Archive for January, 2014

At the Grammy Awards 2014

Posted: January 28, 2014 in music, radio
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And so I write this from backstage at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. I arrived a little after 2pm because even as there is the international broadcast of the awards, there is a 3-4 hour pre-show presenting the coveted award to musicians from all sorts of genres. American Roots Music… Bluegrass, Zydeco, Hawaiian, Country, Opera, Music Video, Music Film, Music in a video game, spoken word and so many more…

I was impressed with the Mariachi Divas especially when someone asked the leader who appears to be a non Mexican(I am not sure) how she got into this type of music. She let him know that she is from Los Angeles and mariachi is everywhere. And most def it is!!!! I got a good laugh from that….

Most of the R&B, Urban, Rap and Gospel categories are awarded in this pre-show….

Now, I don’t know about you but I am feeling some kind of way about this. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the Academy and how they embrace the entirety of music genres in America. And I know that there is limited time to present awards from all genres during the international telecast. I get it. However, when I watch this pre-show and most of the artists are not even present to accept this award. Knowing this, the Academy has Jimmy Jam rush through all of the categories. This, because they know that most of the artists are not even there.

We have to do something to get stronger representation at the Academy.


Capetown, South Africa

Posted: January 24, 2014 in 1

Capetown, South Africa

Join us as we visit the beautiful country of South Africa.. Our eclectic mix of music, history and fun is unmatched by most tours in the nation. Let’s go!!!

ok.. I finally went to see 12 Years a Slave. Like many black folk, this film about slavery had not made it to my must see list. In fact, I had no intention of watching the film until all the hoopla and protests against the film began to surface. Then I was compelled to see it just so I could form my own opinion. It is a powerfully violent piece that left me feeling some kind of way.

Now certainly it has been a banner year for black film. But the films that received the highest regard from critics and industry are those that depict black folk in a position of servitude. Lee Daniels’ The Butler is a true story about a butler in the White House and his journey through several presidential administrations. A poignant examination of a generation of black servitude that reminded me so much of my father and his occupation in the United States Navy. While he enjoyed rank and privilege among enlisted personnel, his job was primarily to serve the senior officers aboard the mighty vessels of war he was stationed on. Much like The Butler, he heard and saw a lot as he served tea and meals in those wardrooms. There are many stories like this in the annals of black US History. Our parents and grandparents lived a life of humble servitude so that they could pay for and pave the way for our college educations and ultimately our cultural, academic and spiritual advancement in this country. It is a generation that swore to advance the race through their service.

In 12 years a slave, Steve McQueen brings to life the story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man who is kidnapped in slavery days and finds himself picking cotton with the rest of them. It is a sobering, powerful, Imageemotional and insightful expose’ of slavery in America. It is a true story. Gleaned from a book written by Solomon as a literary account of what actually happened to him. It screams the old adage that no matter what station in life one climbs to, to them your are still just a n*^&r….

Most of my friends have a almost violent aversion to seeing 12 Years a Slave. The notion in the hood is that we don’t need to be reminded what we went through as blacks in America. Folk want to know why, in this day and age – an age where we have overcome to the point of electing a black President – do we have these films depicting the black man in servitude. We say that surely, there must be more redeeming stories out there that would find success on the silver screen. To underscore the pain of the community, these films receive tremendous acceptance and acclaim from the general market cinematic observers. These films are among the first mentioned when prognosticators mention the front running prospects for the annual awards.

I was one who avoided 12 Years a Slave at its release. I only viewed it after hearing so much hoopla and critical acclaim. I listened to the water cooler talk… and indeed all over the community, in the coffeeshops, the bookstores and restaurants and even at church brothas and sistas ain’t havin’ no part of a film about slavery. My experience left me with a variety of emotions. I found the story to be intriguing. Yet, I was moved to intense anger as the film’s characters spewed hatred, violence and brutality on a level that we knew existed, but as it played out on the screen, it shocked to our very core.

At the end of the film, the entire theater was stone cold silent. There were no white folk in the theater when I viewed this film so I do not have the luxury of observing how they felt after the film. But as I read the reviews and analyses of the film I see that they think it is a redeeming piece of cinema. A fascinating examination of a very dark chapter in the history of these United States. wow.

And so we are left asking why these films in this day and time. We are at a point where we are seeing equality on a level that was only dreamed of in recent and past generations. We are at a point in history where a black face can be found in almost every walk of American life. And then the film industry puts out a film reminding us about our brutal experience as slaves. Films about our humble, shuffling circumstance serving the white, rich and powerful. Why in this time?? Why in this day?

There are those who would say that the younger generations need to be reminded and educated on what our ancestors went through in order to get what we have today. I agree. We must never forget. Yet, there are those who say we just don’t need to be reminded of our violent past. We already know how we got to this point. I agree. We must keep our eye on the prize and keep forging ahead and making strides.

Like I said, 12 Years a Slave left me feeling some kind of way…….