A Rumble InThe HouseThat Oprah Built: Rae Dawn Chong VersusThe Queen Of All Media

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Hi Readers,

I have to admit that I am still reeling from Rae Dawn Chong’s verbal attacks on Oprah Winfrey this week.

It was very disconcerting to hear Chong call Oprah a House Nigger.

Wow!!!!!!!

I smirked when I first read the headlines.

Chong-a woman of mixed ancestry……

In light of recent (biracial) Black Americans opting to subordinate their Black ancestry, I thought Chong would have adopted a softer stance on the race issue.

However, after reading a synopsis of the interview, I realized that Rae’s verbal disrespect wasn’t really about race but more about jealousy and envy!!!!!!

Chong on Oprah’s Looks…..

As you know by now Oprah is no stranger to criticism concerning her looks.

Her battle of the bulge has become legendary in the annals of tabloid history.

Rae states that due to her looks, Oprah “would have been a house keeper 60 years ago.”

There is a common wisdom in some quarters that Oprah’s fame is attributed to her looks.

I remember a former professor of mine once observing that Oprah’s warm reception by white America was due to the mammy image that she conveyed.

For those of you who are unaware, the mammy is a figure of the Black women concocted by whites pining for the “good old days” right at the era of the emancipation of Black slaves in the South.

She was often very dark, and very obese.

She often looked down her nose at her fellow Blacks.

She often considered her white employees her family and spent many years sacrificing the needs of her own family (if she had one) for the needs of the white household she worked in.

I winced at his observation because I was one of a few African Americans in the class.

His words struck a chord/nerve…..why?

If I am being honest, there is some truth to his words.

I remember in the early years of her show, she used to cry with her guests and they would cry on her shoulders.

Ouch!!!!!!

Readers forgive me…….

But sometimes I couldn’t help but notice that some of her teary eyed guests would be very dainty and white.

Next to them, overweight Oprah would seem bearish.

Her bigness and her Blackness were magnified.

Rae charges that Oprah brown-nosed her way to the top.

That may be…..

However, in my heart of hearts I concede that Oprah’s meteoric rise to superstardom was and is a combination of unique talent and hard work.

Rae also charges that in her work with Oprah, she came across as the fat chick that became the teacher’s pet and wanted everyone to love her.

Uhm Uhm Uhm…….

I guess I can visualize that.

Be that as it may, I want to make one thing clear….

Oprah is NOT A SELLOUT!!!!!!!

She is definitely a race woman.

I have read articles and seen shows where she has given honor and much deserved respect to our Black icons and legends

Diana Ross….

Aretha Franklin….

Tina Turner….

Chong also went on to acknowledge that Oprah has almost singlehandedly changed the game for women of color and big women in the media.

Definitely a thin line between love and hate!!!!!

What about Oprah’s critical reception among Black women?

For me the jury is half in on that one.

I have heard on numerous occasions my sisters bashing O.

Not just my everyday sisters, but our celebrity sisters as well.

Toni Braxton on a VH1 special took Oprah to task for berating her on live television because of her tax woes.

Legendary Gladys Knight states in her autobiography that Oprah was cool and reserved towards her.

It seems that Oprah just can’t win.

I hope in her golden years that Oprah has learned or is mastering the wisdom that she can’t be all things to all people.

That the only one that she can please all of the time is herself.

On a personal note, Oprah’s success has inspired me to believe that the impossible can become possible.

Much Love O!!!!!

Until next time…….

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How Black America Can Heal and Thrive in Wake of the Trayvon Verdict

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Trayvon-Martin

Hello Readers,

FYI,

I decided to wait a couple of days after the shocking Trayvon Martin verdict before I rendered an opinion.

I learned the hard way the difference a couple of days can make!!!!!

Suspense….

Shock….

Disbelief….

Anger….

Pain….

Betrayal….

These are the gamut of emotions that I experienced the night of the Trayvon verdict as I sat watching continuing CNN updates.

Suspense you ask?

It was more like a deep anxiety coupled with great anticipation.

After all, the numerous CNN Pundits and analysts kept referencing past high profile cases in which the jury held lengthy deliberations.

I remember discussing the case a couple of days earlier with relatives and I informed them of the high probability that Zimmerman might get off.

Then, I thought because of the expectations of African Americans to see justice served for Trayvon, that the all-female jury would at least bring back a conviction of manslaughter.

The screams…..

Admittingly I did not follow this case as closely as I should have.

It was when I heard the screams on the 911 tapes and the testimonies of the mothers of Zimmerman and Trayvon that I suspected and on some level knew that “guilty without a doubt” was not really proven in this case.

