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 distraction for Maya so that Minnie and her husband, songwriter and music producer, Richard Rudolph, could spend time together.  That makes me not feel so bad as a mother who when her daughters were babies and toddlers tried to do the same, only I could never use my singing to distract since I’m the world’s worst singer, which I used to blame my mother for, because she was a terrible singer, too.

Loving You, came out in 1975, but I remember listening to it intensely in the early 1980’s.  Just entering my 20’s, I was at a low-point, letting myself be defined by a boyfriend, letting him make me feel unimportant, unworthy of positive attention, letting him make me feel that I was a bad person, unworthy of love.

One day during that time period, I sat on the floor of my apartment in Boston, my head resting on my arms atop the couch cushion, and I played Loving You, over and over again, getting up to change the needle on the record player to repeat the song.  As I listened to Minnie’s otherworldly voice croon about love, and as I stared at her gorgeous, flawless face on the album cover, I decided that if there could be such beauty in the world–the beauty coming through Minnie Riperton’s soul and out into her voice, and if she could show like my mother showed to me, her love for her daughter, then there is hope in this world, too, and there is hope for me to not feel so dark inside.

We are mothers.  We are human.  Sometimes we want to distract our children so we can breathe for ourselves, but always we love. Minnie Riperton showed her love for her daughter Maya through song, and I am certain in many other ways.  It is sad that her love and her gift of music was cut short though. Riperton died in 1979 at the age of 31 from breast cancer when Maya was only seven years old.

On September 10, 2001, I was at a fashion event in NYC (I’m not one of those people that hobnobbed in this way usually–this was a special, one-time thing that you can read more about in my post on 9/11).  At the after-party I spotted Maya Rudoph in the crowd.  I wanted to go up to her and tell her about how her mother saved me from my depression but I thought she’d think I was some crazed fan and maybe run the other way.  Now, as I write this I think she may have appreciated my story.

Mothers are always there for us in darkness and in light.  My mother lifted me out of darkness a million times–anything from a scrape on my knee, to the countless boyfriend break-ups, to coming to stay with me when I was feeling lonely when I first moved to New York City in my mid-twenties.  My mother celebrated all the moments of lightness with me–from ballet recitals, to gymnastic recitals, to supporting my good relationships, to being my  salesperson at the Javitz Center in NYC when I was promoting hand-painted, embellished ballet flats I created.  My mother, a beautiful woman inside and out, was a gifted artist, and gave me the love of art and creativity.  It is hard for me to believe that she passed away twenty-seven years ago, and I miss her dearly.  Today I remember her, and her hugs.  My mother gave the best hugs in the world.  Today I remember that I am a mother, too, to my two beautiful, amazing daughters, Leni and Darla.  I hope that I can give them the hugs throughout their lives that feel like the best hugs in the world to them, too.

My beautiful mother, Sue Strisik Grossman and me

My beautiful mother, Sue Strisik Grossman, and me



Happy Mother’s Day. xo


Mother's Day, 2014 - Leni, Darla and me

Mother’s Day, 2014 – Leni, Darla and me







www.youtube.com, Minnie Riperton, Loving You

9 Responses to “WJSS Weekend Sounds – Happy Mother’s Day w/Loving You by Minnie Riperton”

  1. Vickie May 10, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    Happy Mother’s Day Wendy! I never knew she was chanting her child’s name in that song. I’m going to have to listen to it again.

    • Wendy Jane May 10, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

      Happy Mother’s Day, Vickie! Yes, you can hear it in the unedited longer version of the song on the album. It’s wonderful to hear. Thanks so much for reading.

  2. karen kidd May 10, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    Awe…what a lovely article, Wendy. Now, I must listen to this song again. Thank you for sharing. XO.

    • Wendy Jane May 10, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

      Thank you, Karen. Oh my gosh–I just realized that I forgot to post the video with the article. oy vey!

      • Darlene May 10, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

        Beautiful post, Wendy.

        I didn’t know Maya’s mom sang that. I guess she inherited her lovely voice…..

        Ah, moms. That unconditional love like no one else can give. Irma, too, supports and lifts me up after anything. I’m not a mom because I didn’t think I could do all that. I bet you are a wonderful mother and give your girls the best hugs like your mom gave you <3

        Happy Mother's Day, Wendy!

        • Wendy Jane May 10, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

          Oh, thanks so much, Darlene. So true about that unconditional love. It’s so nice to hear how Irma Sue always did and still lifts you up. I’m sure you would be a wonderful Mom, too–you are a giving person, a healer.

          Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment on this post.


