Dancing With The Queen: The Magic Of Ga’amang Mama G, Or How I Spent My Summer Vacation in Jamaica

31 Aug

Ga'amang Mama G

Ga’amang Mama G. Wouldn’t you want to dance with her?

“Just tell the story like you told it to me. I had goose bumps when you told me,” said my writing friend, Susan, when I lamented that I wanted to write about my recent trip to Jamaica, but loathed that the story looming inside my head felt like I’d be turning my summer vacation into a book report.

My daughters, Leni, 15 and Darla, 13 accompanied me on the trip, a gracious invitation from my friend, Diana Fox, an Anthropology Professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Diana, whose work focuses on the Caribbean, has been visiting and forging relationships with people and communities in both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago for over twenty years, and has developed student fieldwork trips to both islands.

This summer, she and Assistant Professor of English, Allyson Ferrante, took thirteen students to Jamaica, stopping in Kingston, the Blue Mountains, the village of Bluefields, and Negril, in service of studying cultural heritage tourism efforts created by local Jamaican individuals and community groups, as opposed to the majority of tourism that is controlled by European, U.S. and other entities outside of the island. Darla, Leni and I joined the group a week and a half into their tour, visiting Bluefields and Negril. [Read more…]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: LL Cool J – I Need Love

26 Jul

LL Cool J I Need Love

LL Cool J

I saw via Okayplayer that July 22nd marked the 28 year anniversary of LL Cool J’s I Need Love, so I had to pay respect and feature it on WJSS Weekend Sounds.  Plus, I need love.

I remember when this came out,  thinking how smooth LL was, but I didn’t realize that I Need Love actually gave birth to the rap ballad, allowing LL and many rappers who followed, a chance to shed their hardcore personas for a softer, more romantic side.

No more to be said about this classic song and video which truly reflect the time in which they were made.  You only have to watch and listen.

SOURCE:  www.youtube.com, I Need Love, by LL Cool J, posted by LLCOOLJVeVO


photo credit: www.media.tumblr.com



Proud Mama: My Daughter Leni’s First Guest Post on Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake

17 Jul


my daughter, Leni

Ever since I can remember, my mom has never failed to inform me on race and black culture. I even questioned my mom, when I was about 5, if my grandpa was black because he’s not pasty like me. I wasn’t confused. I didn’t really think anything of it. I just wanted to know if he was black.

When I first found out what racism was, I didn’t understand. I understood what it was but I didn’t understand why. When I first got a gist of learning about racism, it was most likely around the time they taught about slavery in school. That’s when I started to notice it more in my school.

My middle school was not as diverse as my high school is. My middle school is on the East Side of Providence, Rhode Island, where the majority of the kids are [Read more…]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Cheerleader by OMI

12 Jul



Just back from a week-long vacation to Jamaica with my two daughters, and friends.  I’ll be posting about the awe-inspiring–on many levels–trip in the coming week, but thought it fitting to play a Jamaican hit song popular here in the U.S., all over Europe, and of course, in Jamaica.  The song is Cheerleader by Jamaican artist, OMI.

I first heard the song while driving in the car with my daughters right before the trip.  Darla called out, “oh, it’s the Cheerleader song!” A few days later as we sat at the outdoor bar at the waterfront Luna Sea Inn in the small Jamaican town,Bluefields, (part of the Westmoreland parish), the personable bar manager, Norris, called out in the very same way Darla had, “…it’s the Cheerleader song..”  Darla and her friend Sophia in their seats, and the inn staff milling around, started to sing and bop along to the upbeat tune.

I learned from Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner, (which the artwork I purchased by local artist Jah Calo, was wrapped in–more on Jah in my upcoming blog post) that Cheerleader first came out as a ska song in 2012, but didn’t gain it’s popularity until German music producer, Felix Jaehn, remixed the song, adding African drums, a saxophone interlude, and speeded up the tempo. Believe it or not, it’s the first Jamaican crossover hit to break the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 since Sean Paul’s 2003 hit, Get Busy.

Bob Marley and the Wailers, other Marley family members, and Jamaican reggae artists of conscious, ska, and dancehall music have entered the Billboard Top 100 charts, and/or have held a big place in fan’s hearts over the years, but as far as commercial, crossover success, it’s been a long time coming.  Jamaicans are proud of their fellow artist, and fans the world over are getting to better know the music of OMI because of Cheerleader.


Cheerleader by OMI, the Felix Jaehn Remix


Cheerleader, by OMI, the original 2012 ska version



www.youtube. com, Cheerleader by OMI, posted by OMI Music Online, 2012

www.youtube.com, Cheerleader by OMI (Felix Jaehn remix), posted by Ultra Music, 2015

The Gleaner, OMI Breaks Billboard Hot 100 Top 10, June 20, 2015

Photo credit:  www.ideasjamaica.com

Learn more about OMI at:  www.omimusiconline.com

Youth Voices: 17 Year-Old Tyler Ivester Nails Unconscious Bias

19 Jun

Tyler Ivester

Tyler Ivester

I’ve known Tyler Ivester’s dad, Kevin, since we went to the same elementary school, and then on to high school together in Waterbury, Connecticut.  Wilby High, in the late 1970’s had a student body that was 40% black, about 10% Hispanic, and 50% white. Kevin and I shared a few classes together over the years, and when we’d see each other dashing through the hallways in between class, it never failed that Kevin would shout out, “hey white girl!”, and I’d return back with, “hey, black boy!” and if we were running up three sets of stairs together to get to English class, we’d repeat our greetings over and over until we reached our destination.  It was our thing, our casual term of endearment for one another. [Read more…]

Black Like Rachel Dolezal

12 Jun

I heard about Rachel Dolezal this morning via Facebook and all I could muster was, “Wow.”

