I am about to make a statement that clarifies much of my thinking at this time. When you get older and look at the past and what you have done, you have to take stock of yourself and accept the things that are involved in your life and what impact those things have on your life.
Now there are those of us who just go along with the flow of things and to be honest that’s ok if that is what you want your life to be like. Some of us enjoy our lives and live our lives to the fullest, and that is the way it should be as well. That way we have a life that is full of meaning and fulfillment.
So, what fulfills your life? What makes it meaningful to you?
Besides life and family, what fulfills my life is the art of music and song. It always has. And, it always will.
But, there are other things that are important to me and that is the ability to share the things that ensure my being and others who share the same things I share.
That is the reason why I write this blog, rongill-sings.com. It’s a way of sharing with you, as a reader of my blog, the things I like to do in my life and hopefully to make me a better person that I am because of sharing it with you.
Give me an idea of what makes your day and share that with me. It will help you and I to be better people and to understand each other better.
Ya-Neshi Coates: Fear Of A Black President con’t
In last month’s blog I included an article that I thought was interesting from the Atlantic Magazine, by Ta-Neshi Coates, titled, Fear Of A Black President. I checked in on the site and the response to the article was overwhelming. Of course, there were the usual comments of opinions to the article, but what was striking were the comments regarding race that was prevalent in those comments and reactions to the article.
Here are some samples: ( I included these comments and made a point of not identifying the people who made the comments.)
Yawn…Obama doesn’t need to mention the race issue because publications like The Atlantic will for him. I don’t think of Obama in terms of his skin color I think of his in terms of his ideology and his policies. Conservatives aren’t caught up in the race issue liberals are.
(Edited by author 1 week ago)
Conservatives don’t “see” race.
Don’t forget the black superintendent of the Atlanta school system faking the test scores to win her National Administrator of the Year award or whatever it was. Even some sad black people called that “black on black” crime.
Black people need to own up to the problems in their own community and stop blaming racism. White liberals need to quit encouraging that bullshit so they can pass their liberal agenda.
“Black people need to own up to the problems in their own community and stop blaming racism.”………..and what makes you think that blacks don’t do that?
It is interesting how you are over looking that slavery in America only ended 2-3 generations ago. Jim Crow laws were struck down 35 years ago, and started coming back 8 years ago. Stop and frisk laws in NY were made to treat innocent children of color as criminals. People of color are still lynched. With all of these issues and more i can understand how the black community could have some social problems. I really can not comprehend why white people have problems with race.
oohhh, yeah Blacks can’t do anything better
“Black societies all over the world are poorly run because most blacks don’t accept responsibility for their own failures. “………
Do you really think is only for that?, you’re the typical conservative who is on denial of historic facts, but I will be quiet in this regard to not confuse you
” Look at Detroit, it has been run by democrats since 1961, and blacks have heavily dominated since the 1980’s. It was once the greatest industrial city in the world when whites, including Jews, ran the place.”
Yeah, blacks have been an important demographic in that city, but as far I know the companies that went in bankrupt in the mid-twentieth century were not managed by blacks, the economic failure in cities like Detroit or Cleveland is mainly due to industrial decline, new technologies of production appeared, steel was the main product to market from the mid-west but this came even cheaper from other countries, the competition was strong, and that situation forced many companies to close or move. Without companies no jobs, without jobs no money, and without money there is poverty, don’t be fooled by the fact that blacks are a dominant demography in this region, there are strong economic and political reasons to not blame them for the social difficulties
….didn’t you read it in the article. White people have benefited from affirmative action for years. Your squealing is that you can see you privilege ebbing away and the thought of you having to play on an even playing field terrifies you. Don’t worry about it. Your children will adapt. In fact, they probably already have.
These were samples of a long dissertation of articles commenting on the article. And what can be made of this?
I give credit for Coates’ attempt to address the subject. To be honest, during my time away from doing the last blog and now I took the chance to read the article to completion and will read it again, because there is lots of information in it that I may have missed. To be sure, I will continue to seek more information beyond the article and when I get all my information that I am seeking together I will re-join you in conversation on the subject.
My first impression after reading it was that Coates had said in part with his editor that it was an angry piece. I disagree. Maybe rereading the article my opinion could change, but my reasoning was that it was a complicated article to write and the point of view IMO was his own. So that point of view was prevalent. I am making an effort to contact Mr. Coates so that I can clarify what I read and what he wrote. Again, I will discuss this with you further if I can,
I have had discussions over the past four years with others who were disappointed with this Black President, and read articles with others who had their personal opinions. My take on that , of course, is based on my personal opinions and one of the things I have commented on was no President in my lifetime have been perfect, none, so should Obama be any different?