  3. Sherry Gordon May 11, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    Dear Wendy Jane,

    Hi, there, my sweet white sister, Wendy Jame! Sisterfriend, I goofed! I missed seeing this yesterday somehow! I checked on my computer again after I came home from church and didn’t see this beautiful and lovely blog post article and then did not go on the computer again until just now-usually I go on the computer more often in a day than that but yesterday somehow I didn’t as I usually would! Happy Mother’s Day To You and To You,
    my dearly special and precious white sisterfriend and to your dearest and darling girls Leni an Darla!!!!!!! What beautiful and lovely pictures of you with your dearest and darling late mother-I remember from an earlier blog post article how she so sadly died of brain cancer when you were only 26!!!!!! She sounds like she was just the greatest and the most wonderful person, sister!!!!! I love also the beautiful and lovely picture with you and your Leni and Darla!!!!!! What a great gift to be a mother!!!!!! Since I am a lesbian and not involved with a man I never had children but I love children so, so very much!!!!!! Also, with me being so indigent on a low, fixed income with my disability benefits I chose to also not have children through some other means because I would have been heartbroken for any children of mine to go without what they need since I never had the money to take care of children! Sisterfriend, I so love this very lovely and beautiful blog post article of yours!!!!!! My late mother was a very difficult person although I forgave her ages ago and I love her so, so very dearly!!!!!! Our Good God has let me know somehow that she is now at Perfect Peace in our Heaven in the way she was not at peace in her life-this is of great comfort to me. My family situation was very horrendous growing up with very heinous abuse towards me in every way and with alcoholism and addictions running rampant up and down both sides of my family with both of my parents and very many others!!!!!!! I am not in contact with them to keep me safe and protected from their violence although I love them so dearly and For Always pray for them! Even though my late mother was a very abusive and difficult person, I love her so and I can still find the good in her as well, my sweet white sisterfriend!!!!!! I have overcome so much being in current and ongoing therapy for decades to recover and heal from having this kind of family background and having been currently and on-going in my very, very many 12-
    Step programs as a recovering and a healing person like in AA and NA-I have been doing so much better over many years and I will be celebrating my 25th clean and sober anniversary in AA and NA one day at a time by God’s Grace on Wednesday, August 5, 2015!!!!!! I am so, so very proud of myself, sister, for doing so, so very much better over all of these decades!!!!!!

    Wendy Jane, I just so love this cool and soothing musical contribution of yours of the serene song, Loving You, by the late Minnie Riperton!!!!! I am so, so very impressed with you and proud of you over how you overcame the severe maltreatment by that horrible ex-boyfriend and found the strength to break away from him and to love yourself from this great song!!!!!! I am like that as well as I have and continue to gain strength from certain songs I have heard over the years, Wendy Jane!!!!!! Sister, you are just so, so very incredibly strong to have overcome that maltreatment from that horrid ex-boyfriend-I am so, so very proud of you and impressed by how you survived his maltreatment of you, my precious friend!!!!!

    I think of my favorite next door neighbors growing up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. They were a white family and their two youngest daughters were Joe and Tony’s age. Their mother was such a strong part of my very heart and I think of her as another mother!!!!! I love this family so!!!!!! I think that our Good God placed this family as my next door neighbors growing up to help me to cope with all of the abuse I was getting at home!!!!!!! I would often go next door when things were getting too hot at home!!!!! The one good thing about my family background was that we were black middle class and my parents had a little bit of money to work with.

    Wendy Jane, I thank-you so for this greatly grand and preciously magnificent blog post article of yours and musical contribution!!!!!!! My sweet white sister, please have a marvelous and a magnificent Monday, and a wondrously wonderful week ahead, my sweet white friend!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my sweet white sister, Wendy Jane, with Peace and Love To You For Always, my sweet white friend, with Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always,

    Your lesbian black friend and sister For Always in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

    • Wendy Jane May 11, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

      Hello Sherry,

      Thank you so much for reading this post. I am always so inspired by how much you have overcome in your life, and wow, how amazing that in August you will celebrate 25 years of sobriety!! I’m also glad that you had your next door neighbors to go to to help deal with the difficulties going on in your home.

      Thanks for your kind words about the post on Minnie Riperton. I always appreciate your words of encouragement and support.

      Stay well sisterfriend!

      Wendy Jane

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. WJSS: Looking Back on 2015; Wishing To Find Hope | Wendy Jane's Soul Shake - December 31, 2015

    […] For Mother’s Day I shared a memory of how Minnie Riperton saved me, and then right after that in June, Rachel Dolezal happened. Better than that, was my high-school friend, Kevin Ivester’s son Tyler Ivester’s essay on unconscious bias. In July I stayed closer to home, and wrote about how people from the Mt. Hope neighborhood were working to improve conditions for young people in the city. […]

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