Let’s Take A Moment Day 482

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Tom Petty music quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

In 1969 a series of concerts took place in New York City. Dubbed “The Harlem Cultural Festival” and held at what is now Marcus Garvey Park, it featured so many of my favorite performers from the Motown soul & gospel genres. These concerts were held over a six week period & most of the shows were recorded. But at the time there was no interest in buying them for a film Those involved did not know if that was because another music festival-Woodstock-was taking place that August or because black music was still considered secondary in the summer of 1969.

Whatever the reason, the tapes of the Harlem shows were left in a basement for 50 years until 2019. At that time they came to the attention of a producer who purchased them & turned them into a film that was released this year. Unbelievable, right? Another shocking aspect to this story? I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE CONCERTS OR THE MOVIE UNTIL LAST WEEK!!!

I uncovered the film about seven days ago when I went to Hulu for my weekly “Lost” re-watch. Instead I saw the ad for the movie, aptly titled “Summer Of Soul”. It premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in January and in theatres & on Hulu in June. My jaw dropped as I read the info about the film. It spotlights the performances of the incredible artists who were there interwoven with present day interviews with them and others involved in the festival itself.

How could something so incredible like a concert series of this magnitude get shelved for five decades? I am a native New Yorker, not to mention a profound fan of music, yet I lived all these years without even knowing this festival took place??? I cannot help but hang my head in extreme shame.

The film marks the directorial debut of Questlove, the co-frontman & drummer of Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” band, The Roots. In addition to being a musician and songwriter, Questlove has also made a name for himself as a producer, music journalist, author, disc jockey and now film director.

Discovering that an event like this took place but was never a matter of record matches my shock & amazement from the first time I saw “Hidden Figures”. To discover how important women-black women, especially-were assisting the U.S. Space Program & that was left out of the history books we read as kids is astounding. How many young girls might have had different dreams if they knew intelligent groundbreaking women were busting through glass ceilings half a century before? And how many aspiring musicians would have been inspired by this concert series?

But there is so much more to enjoy about this movie than the music. It is a time capsule to revisit the past. A look back at what are now vintage images of the culture at that time, the fashion, the style, the city store fronts and the people is simply hypnotic. The same goes for the clips of archived vintage footage from national news programs regarding the current events of the day like the Vietnam War & the Apollo landing which occurred the same summer. Those were interspersed with local stories about the heroin epidemic, the poverty level & the downward spiral of Harlem in general.

We also get a look at the city’s mayor at the time-John V. Lindsay-as well as a 27 year old minister, Reverend Jesse Jackson, who lead the crowd in a spiritual moment while he gave them his first hand account of watching Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King get shot. Undeniably powerful stuff.

My favorite moments include a newly solo David Ruffin singing “My Girl” sans The Temptations & hitting those high notes in such a remarkable effortless way; Stevie Wonder exhibiting his numerous talents from behind a microphone, a keyboard and a drum set; Sly Stone, the original poster boy for diversity not only as a black performer with white band members but with female ones as well. And they were not just back-up singers, either. They both sang & played instruments like the keyboards & the trumpet. The Family Stone performed three songs “Sing A Simple Song”, “Everyday People” & “Higher” which played as the credits began to roll.

Then there was Nina Simone captivating the audience with her powerful voice as she slammed the piano keys throughout her fierce performance. Gladys Knight & The Pips were on fire as were the gospel numbers, especially The Edwin Hawkins Singers rousing performance of “Oh Happy Day”. One of the women interviewed in the present who attended the show as a teenager summed it up best when she said: “Those artists crossed genres. They were trying to reunite people with music”. I have never been without music but I am just thrilled to be united with this movie. It is that good.

Another group that performed on what was called the festival’s “gospel day” was The Staple Singers. They were a family group comprised of Roebuck “Pops” Staples & his children: son Pervis & daughters Cleotha, Yvonne & Mavis, who turned 82 years young yesterday In addition to singing with her family, Mavis also sang a gospel song with Mahalia Jackson on “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” after Jackson’s stirring speech about and in honor of Rev. King’s favorite church song. It was nothing short of sublime.

In the present interview as the clip of the two women played, Mavis revealed that she still considers that moment her biggest honor and the experience “the time of my life”. She was born July 10, 1939 in Illinois. She & her family moved from gospel to secular music in the mid 1960’s. In 1968 they were signed to Stax Records. By June 1972, they had the #1 song in the country for one week with today’s track. It may be her birthday but it is her audience that receives a gift every time she sings.

Happy birthday, Mavis & here’s to 100 more. And a ginormous thank you to everyone who put this festival together, all the artists who performed there & the people who gave us the movie showcasing it all. It is an astounding treasure.