Please note that doesn’t mean I believe that Zimmerman is without a doubt 100% at fault for Trayvon’s untimely demise.

I was deeply angered after hearing the 911 dispatcher tell Zimmerman that he did not need to follow Trayvon.

Why did he get out of the car?

To some Zimmerman may be herald as a hero.

If I am being honest, I would want someone as diligent as Zimmerman guarding my community.

For the majority of us, our homes are the biggest investments that we will make in our lifetime.

As evidenced across this country, it doesn’t take long or much for a comfortable middleclass neighborhood to fall into disarray and poverty.

However, with that being said, Trayvon was clearly profiled. It is unfortunate that some blame a garment for his death.

Though I am not a hoodie wearer (being a dowdy 42 year old woman), I have an innate common sense to know that a dangerous predator come in all types of clothing!!!!!!

As one of a few Black faces in a predominately White suburb, I am most anxious around those “safe” White people-thanks to the statistics on the majority of America’s most notorious serial killers.

With that being said, I am hurt and angry…..

Black America is hurt and angry….

My beloved brothers and sisters, where do we go from here?

Do we give up and accept this verdict?

Why has there been such an intense and emotional reaction to Trayvon’s murder?

Young Black men die everyday in America’s roughest urban areas either by the hand of another Black male or the police.

I honestly can’t remember another outpouring of outrage on the behalf of African Americans about injustice in my 42 years.

Emmett Till…..

This is what this verdict feels like to me.

Having been born in 1971 and really come of age in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I can’t begin to contemplate the deep hurt, anger and anxiety behind this verdict due to a “jury of Emmett’s peers”.

Speaking of a jury of peers…..

Six Women- Five White and a Black Hispanic….

Did we really expect justice?

As a wannabe feminist, I feel a sense of betrayal.

(This is a discussion for another time and another place-believe me)

Anyway readers I digress!

The Healing in the aftermath of Trayvon……

Black America is a terrific mess at this moment in our history.

If I have to describe our situation right now, I would say broken!!!!

In one segment of our population there is obscene wealth.

In another there is crushing poverty.

And, not to mention the not so healed scars of slavery that manifests itself daily through colorism, backbiting, etc.

Again I ask the question, where do we go from here?

The tragedy would be to protest and retreat!!!!

Consider If we would have beat a mass retreat after the Till verdict…..

No, we got angry….

We woke up….

Some of our beloved entertainers decided not to let Emmett’s death be in vein.

Although we have a Black president, we can’t really say that we have harnessed his election to truly eradicate racism and stress from our daily existence.

I’m sorry but some days I still feel as if we are bearing the heavy burden of slavery time Blackness!!!!!

Thus, we can’t rest on the achievements of our forebears.

Clichéd maybe….

The right to vote and rocking that vote is more vital than ever.

Please fathom that the high incarceration rates are in direct proportion to the voting power we lose-especially in the Deep South.

From the unschooled to the most highly educated amongst us, we need to make some intelligent noise in this area-especially in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling.

Take a moment to conceive what would happen if every African American in this country of voting age rocked the vote?

In rural suburban and major metropolitan areas, we could serve on juries and really deliver fair justice.

Justice would ring from every hamlet across America that we have managed to integrate!!!!!

How can a focus on voting rights help us to heal you ask?

When we go to the polls to vote, we are voting for issues as well as candidates.

What are the contemporary issues for us?

Violence, education, poverty, jobs, housing-these are pressing concerns for a majority of African Americans at this time.

Imagine if we were able to combat all of these issues through the political process?

We would definitely heal because a person who has all of his or her basic needs met, are free to pursue avenues of prosperity and happiness.

Take the insanely wealthy among us….

Especially the not so politically conscious athlete or entertainer!!!!

Money, Hoes, all a Nigga knows… was (and still is) a mantra for those intent on living that over the top lifestyle!!!!

This element among us is thriving in a sense because they are granted respect by Black and White America.

They possess that self-confidence to exist on many levels in American society.

Imagine if we as a whole got to that place?

Thriving……..

What does that mean for someone who has healed?

This may not be a good example but I often think of former drug addicts.

Once that addict has sought help for and kicked his addiction, he is ready to thrive.

He can only imagine the possibilities that await him with a sober life and mind.

What does post healing and thriving look like for us?

Restorative family units.

Hello beautiful sisters, queens, instead of the other derogatory terms for our women.

Hey Brother instead of that noxious term we often use with the mistaken belief of love and tenderness!!!

Whole people who can successfully challenge the new forms of racism that the dying arch conservative among us can dream up!!!!