First let me apologize to the article that I am going to present to you from an UpTown Magazine in the December 2011/January 2012 issue. After I read the article, I sent the author of the article, Dear President Obama, by Kevin Powell, a reply to the article. Unfortunately, I have misplaced my reply. Somehow it has not found it’s way to my computer, and I have searched high and low for it. I regret that, since I made a point of addressing some of Mr. Powell’s comments. I include this magazine article because it in some ways reflect Mr. Coates Atlantic article. A disgruntled attitude about Obama that I somehow find regretful. Mr. Powell after many months since I sent him my reply has not answered my letter.
Dear President Obama:
I pray that you, Michelle, and your daughters are well during these very difficult times in America’s history. It has been three momentous years since you swept into the presidency of the United States on a wave of hope and change, and God knows you, and our nation, have been through much in that time. There is no denying, Mr. President, that your place in history is secure simply because you inspired a nation and an entire planet to say “Yes we can” and believe, in our core, that anything is possible if we come together as a people—all people. Indeed, sir, your very being symbolizes the majestic heights any of us can reach if we simply try. But even on that Tuesday night in November 2008, as I held a party, as many of us did globally, to celebrate your victory—our victory—and the DJ cued up Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” something in me said this was as good as it was going to get. That, like Dr. King after his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in August 1963, you would never see this level of popularity and mass adoration again. I had no idea what was going to happen to you, but I did sense a return to reality for most of us, and to the business at hand.
And what business you inherited: a devastated economy near collapse; a broken health-care system; a nation increasingly divided by race, class, region, and political ideology; a people, Americans, desperately seeking a savior. Absolutely no one person, no one man or woman, could meet those great expectations.
You have, Mr. President, had some major victories along the way, be it the passage of the health-care bill—watered down or not, no president before you had ever achieved such landmark legislation. You have provided some relief to homeowners, to middle-class and poor people, to small businesses. You got “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed as the official policy on homosexuals serving in the American military. You’ve signed into law new educational funding for persons with disabilities. You appointed the ﬁrst Latina to the U.S. Supreme Court, and with your hiring of blacks, Latinos, and gays, you have perhaps the most diverse and inclusive presidential administration ever. You signed a nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia, putting off potential nuclear war, we hope, for another generation at least. You signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers. You have forcefully challenged banks, corporations, and the wealthy in America to pay their fair share toward our national economic crisis. And you’ve led an administration largely free of scandal, which is rare in American presidential history.
But one of the problems, Mr. President, is that the American people—and especially black folks, your core and most loyal base of supporters—do not know these things. Or your administration has not properly highlighted them. I hear from both white liberals and African-Americans that you are not doing enough, or that you are not doing anything at all. That you are not the same person who campaigned for the presidency in 2008. That you lack courage, that you are in the back pockets and purses of the super-rich in America.
I hear this everywhere I go, as I travel to various colleges and universities to deliver speeches. I hear it at my barbershop and when I am playing basketball with the fellas. I hear it during church services and at community events. I have certainly heard it from very vocal black critics like Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West. While some may dismiss Mr. Smiley and Dr. West as haters, if you listen carefully to what they are saying, you begin to realize the duo is speaking for large segments of black America, despite the harshness of the criticism. I think your problem, sir, with black America was compounded when you spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual dinner a few months back. One thing black people don’t take too kindly to is someone telling us to “stop complaining,” especially when, in point of fact, whites—both liberals and conservatives—have been your loudest critics, not us.
Your comments showed a lack of respect for the history of blacks in America, a reckless disregard for the fact that you would not be president were it not for our collective history of struggle and sacriﬁce, and it suggested that you may even be a bit out of touch, Mr. President.
For if we simply survey the landscape, we see black unemployment wildly out of control nationwide. We see that a very high percentage of Americans losing their homes during this foreclosure epidemic are African-Americans. We see that only 47 percent of black males in America graduate from high school each year. We see a dysfunctional American public school system that is failing our girls and boys. We see one black business after another collapse under the weight of the Great Recession. We see record numbers of black males becoming a part of America’s prison-industrial complex. And we see a level of frustration and despair in our urban areas manifesting itself in black-on-black violence and out-of-control crime.
Regardless of these grim realities, Mr. President, many of us remain steadfastly behind you. We have the political and emotional maturity to understand we did not elect you president of black America, of young America, of hip-hop America: You are the president of the United States. But, alas, we are also politically and emotionally aware enough to know that other groups—be they our Jewish sisters and brothers, or our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers— routinely have their agendas presented to you, and their concerns are noted and addressed.
And we know the mostly young, white-led Occupy movements multiplying themselves across America even as I write this open letter have gotten your attention, because you’ve responded to them directly. For sure, Mr. President, their occupation is nothing more than the “Resurrection City” of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign. They are calling for economic justice just as Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy did in the 1960s. Perhaps most striking, President Obama, is that the Occupy protestors are challenging you and your policies directly, mainly because you yourself planted the seeds of change and hope with your 2008 campaign. The people have decided they cannot wait for you, and that they are going to take matters into their own hands, including all those voters who made you our commander in chief.
