Freakin’ It: A Betty Davis Retrospective

Speaking of Miles Davis, let’s talk about his former wife Betty Davis. I know I should have posted this in March, but school distracted me until now. But better late than never, right? Betty Davis is one of my favorite artists and when I heard about the concert on March 7th at the Schomburg Center, I jumped at the chance to go. Even better, my class happened to be canceled that day, so I didn’t have to skip (Lucky me!).

As part of the Black Rock Coalition‘s spring music tributes, the lineup for the night included Tamar-Kali, KimberlyNichole, Joi, N’Dambi, Nucomme, and Alkebulan. The band included guitarists and singers Kat Dyson and Jerome Jordan. This was one of the best concerts I had attended; it was a beautiful tribute to a woman who has inspired many and receives little attention. The entire band sounded amazing and after a while I did not even care that the singers were reading the lyrics on the stands. All the performances were fierce, but the two singers who were the most fiery were Tamar-Kali, who was the co-musical director with Victor Axelrod (keyboard), and KimberlyNichole.

And for those of you who do like these performances, this saturday the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra is doing a tribute at the Schomburg Center to another singer I love, Sam Cooke. Just click on his name to buy tickets. Enjoy!

Here is Tamar-Kali, KimberlyNichole and Kat Dyson performing “Game Is My Middle Name”

KimbelyNichole performing “If I’m In Luck, I Just Might Get Picked Up”

Tamar-Kali performing “When Romance Says GoodBye”

Joi, N’Dambi and Tamar-Kali performing “Steppin’ in Her I. Miller Shoes”

Joi performing “Nasty Gal”


Destroying Jazz?

Esperanza Spalding

Today, I was on my daily blog scroll and came across this article that Mark Anthony Neal put on his blog, New Black Man. The article is from the music magazine, Wax Poetics and reflects on the genre of Jazz Fusion from Miles Davis to Esperanza Spalding:

“Yet, from fusion’s early days as a noisy musical contender, many narrow-minded jazz aficionados and critics were unable to appreciate the sonic change when acoustic became suddenly antiquated. Appalled by upstarts infiltrating their music with electric guitars, Moogs, wild percussion instruments, tape loops, and synthesizers, purists referred to the new musical movement as anti-jazz. In Considering Genius (2006), jazz traditionalist and essayist Stanley Crouch stated that fusion was “the aesthetic death valley” of jazz.

Yet, while the genre became quite popular, not many women instrumentalists ventured into fusion. With the exception of Alice Coltrane, Bobbi Humphrey, Joni Mitchell, Patrice Rushen, Meshell Ndegeocello, and a few others, fusion has long remained a male-dominated field.

‘Jazz has always been a melting pot of influences and that fusion is what I want to capture in my own music,” says bassist, vocalist, and composer Esperanza Spalding, who won the Best New Artist Grammy earlier this year.'”

Check out the rest of the article and the rest of Wax Poetics; it’s a great magazine!

Show Your Papers!

A little over a month ago, President Obama decided to publicly show his birth certificate to diminish the attention placed on the ignorant “Birthers,” who included the hair-challenged Donald Trump. Well, a few days ago, Trump declared that Obama’s birth certificate is “forged.” Of course, it is Trump! (*sarcasm*). For people like Trump, it has never been about the birth certificate; he is just attention-seeking, ignorant and profiting off the ongoing fear that many in this country have had of people they consider “others.” After President Obama displayed his birth certificate in April, Goldie Taylor, of The Grio, recorded a response that appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC and she put things into perspective.

Forgetting Why We Remember

Today is Memorial Day and while many of us celebrate the holiday with barbecues and trips to the beach, I think it is also important to remember the solemn history behind this holiday. In today’s New York Times, David W. Blight published an article recounting the origins of Memorial Day after the Civil War through Reconstruction, and how the marginal stories of the holiday have been largely erased by the mainstream official story. Blight, who is currently a professor of history and the director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale, will be releasing soon his new book, “American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era.” Have a great Memorial Day!

Gil Scott Heron: A Poetic Revolutionary

Yesterday, I was sad to find out that singer and poet Gil Scott Heron died at the age of 62. Best known for his poem and song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Heron was one of the important links between the 60s Beat poets and the Black Arts/Power Movement, and the Hip Hop and Spoken Word generations. Many poets and writers, such as Chuck D from Public Enemy, Kanye West, Common, Talib Kweli, and poet Lemn Sissay, credit him with teaching them how to speak and write in way that is meaningful to their audience. Also, several rappers, like West, have sampled his music in their own songs. Heron influenced many on the importance of caring about others, about their own community and about those less fortunate, even through his own struggles with drug abuse. Heron was a legendary poet, singer and man, and I wish I had the chance to see him and meet him. But now I hope he is finally at peace. Rest In Poetry.

The Revolution Will Not be Televised 

Home Is Where the Hatred Is 

Kanye West – My Way Home (Sampled Home Is Where the Hatred Is)

We Almost Lost Detroit 

Common – The People (Samples We Almost Lost Detroit)

Black Star – Brown Skin Lady (Also samples We Almost Lost Detroit)

Lose Control!

via The Ase Fountain

“AfroFutures. Postmodern Ancients.

Spoek Mathambo – Control

This is such a great video, it can be read on so many levels. A South African cover version of an English tune (Joy Division She’s Lost Control) to me it plays with the kinds of images that signal a terrible, fearful ‘voodoo’ to the mainstream. Western images of traditional African spirituality usually imply loss of self, loss of control, reversion to a mindless savagery that only rational Western ‘civilisation’ cures. Spoek plays around with these images and recasts them in a hip, unsettling, AfroFuturistic video that deserves wider viewing. Big up Spoek!”

Techno/Electronic music is not my favorite genre, but this is too cool to deny! Also, check out The Ase Fountain on Tumblr; it is a very interesting site that covers the various cultures of the African Diaspora.

Sorry, You’re Not That Original

Grace Jones and Lady Gaga

One of the reasons I was never impressed with Lady Gaga is that I feel as if what she does and wears has been done before and she does not even do a great job at naturally making it her own. Here is a picture I saw on Tumblr today comparing Grace Jones and Gaga, and so this will be a small taste of one of my upcoming posts…


The Sankofic Now: Reimagining the Past + Manifesting the Future

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