(Make no mistake about it, racism is never going away-we will just handle it better)

The disconnect between the generations will be eradicated.

Segregation this time will not hurt us spiritually.

I don’t mean segregation in a negative sense.

I am talking about those safe spaces that are acutely needed -not just the stoops, beauty and barbershops.

The classrooms, boardrooms, state capitols and Capitol Hill.

To truly honor Trayvon, let’s not succumb to the helpless rage that will lead to mass scale violence and riots.

Make some noise!!!!!

Economic protests and boycotts.

Graduating at the top of our high school and college classrooms.

A 100% high school and college graduation rate for every African American boy and girl.

Know our history in America, on the continent and the world.

Finally (and perhaps the most important)-wealth and financial independence.

Ponder for a moment if we owned the businesses and banks in our communities.

Reflect if every African American adult owned their own homes free and clear and had substantial savings, as well as conscious politicians fighting on our behalf?

This would be similar to the invaders in foreign lands who are a small percentage but own everything and wield real power!!!!

For now this is just a dream but could one day be a reality.

Stay strong Black America and keep Trayvon alive!!!!

(Sorry for the long and ranting post)

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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th

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……

Black Music Month-Old School R&B Bass

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Hello readers,

Welcome back to our tribute to Black music month.

Last time we paid tribute to the great falsettos in classic Black music.

This time I want to focus on the great bass singers in R&B.

What would dynamic soul music be without the rich baritone voices that have been the inspiration and backdrop to some of our greatest love affairs?

One of my favorite bass singers was Melvin Franklin of the Temptations.

I remember the temptations’ rendition of Silent Night when I was a child. Melvin’s deep vocals on the track made the song distinctive and memorable.

Because of Melvin’s contributions, I felt that African Americans could claim Christmas as a holiday of our own.

I remember on Papa Was a Rolling Stone-perhaps one of my favorite Temptations’ songs of all times-Melvin’s addition of “Now That Aint Right.”

Although Dennis Edwards without a doubt owned the song from start to finish, without Melvin’s part, the song would have appeared incomplete.

For me, Melvin was immortalized in the Temptations’ reunion song Standing on the Top when he sang “We Want the Funk”.

This song was a testament to the staying power of the soul and tenacity of R&B.

I t was the last time when the original members would perform together again.

Lou Rawls…….

Lou was the ultimate natural man!!!!

Lou Rawls first came into my consciousness when I was a pre-adolescent with the hit You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.

This song was Lou’s signature hit that identified him across generations.

Funny…..

Because of the lasting longevity of this song, I presumed that this was his breakout hit.

I knew that he had a long singing career.

I didn’t know that preceding this song, he had best sellers such as Natural man and Tobacco Road.

My favorite Lou Rawls song is I’ll See You When I Get There.

I love the intro when he makes a call to his lady love: How you’re doing, I hope that you’re fine. Did your day take you through changes and mess up your mind.

Out of Sight……

This is one of those easy listening mellow grooves that you can swear was just recorded yesterday.

Lou Rawls was definitely a master of the grown and sexy.

And, speaking of grown and sexy, Isaac Hayes was definitely one of its progenitors.

Brother Isaac…….

Soul man # 1 was the force behind such hits as the theme song Shaft, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Do Your Thing, I Stand Accused…..

Readers don’t laugh…..

One of my life’s fantasies includes being serenaded by Isaac while he sings Dionne Warwick’s classic Walk on Bye.

Isaac’s soul drenched version conjures a man steeped in pain over the loss of a lady he loves very much. He is in so much pain, that he forbids her to acknowledge him.

Probably more than falsettos, bass singers have the power to project the most raw of human emotions.

Especially when it comes to romance.

When it comes to Romance,

Barry White, the maestro of love, has no peers.

I repeat- no peers!!!!

Barry has produced such a vast corpus of seductive love ballads that I don’t even know where to begin…….

September….

Honey Please….

I Got So Much to Give….

I can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe….

Ecstasy….

Love Serenade….

Staying Power…..

Never Gonna Give you Up……

Let the Music Play…

Baby Blues….

Love Making Music….

You Turned My Whole World Around…..

You’re the First, the Last, My Everything…..

Practice What You Preach…..

See, I told you readers.

Pick a favorite Barry White song.

Imagine this song without Barry’s lush and seductive baritones.

Pick say for instance-Never Gonna Give You Up.

Remember when Barry sings….Whatever you want, girl you got it. And whatever you need I don’t want to see you without it.

The sexual and emotional impact of this song demands that strong rich Black texture to make it come alive and be the bedrock of which fantasies are made.