What I am getting at, sir, is that we need you, and you need us. We need you to think outside the box and come up with the kind of revolutionary programs that Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson created before you, programs that will speak directly to our needs and concerns in black America. I know you cannot say the word “black” much, Mr. President, because America remains a society so deeply damaged by racism that our ﬁrst black president can’t even fully be his black self for fear of reactionary whites and others saying he is “too black” or catering too much “to his own people.” I get that. But you can be creative and use other words and terms just as President Johnson used terms like “war on poverty” and “urban” in his day. And, ultimately, whatever beneﬁts us will in fact beneﬁt America because we are all in this together. If any group is able to rise, it makes America that much richer.
The worst-case scenario, President Obama, is that you lose the election in November 2012. The Republican Party, fueled by the antics of the tea party, is certainly doing everything it can to unseat you. We know you inherited an economic disaster, but it is now yours to ﬁx, no one else’s. We know you inherited wars on multiple fronts, but they are now yours to end, or many who’ve supported you will call you too a warmonger. We know that politics has been crippled by the ﬁnancial stranglehold of the wealthy, but it is up to you to make us everyday Americans—the people who are, without question, the 99 percent—feel that our voices matter, too.
I shudder to think about what we will feel if the Republicans defeat you come November. To me, the fallout would be similar to eight years of Reagan-era policies and the sting of George W. Bush’s Supreme Court–enabled victory back in 2000 (despite Al Gore receiving more votes). It would be the quick and all-too-sudden end of an era in which we truly believed change could not only happen, but that it could be sustained. For black America, particularly, it would be like a death in the family, of this I am sure. No matter how mad some of us colored folks are at you, nothing you say or do could be worse than what a Republican will say or do to continue to erase the very crumb-like victories of the Civil Rights years.
Finally, Mr. President, I know some leaders are elected while some are chosen. I ﬁrmly believe that you were chosen by a higher power to be a leader in these times. And if there was ever a time for you to return to the magic of what you represented during your 2008 campaign, it is now. You need that magic, we need that magic, and the world needs that magic, magic that will serve as the bridge between what is now and what can be. But it will not happen, sir, if you, me, all of us together, don’t heed the lessons and victories of 2008 and make them manifest now. And if not now, then when? And if not you, me, all of us together, then who, sir?
Kevin Powell is an activist, public speaker, editor, and author. His 11th book, “Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays” (www.lulu.com) is out in February. Follow him on Twitter: @Kevin_Powell
Let me close with this comment regarding these two articles that address an important part of our personal and political landscapes. And, it is personal because it involves each and everyone of us. Don’t deny the truth. Do not exclude the comments as trivial. These are comments made by well intentioned individuals who perceive what they truly believe is true, based on the information that they gather in their travels and discussing with individuals that pass on information to them. I appreciate these writers who are willing to take a chance to say what they feel. I look to them because I trust that they are truthful. That is important. Are they being truthful to us in their comments and are they adding information that all of us can use in our daily lives and dealings? This time that we are in is an important time. We Americans are truly being tested because of all the different opinions we face in our daily lives. Some of us are challenged because we are unable to sort out the differences that are before us. Some of us have changed as people because of the daily deluge of information that is fed to us each day, because of political parties, daily change of opinions on news programs and media programs. All of that and more change how we think and judge. I am hearing stories that I will address in my future blogs.
I have told you that I wish my blog to be informative and enlightening to you. To take you places that you may not have been. I try to do that. I do not agree with everything I hear and read. I try to give you information that is truthful and I am willing to do just that.
Bits and pieces….I am starting a new post today, and it will be the first in my Volume Two of my essays. So this will be Post One/Volume Two and I will have ten posts in each volume so that I can identify the posts I make in the future…..the presidential debates would have already happened, so I will be watching and commenting on the blog after the debates…Tuesday, October 2 was a great day. I joined my family and others to the Campaign for Vice President, Joe Biden in Charlotte. This was a first experience for me to be included in a presidential campaign and the day was fabulous. The Vice President was his usual feisty self commenting on the differences in the campaign with the opponent in the race. Additionally, the Vice President greeted the crowd, shaking hands (including mine) and taking pictures with individuals in the crowd, especially this picture with members of my family, including my granddaughter who was truly excited taking a day off from class.
Granddaughter, Lauren Morris, with mom, Shauna Morris and Vice President, Joe Biden at the Vice President’s campaign in Charlotte, NC.
The Current Music Scene
I want to introduce you to my major project at this time and I hope you can continue to join me as I present this discussion on the current music scene. This will be an attempt to dig deep on how I see the current music scene that I think is ever changing and will be searching for its own identity.
