Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Notes from One Sunday Morning

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Here are some notes from a church service I attended several years ago. I'm glad I kept these words -- these messages are invaluable. I hope these notes move you as much as they move me -- still.
  • God is my protector and will fight my battles for me. 
  • God will put people in place to nurture me, love me, soothe and comfort me.
  • Don't work so hard. You don't have to worry.
  • You're not running a race. You can slow down. There's enough time to do all that you need and want to do.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Family Gathering July 2014

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Gigi with Granddad
Norma, Carolyn, Will, Mom (Mary), Dorothy, and Claire
Mom (Mary), Will, Dot, and Claire


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Nina Simone, George Clinton, Fantasia, and More at N.C. Music Hall of Fame

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Gigi and I recently took a trip to the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in Kannapolis and received a personal tour of this treasure spot in the birthplace of the King of P-Funk, George Clinton, who was inducted into the Hall in 2009, ten years after Doug Croft and Joe Carroll founded the space. Clinton hasn't actually seen his featured memorabilia in the hall yet -- as it's been difficult to get the funk allstar to grace the place with his presence. Veronica Cordle, NC Music Hall of Fame representative, said she hopes to change that soon. "We've been trying to get in touch with him and just haven't had any luck," she told us during our visit. New music industry inductees are honored with a a VIP Red Carpet reception and ceremony each year in October, but Clinton didn't make it when the organization inducted him four years ago. Maybe Cordle could invite Clinton to come to the museum to sign copies of his upcoming book, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't that Funkin' Kinda Hard on You? That might get his attention.
I was surprised to learn how much musical talent has come out of North Carolina -- including some of my alltime favorites like Nina Simone, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Max Roach, Roberta Flack, Maceo Parker, and so many more. Who knew such splendid treasures could be found in the North Carolina History books?
In October the N.C. Music Hall of Fame will induct the following musicians who were either born in N.C., or have strong ties to the state: Clay Aiken, Fantasia, Jimmy Capps, The Embers, Littel Eva, Lulu Belle & Scotty, Tab Smith and Link Wray. The celebration will be held on October 16 at the Gem Theatre in Kannapolis. Cordle says she hopes Fantasia will sing during the event. Me too! If I find out that she will perform, I may have to attend the festivities myself! The hall is located in the old city jail building in Kannapolis, but the founders plan to move to a portion of the new baseball stadium planned for downtown Kannapolis. For details about the upcoming Induction ceremony and visiting hours for the N.C. Music Hall of Fame, call 704-934-2320 or send a message to info@northcarolinamusichalloffame.org.
Veronica Cordle gave us a personal tour of the
N.C. Music Hall of Fame!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bittersweet with MFSB/TSOP

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This song gets me everytime. First it makes me want to cry -- then it makes me want to dance. Here's Mother Father Sister Brother (the Sound of Philadelphia) playing "Bittersweet."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Journey on Beauty and Compliments

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One should be as cautious when receiving the compliment 'you have a good heart' as one should be when they are told 'you have a nice body'.

Both are nice to hear. Both are flattering. Both have the potential to be coming from someone who seeks to exploit one or the other.

Either way, be aware but not paranoid. A rose is still a rose no matter what its beauty evokes. Bloom regardless.

- journey

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Great Ruby Dee: A True Mother Sister

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Here's my tribute to the great Ruby Dee -- the actress who pierced you every time you watched her in a dramatic role -- like Mother Sister in Do The Right Thing, Ruth Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, and Lucinda Purify in Jungle Fever. I posted the article below back when she was nominated for an Oscar Award in 2008 for her role as the mother of drug lord, Frank Lucas (played by Denzel Washington). 

Rest easy, Ms. Dee. You worked hard during your illustrious career as an actress and you fought hard as a civil rights activist for all of us. We love and appreciate you!
Originally Posted February 23, 2008

I will be highly disappointed if this woman right here doesn't win the Oscar for her role in the film American Gangster. Ruby Dee is nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category along with Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan, Amy Ryan, and Tilda Swinson.
Dee is one of America's finest actors and has paved the way for many of our country's African American artists. The level of excellence that she and her husband Ossie Davis gave to some of Spike Lee's films is phenomenal.

I respect her not only for her great acting abilities, but also for her work as an activist, and her great teaching talents. She taught me and I will never forget the lessons I learned from her.

Check out what I wrote about Ms. Dee in my personal essay titled "Listening to Nina Simone," which first appeared in The Writers Loft magazine called The Trunk:

I took a solo performance class with Ruby Dee at Hunter College in New York City. From her I learned to always have a purpose when performing or creating any type of artistic project. Ms. Dee screamed at me when I was rehearsing a piece for an upcoming show. “Speak the words!” she said. She was telling me to give it all I had. I’ve been trying to do that ever since. And I’ve got nothin’ but love for her husband, the late Ossie Davis, who would lovingly fill in for his wife and teach her class when she had other engagements. His advice about performing and the arts was always as solid as hers.

Also, read a Variety magazine article about Dee here.

Here are two interesting answers that Dee gave to the reporter:

What's your favorite film? A Raisin in the Sun
(This is, of course, one of the film's that Dee herself helped to make golden.)

What do you want in a director? "I'm an actor who appreciates direction. I respect the fact that a director has studied the text and the road map of work before us, the subtleties, interconnections, underpinnings. ... His job is to paint the entire picture and knows all the colors that have to be in it."

Here's this master actress playing one of the best roles she had during her glorious career. She plays the mother of Gator, a strung out crack addict, in Jungle Fever. As always, when she and her husband Ossie worked together, it was always a joy to behold.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

I Admire

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"When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older I admire kind people."
                                -- Abraham Joshua Heschel

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The name: Maya Angelou

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Listen to her beautiful explanation of how she got the name: Maya Angelou

As well as being a writer, dancer, and singer, this PHENOMENAL LADY was also a director ("Down in the Delta")

R.I.P. Queen Mother Maya Angelou

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My heart is sad today after hearing the news that Queen Maya Angelou has passed away. Rest in Peace dear Queen. You helped me grow up as a woman, writer, and mother. I'll never forget you and the gift you gave to me and so many other little girls and women around the world.

Rest in Peace dear Lady
suu re (Yoruba)

Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise

I rise. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pickin' Strawberries

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Gigi picked some scrumptious looking juicy strawberries with her friend Michelle Saturday morning at the Hall Family Farm in Charlotte. They are every bit as delicious as they look. We're freezing most of them for our future smoothies.