Barry’s Love Serenade is one of the most sex engaged songs that I ever heard.

It sends shivers down my spine even now when Barry sings..

Take it off. Baby take it all off. I want you the way you came into the world. I don’t want to feel no clothes. I don’t want to see no panties and take off that brassiere my dear.

Eric Benet, Keith Washington and other contemporary balladeers seem like generic carbon copies compared to Barry.

One often overlooked but noticeably trait of Black Bass singers is well-their Blackness.

Whether by fate or design, the richness of the vocals of Black bass singers matched with the deep richness of their complexion makes for a powerful combination in the recorded history of classic Soul/R&B.

Join me next time readers when we explore the richness of Blue Eyed Soul.

Until Next Time…..

Black Music Month-Old School R&B Falsettos

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sOMKEY rOBINSON

Hi Readers,

Summer has finally arrived.

And with the summer season comes the explosion of fantastic music concerts.

Lest we forget, June is Black music month.

Because I live in Chicago where warm weather is greatly anticipated and revered, I enjoy long leisurely walks during the summer months.

I depend on great music to accompany me.

In particular, old school R&B.

The range of artists I enjoy and their unique styles are too numerous for me to recount.

Though there are some styles and techniques that I really love.

I especially adore the many falsettos in classic Black music.

In this post, I want to pay homage to some of the greatest falsettos in classic R&B.

One dynamic falsetto singer that comes to mind is Eddie Holman.

You know readers-from the 70’s smash hit Hey There Lonely Girl.

Wow!!!!

What a sweet and tender ballet.

Eddie’s perfect high falsetto is in keeping with the tone of the song in which a sensitive brother implores a lady with a freshly broken heart that he will help her heal.

Deep…..

Every time I hear this song, it only sounds better!!!!

Maybe our contemporary crooners with a penchant for sensitivity should take a chapter from Eddie’s playbook.

And speaking of style, how can we ever forget the fabulous Stylistics?

For those not in the know, they are the masters of classics-You are Everything, I’m Stone in Love With You, You Make Me Feel Brand New, Betcha By Golly Wow, People Make the World Go Round!!!!

I remember Marvin and Diana covering You Are Everything as a duo.

I loved the remix-with Diana’s smooth vocals next to Marvin’s gruff rendition-you can feel the sex appeal seeping into your pores.

As much as I love Marvin and Diana’s version, I prefer the Stylistics cover because it harkens back to an era when real men had no qualms about expressing their most tender and deepest feelings.

Speaking of expressing feelings, do you remember the group Switch?

For those of you who are scratching your heads, I hope you can remember 70’s classics such as I Call your Name and There Will Never Be.

Owwwww….

Credit can be given to Bobby DeBarge-older sibling of the famous DeBarge family.

I think the first time I ever heard Switch it was the song, I call Your Name.

I remember the opening lines…

“I use to think about immature things like do you want me, do you love me….”

I imagined an adolescent.

Bobby was anything but an adolescent!!!!

Handsome in that 70’s style with curly locks, cafe au lait skin- this song was the perfect match to Bobby’s impressive falsetto.

What a lethal combination.

I sang this song often as a pre-teen.

My favorite line…”Oh when I’m lonely when I’m discouraged I call your name. There is no substitute for you.”

Man these lyrics take me back. Even now, I can feel the powerful impact of this song; of a young man missing a woman near and dear to his heart.

And speaking of Cafe au lait 70’s falsetto singers, Smokey Robinson is hands downs-without a doubt the greatest of them all!!!!

Marvin Gaye once proclaimed Smokey the world’s greatest poet.

Where to start…

There is one poignant song that I especially adore-More Love.

According to Smokey, he composed this song after he and his first wife, former band mate Claudette Robinson suffered a heart breaking miscarriage.

It starts off….

“Let it be soon don’t hesitate, make it now don’t wait. Open your heart , and let my love come in. I want the moment to start when I can fill your heart with more love…My love will be so sound it will take a hundred lifetimes to tear it down.”

If Smokey would have never composed or sang another note, the lyrics he wrote and the endearing way he sang them in tender love to his wife, would have solidified his career for me.

And speaking of Smokey Robinson’s compositions and singing, if I had a favorite I guess it would be Ooh Baby Baby.

Remember?

“I did you wrong my heart went out to play I’m only human but what a price to pay.”

What’s better than a silky smooth crooner pouring out his words of love for you?

One who is begging for forgiveness!!!!

Readers those are songs that still sustain me in a contemporary climate in which male singers vilify women instead of respecting and loving them.

Well that is all for now.

Join me next time when I take a look back at the greatest bass singers in R&B.

Until next time…..

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