I have been having discussions with some younger friends of mine, who have no interest in other kinds of music, except current music that they hear on the radio and other media that presents ‘their’ kind of music. My roots are deep and encompass all kinds of music, so I took on this project because I wish to understand what they are listening to, and why.
To understand what we are about to discuss requires some history because without it we cannot understand or appreciate what we are discussing.
The sound of rock and roll was slowly emerging around the fifties, lead by several dj’s over the country, Dick Clark, Alan Freed and others who were becoming not only producers of their own programs but were becoming stars in their own rights, as the artists that they were producing.
There was a reality that these artists that were emerging were exposing their music to basically white audiences because the Rhythm and Blues artists, mainly Black artists, were emerging as well, with another upstart in the new producer’s chair, Barry Gordy.
All that changed because of one factor, the introduction to the mix, The Beetles, who emerged as a major factor for about three years, and of course, another major group, The Rolling Stones, both of these bands coming from the UK. These two groups were very strong contenders, and even though McCartney and Ringo Starr are still alive and active, McCartney in particular, they left a definitive mark in the history of popular music as we know it. In fact, the Rolling Stones continue to be viable.
So, there were two major sources of music that was focused on the youth market.
We can comment on the historical elements here, but that will be a conversation for another time, as we explore from this time to the current musical streams, that we are involved in now.
I will attempt to explore and comment from articles, discussions, articles and whatever and wherever I can to inform you and hopefully delight you on this current phenomenon.
From the outset we must address a few things regarding this subject. There are a multitude of artists and bands, from probably every culture imaginable. From the list I gathered I believe, is infinite. We will not be able to explore all the artists on the list, but I will try to place them in categories so that I can determine what their music is and a method of identifying them.
My idea is to try to explore as much as I can to what the artist or band is like, their music and how they are presented. These talented people are all recording artists, and I will attempt to place a positive image for each of them to evaluate them in a way that is not negative as I review them. I have tried hard to seek information from articles from Rolling Stone, Wikipedia, iTunes, YouTube, and other sources, etc. and will try to evaluate them accordingly.
With each posting I will choose a group of players that I will discuss with you. Some of them may be familiar to you if you into that kind of music, but understand this demographic is probably a very young audience, maybe no more than thirty in age. Not to say there are people who prefer that kind of music even beyond that age group, but for this investigation I will top it at that age group.
To start, I will discuss these group of performers and bands. I have separated them into categories, based on the information I have gathered.
Frank Ocean: Christopher Francis Ocean (born Christopher Breaux; October 28, 1987), better known by his stage name, Frank Ocean, is an American singer-songwriter from Long Beach, California. When he was around five years old, he and his family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. After Katrina hit New Orleans, to continue recording music, he moved to Los Angeles and intended to stay for six weeks . However, after acclimating himself with music industry circles Ocean planned to stay longer and develop his music career. He recorded demos at a friend’s studio and shopped them around Los Angeles. After getting a songwriting deal, he started working with other record producers and writing songs for artists such as Justin Beiber, John Legendand Brandy. Ocean later said of his work at the time, “There was a point where I was composing for other people, and it might have been comfy to continue to do that and enjoy that income stream and the anonymity. But that’s not why I moved away from school and away from family.”
Adam Lambert/modern pop: Adam is one of the American Idol winners and a now thirty year old pop singer and actor. He has lots of experience as an artist, and with his competitions and performances he has become a persistent and credible performing artist. He pays tribute to his influences that include Michael Jackson, Madonna, Freddie Mercury and David Bowie to name a few. He has two recording releases, his current, Trespassing.
Karmin/pop duo: An American pop duo, with Amy Heldemann and Nick (Louis) Noonan. A band known for their covers. Students while attending Berklee College, and had their first release, an EP, in May of 2010.
Their recording of Brokenhearted has gotten much airplay, especially since the group is very new on the scene, especially appearing on TV shows, Ellen DeGeneneres and the Tonight Show.
Alicia Keys: Alicia is an electric, eclectic and creative artist, pianist, singer, composer and performer. She is an in-person performer who excels at her craft. Alicia is a well trained classical pianist and singer and made her debut after graduating from Professional Performing Art School in New York. She has a long resume of hits, composed songs, numerous awards in music. She is a complete artist.
On this list is a few of the artists that we can discuss about at the completion of the short biographies. Listening to their music in the different genres into which they perform I have decided to bring the chosen few to your attention and evaluate and determine how they bring their music to a major audience. There will be more to be evaluated.
Finis: Finally we come to the debate that took place Wednesday evening. Gov. Romney took charge of the debate, even over Jim Lehrer, who moderated. The Govenor was aggressive and President Obama while looking presidential was not on his game and was unable to counter the aggressiveness that Gov. Romney displayed. While there were comments made after the debate about the credibility that Gov. Romney displayed on his assertions, he had a very credible night. More debates to come. We’ll see.