexuality-definitely grownup music!!!!!!

Simply Red……

For some reason, I remember very well the lead singer’s fiery red hair.

Irish..

Soul with an accent….

The Politics of Soul…

The American Black….

The Oppressed Irish….

Could this be why the group’s signature sound so resonated with me and the R&B audience?

Their remake of Harold Melvin and the Blue note’s If you don’t know me by now transports the blues tradition of a man’s frustration with the breakup of a lifelong love affair into another culture-thereby making R&B universal.

Boz Skaggs

For the longest darn time I always thought Boz was a Black dude.

Only in recent years that I discovered that he was White!!!!

Boz and that Dirty Low down.

Listening to Boz singing that Dirty Low Down is an experience akin to listening to Johnny Taylor.

Yes, that is how delightful he is to listen to.

Boz can also rock that guitar to accompany his soulful voice.

That guitar. That is the most memorable aspect of this song.

This recording is meant to be rocked in those blues clubs that dot the southern landscape as well as the urban North.

Dirty Lowdown is one of those magical 70’s throwbacks that sound as if it was just recorded.

Billy Vera….

He came into my consciousness as a teenager.

It was on an episode of Family Ties.

It was the episode when Michael J. Fox’s character breaks up with his girlfriend.

Vera’s song At This Moment underscored the pain and sadness of this breakup.

I was left breathless when I first heard the song.

No kidding, the song played in my head continuously.

I could not shut off the play button.

Like Skagg’s Dirty Lowdown, At this moment is still relevant to Black music and audiences.

Michael McDonald…..

With this artist Soul really does not recognize color.

Let’s see…

His teaming with Patti Labelle on On my own was and still is a hit.

For me McDonald’s legacy in the Black music tradition was solidified with his duet with James Ingram on the hit Yamo be there.

Slang for I am going to be there.

Michael serves notice that not only can he rhythmically sing Black, but can talk in the Black tradition!!!!

A tribute to Blue Eyed Soul singers would not be complete without legends Hall and Oates.

What I love most about Hall and Oates is their ability to combine R&B/Soul with Rock.

This unique combination made that old school Soul sound more appealing to a contemporary generation.

In turn it made rock (with a softer edge) appealing to a whole new generation also.

The result was magnetic for the MTV generation!!!!!

Hall and Oates is still one of my favorite Rock-N- Soul Groups of all times….

The Bee Gees

Soul with an Australian accent!!!

Some of my favorite Bee Gees hits….

Emotions

More than a woman

How deep is your love?

This group brilliantly captured that distinct 70’s style with a mix of psychedelic and disco.

In all honestly, some of the songs by White singers trying to capitalize on the brief popularity of Disco sounds contrived and diluted.

Not so however with the Bee Gees.

Their late 70’s and early 80’s songs are still worthy of emulation on the Black charts and Black radio today.

Thanks readers for another nostalgic trip as we play tribute to Black music.

Join me later when we honor 70’s R&B Divas.

Until next time……

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There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about

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