Nothing Compares 2 Prince

29 Apr

PrinceNaked on a white Pegasus horse with Afrosheen relaxed hair, or maybe, press and curl. Mouth rimmed with feathery moustache befitting a new prince.

He played every instrument. Every instrument.  Wrote every song. Recorded and produced the entire album.  I had never heard of such a thing.  I was 17. Prince was 21. This was not my crushing on Off The Wall Michael Jackson.  This was a bit dangerous. Like how [Read more…]

Seeing The Unseen: Reflecting On The New Works At The Wilbury Theatre Play, Invisible Upsouth by Christopher Johnson in collaboration with Vatic Kuumba

9 Mar

Invisible UpSouth, Wilbury Theatre GroupThis past Saturday I attended a full day of cultural events around the city, all related in some way to race and social justice on both a national, and local to Providence, level. I started out visiting the [Read more…]

Get Your Culture On! Must-See’s And Do’s This Weekend In Providence!

3 Mar

I think it’s always good to go beyond the cultural spaces you continually find yourself in.  Cross over to another part of town.  Explore a new artist’s work. That’s how I expand on my experience of the world, how my life becomes more full, more rich.

So much going on here in Providence this weekend culturally, and white folks, if you keep thinking you need to get out beyond the white bubble you’re living in, here are some opportunities to enter new spaces, explore new artists’ work, and ponder current matters of art, race and racism.

Invisible Upsouth, Thursday, March 3 – Sunday, March 6, 2016, with Christopher Johnson and Vatic Kuumba, Wilbury Theatre, 393 Broad Street, Providence (Tickets: $10 – $15)

Wilbury Theater Group

Invisible Upsouth, The Wilbury Theater Group

I was excited when local, yet nationally-acclaimed poet and arts educator, Christopher Johnson, told me he was selected to write, direct and act in his first play. You wont’ want to miss (I’m going this weekend)  Christopher’s play, Invisible UpSouth a New Works Program play commissioned by  The Wilbury Theatre Group

Christopher wrote and produced the play along with poet, Vatic Kuumba.  The play, inspired by the important classic, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, is described as..“part reflection, part conversation, and part examination on living in [what we’re told is] a post-racial society. But what does “post-racial” mean to the people who suffer under conditions of “everyday” racism? What does modern-day poverty look like in our community? Who holds the power in the power structure? What is considered a riot? How is an act, a verb, a word, changed depending the culture associated with it – with the race engaging in it?  [Read more…]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Corinee Bailey Rae – Been To The Moon

28 Feb

Corinne Bailey Rae

Corinne Bailey Rae – photo credit: thisisrealmusic.com

Corinne Bailey Rae. Yes, you remember her 2006 Put Your Records On and Like A Star, and then she seemed to drop out of sight, right?  It’s said the British singer took a hiatus after [Read more…]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Vanity 6, featuring Denise Matthews – Nasty Girl

21 Feb

Denise Matthews

Denise Matthews

A lot of us who were dancing in clubs in the 80’s can probably picture themselves moving to, or mouthing the words to, Vanity 6’s hit, Nasty Girl.  And, I saw on social media that hearing of the lead singer Vanity’s passing this week at the age of 57 due to kidney ailments, saddened many all over the world.

Vanity actually renounced her stage name and returned to her born name, Denise Matthews, in the late 1990’s. She had found God following an overdose on cocaine, and became an evangelist who spoke all over the country about her transformation.

Born in Ontario, Canada, Denise started [Read more…]

Thinking Out Loud, And Not The Ed Sheeran Thinking Out Loud, Though I Do Love That Lovely Song, This Is My Thinking Out Loud On Integration In Our Day-To-Day Lives

19 Feb

Crown Heights, NY

Crown Heights, NY – photo by Mo Scarpelli

It’s four years into my blog journey and it’s like you think you know what your blog is about and going to be about when you start out, but then, like life itself, the focus shifts and turns.  I started out wanting to explore what happens when we connect across colorlines, and the how and the why of why I’ve always been drawn to connect with others different than me, why I’ve been attracted to black culture, and matters of racial equality.

Then, with all that’s happened in the past few years in relation to race and racism, I found myself needing to write about [Read more…]

4 Year Anniversary of WJSS today! – Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Beyonce – Formation

14 Feb

Beyonce, Formation VideoYou’d have to be très isolated to not hear about the stir the new Beyonce video, Formation, and her performance at the SuperBowl 50 caused this past week.

Formation is Beyonce embracing her blackness in all it’s glory, everything from [Read more…]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s The Way Of The Word – Rest In Peace, Maurice White

7 Feb

Maurice White, Earth, Wind & Fire

Maurice White, Earth Wind & Fire

Countless people all over the world expressed their sadness at the passing of Maurice White, 74, founder of Earth, Wind & Fire, this week. I was also sad when I heard the news because EWF was the soundtrack of my youth.

There are many who could expound much more articulately than me about the band, who were simply epic in terms of what they brought to the world–a new sound, a blend of jazz, soul, r & b, funk, and disco, with expert musicianship–all wrapped up in Maurice’s vision of creating an experience that was not just about the music, but a spiritual experience intertwined, or, living as one, with the music.

I know I have many of their albums in a bin in my basement waiting for when I finally get a turntable again.  And I know memories will spill forth when I do listen to them, just like they are this weekend as I play EWF songs on youtube–memories of our high school cheerleaders doing a pom pom routine to Shining Star, dancing in my bedroom to September and Saturday Night, or laying on my bed listening to the  big-picture, universal messages of Maurice White singing songs like Devotion and That’s The Way Of The World.  I’ve also been told that Reasons was the perfect song to make out to while parking, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.  Nor did I ever mimic Philip Bailey singing Reasons while in a car making out with someone.

I don’t have a favorite, because there are so many amazing songs they created, some popular, some more obscure, but I think for today I’ll play That’s The Way Of The World, because it’s a beautiful song with a beautiful message. A child is born…and a gifted musician and artist passes on…that’s the way of the world…

Rest In Peace, Maurice White. Thank you for the gift of music and spirituality as one that you bestowed upon our generation, and of course, generations to come, as your music and your message is timeless.

Readers, please share your favorite EWF songs, memories, and words of tribute in the Comments section below.

SOURCE:

www.youtube.com, Earth Wind and Fire, That’s The Way Of The World, posted by Kenneth

photo credit:  www.earthwindandfire.com

Revisiting “Is Poppy A Black American?” During Black History Month

5 Feb

 I first started working on this piece when my older daughter, Leni, was five years old.  At sixteen now, she has a more formed opinion about her mother’s obsession with race relations, and has even written a few posts for me on WJSS.

little sister, Darla, Poppy, and Leni

little sister, Darla, Poppy, and Leni

“Mommy, I have a secret to tell you,” my then, five-year old daughter Leni exclaimed, as we sat eating lunch in a Pennsylvania pub-style restaurant.

We were on a summer road trip, traveling from Tulsa, Oklahoma where we had lived for several years, to my home state of Connecticut. Leni and her little sister Darla were going to visit their grandpa, their “Poppy.”

Cupping her hand over my ear, Leni whispered… [Read more…]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Macklemore with Jamila Woods and other artists- White Privilege II

31 Jan

White Privilege 2 interview with Jay Smooth

White Privilege 2 interview with Jay Smooth

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis just released their eight-minute song, White Privilege II (Apparently, Macklemore recorded a song White Privilege in 2005), and as expected it is being met with a mix of guarded praise, skepticism, and direct criticism.

It’s definitely complicated.  A white rapper, raps about his own white privilege, his place in wanting to help break down the systems of racism but [Read more…]