I know a place
Ain’t nobody cryin’
Ain’t nobody worried
Ain’t no smilin’ faces

Soul picture

Mavis and Mahalia

Top: The movie poster for 2021’s “Summer Of Soul”. Bottom: Mavis Staples (L) and Mahalia Jackson (R) in a still from the film. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Staples Singers: “I’ll Take You There” (1972, written by Al Bell).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 137

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Thoreau music quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Only two famous musicians are known to have played with both The Beatles as a group and then with all four members individually.  The first is my great love Eric Clapton, who played lead guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, although he went uncredited on The White Album.  He then went on to play with Lennon in The Dirty Mac (along with Keith Richards on bass and Mitch Mitchell, the drummer from The Jimi Hendrix Experience) and on several songs by Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band.  Clapton played with Paul on his 2001 song, “Freedom” & at The Concert For George.  Clapton co-wrote “Badge” for Cream with George, played on his 1970 album, “All Things Must Pass” and appeared at The Concert For Bangladesh in 1971 with him as well.  Ringo was also at The Concert For Bangladesh and Clapton wrote music & played guitar for Ringo’s 1976 album, “Ringo’s Rotogravure” and 1983’s “Old Wave” amongst others.  Clapton also played with Ringo in person at The Prince’s Trust Concert in 1987 as well as The Concert For George in 2002.

The other musician to boast the same accomplishment with The Beatles was Billy Preston.  He was nicknamed “The Fifth Beatle” after playing organ for them on “Abbey Road” (on “I Want You (She’s So Heavy”) & “Something”), then he played electric piano on the “Let It Be” album and in the movie during the rooftop concert scene for “Get Back” & “Don’t Let Me Down”.  After the band broke up Preston played on John’s song “God”, on George’s album “All Things Must Pass” and at The Concert For Bangladesh.  Preston also played on a few of Ringo’s solo albums (1973’s self titled record & 2005’s “Choose Love”), in his All-Starr Band & at The Concert For George (where he sang a rousing version of “My Sweet Lord”) and played with Paul at this show as well.  And for added interest, Preston played Sgt. Pepper in the 1978 film of the same name where he sang his own version of “Get Back”.

He was hailed as a self-taught child prodigy who played with Mahalia Jackson & Nat King Cole by the ages of 10 and 11, respectively.  By the age of 16 he met The Beatles in Hamburg, Germany when he was playing with Little Richard’s band.  Later that year he played for Sam Cooke and five years later, he joined Ray Charles’ band.  He has played on several albums for The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton while working on songs by artists like Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle & The Band.  Preston also worked as the musical director for David Brenner’s short lived late night show, Nightlife, from 1986-1987.  He co-wrote today’s song with songwriter Bruce Fisher and both men also penned the Joe Cocker hit, “You Are So Beautiful” (there are rumors that Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys had a hand in writing it as well but allegedly his brother Brian Wilson said that was not the case).  Preston died too young at the age of 59 in 2006 but left a legacy of great performances that showcase just how gifted he was.

Billy Preston in 2002 at The Concert For George (L) and as Sgy. Pepper (R) in the 1978 movie of the same name.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Billy Preston:  “Nothing From Nothing” (1974, written by Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

25 Days Of Christmas Music: Day 24

Hello, Vixens!!!  Merry Christmas Eve!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.


 (Original source unknown)

Today’s song dates back to 1847 and combined the words of French poet Placide Cappeau and the music of Adolphe Adam.  The more familiar singing edition came to life in 1855 courtesy of Unitarian Minister John Sullivan Dwight.

In whatever language this song is sung, the message is clear:  to rejoice over the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  No matter how many signs we see at stores that read “Jesus is the reason for the season”, it may be easy to forget that Christmas is a religious holiday for those who believe in him.  We all know how commercial this holiday has always been (even Charlie Brown commented on that in 1965) and how it is arriving earlier and earlier in stores and the media each year.  But the little Catholic school girl I used to be 100 years ago cannot choose any other song for Christmas Eve than the one which celebrates the greatest gift God gave us.

These are my top three favorite versions of this song:

aretha-franklin al-green-pic[1]Mahalia Jackson 
                                                                                             (Original sources unknown)                                        

Aretha Franklin:  “O Holy Night

Al Green:   “O Holy Night

Mahalia Jackson:  “O Holy Night

And for the sarcastic adult that I have become, I cannot resist including this irreverent version every year because it makes me laugh until I cry.

Eric Cartman:  “O Holy Night


 (Original source unknown)

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you   🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!