I scrolled down my Newsfeed and [Read more…]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Rest In Peace Louis Johnson of The Brothers Johnson

24 May

The Brothers Johnson

The Brothers Johnson, Louis (L), George (R)

I loved, loved, loved The Brothers Johnson, and used to dance to their albums all the time in high school.  I am not musically inclined, and never played any instruments, but I still say if I could learn how to play one instrument it would be the base because I’d get to bang out all those funky beats.

Louis Johnson, aka “Thunder Thumbs”, of The Brothers Johnson played those funky beats alongside his brother, guitarist, George “Lightning Licks” during the 70’s and early 80’s, before parting ways to work on separate projects.  Louis was always in high demand to work on other artist’s albums, including George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Michael McDonald, Steve Arrington, and was the bassist on Michael Jackson’s, Billie Jean.  He is also said to be the originator of the slap bass method of playing the instrument where one  ‘slaps’ the strings with the right thumb and ‘pops’ with the right hand fingers, giving a percussive characteristic to a note’s sound.

Sadly, Louis Johnson passed away on May 21st, 2015 at the age of 60.

I have to play two songs of The Brothers Johnson because while the first is I think my favorite, it doesn’t show the fierce funk that Louis was capable of.  So, here is Strawberry Letter 23, followed by Get The Funk Out Ma Face.

Rest In Peace, Thunder Thumbs.

Strawberry Letter 23

Get The Funk Out Ma Face






Photo credit:  www.wikipedia.com

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds – R.I.P. B.B. King – The Thrill Is Gone

17 May

B.B. King

B.B. King

I can’t claim to be a blues aficionado, but everyone knows B.B. King is one of the greatest blues guitarists and singers of all time.

With all the outpouring of love on social media on Friday at the news of his passing, it’s clear that a big hole is left in the hearts of those who loved B.B., his performances, his connection to his famous guitar, “Lucille,” and his catalog of hits.

Here is the poem I put together on Facebook from my friends’ Status Updates that day, and following, King’s hit, The Thrill Is Gone, because clearly, with his passing, it is. And, as an added bonus, I’m including  a song of B.B.’s that was my friend, and real estate broker/owner extraordinaire, Nelson Taylor’s favorite.

Nelson shared after B.B.’s passing: “I grew up listening to the blues. My father was a rhythm and base player and early in his life played with Steve Miller, Bozz Scaggs and Mike Nesmith. He loved the blues and together we listened to 45s on our jukebox and 8 tracks in the van on weekend hunting trips.  My father and I have rarely seen eye to eye–and in fact I no longer speak with him. But music is one place where we’ve always been kindred. We loved, still love, BB King and saw him live more than a few times. I could never learn playing music from my father and he gave it up long ago. The passing of BB King is a loss for sure. The end of something greater than the life and the music. But I feel so lucky that he lived.”



crazy about
that lucille
consummate musician
the b was a bad…
I attended about
10 of his concerts.
a true legend.
legends don’t die.
they transform…
“my only ambition
is to be one of the
great blues singers
and be recognized.
if frank sinatra can
be tops in his field,
nat king cole in his,
bach and beethoven
and those guys in theirs,
why can’t I be
known for it in blues?”
-bb king told the
new york times magazine
in 1968
thank you, bb, for
giving lucille
her voice
and sharing
your music
for so many years
r.i.p. you were
the true king
the thrill is gone

Contributors:  David Hayes, Hakim Mutlaq, Scott MacKay, Chris Tera, The New York Times (B.B. King quote), Gathering Of The Vibes, Patrick Camp, Ellen Koenig


B.B. King, The Thrill Is Gone



Nelson’s pick:  B.B. King, Sweet Little Angel


www.youtube.com, The Thrill Is Gone, B.B. King, Live at Montreux, 1993, posted by Eagle Rock,  and Sweet Little Angel, B.B. King, posted by design flaw

Photo Credit:  Zac Taylor TV



On Being A Brat And Taking A Break From Writing About Race–Easy For a White Girl To Do

15 May

Writer's Block

no such thing as writer’s block.

I’ve been a brat. Not writing. Just ignoring this blog as if it wasn’t my responsibility to keep up with it, thinking, that’s okay, I’ll get back on track

I don’t have any excuses as to why I’m not writing either.  Well, I did recently learn that [Read more…]

WJSS Weekend Sounds – Happy Mother’s Day w/Loving You by Minnie Riperton

10 May

Minnie Riperton

Minnie Riperton

I wanted to choose a song that reflected a mother’s love for her child, and Loving You by Minnie Riperton came to mind.  While Riperton’s angelic voice is singing about an amazingly beautiful “grown-up” kind of love, her chanting of her baby daughter’s name, Maya, (for famed actress and comedienne, Maya Rudolph), at the end of the song made me feel that, like no other, incredible bond, between mother and child.

According to music lore, the song’s melody was created as a [Read more…]