The African Woman: As Defined Through Music.
I started writing this in 2012 at the rate I'm going It will never be completed. I'm inspired by music, it's ability to create Friendships, it unites I love the oldies best. I was inspired to write this only to highlight how Music has influenced economic change, as well as how it has impacted Civil Rights. The Civil Rights movement paved the way surely for African Americans and the Women's Movement, but nothing has managed to close the racial gap quite like music. It inspires us to dream, to want, it teaches and most importantly uplifts us emotionally and mentally through words, beat, rhythm.
Maybe because African Americans have throughout the Years know suffering and deeply embroiled hatred, or simply because they were not held to the same perceived standards of refinement as their Caucasian counterparts. The music they created was the start of a revolt against authority, against what was considered morals, and acceptable behavior to then mainstream American values. The hair got bigger, the tops clingier, the skirts shorter. Women even the genteel Society would in secret defy authority. It wasn't long before Women traded in their dresses, and skirts for pants.
Juke Joints or (Jook Joints), popped up in the seedier corners of the South, owned and operated by African American's they were considered a bawdy house of pleasure the dances were not as staid. Homemade moonshine flowed freely, prohibition whiskey was expensive and could be had when palms were greased, when Police was outwitted, or when borders were crossed. Gambling drew many and the songs sometimes political, sometimes raunchy, not the usual heard on the nicer side of the South.
Music in its basest form has always existed, however, it was in this Social climate that the blues and jazz got its start, helping to propel Women into the workforce. Music gave Women especially the black Woman a voice to live based on their terms and not how a Man defined them. The modern Woman became conscious of the reality that she didn't have to rely on the Male as the sole support of the household, she would not be defined as only a caregiver, she could own a business, and was not only subject to the title of maid, or nanny, gone was the house negro title.
A Big Caboose Will Boost Sales
The sexualization of black Women in the Music industry has been a longstanding one, whereby her white counterpart is seen as ladylike, demure, and genteel. The nexus, or point of reference is a not so subtle look at body image. Suffice it to say, from the age of slavery until now black Women are seen as overtly sexual, while her Caucasian counterpart has a quiet unassuming sexuality. It's all in the curves because physical wise the black Woman has almost more of everything, appealing to the Male libido Men have placed emphasis on the black female form as a tool indicative of sexual promiscuity.
Men who Lack the prerequisite Character.
Black Women have been taught to emphasize those physical qualities, it is assumed that black Women possess no intellectually stimulating attribute. We, since the first black Woman placed on display, grabbed, pinched, poked, and experimented on, have been ostracized, jeered at, and made to accept as actual truth that we are no more than our bodies. That there are no substantive qualities past our hips, lips, and thighs.
But we are so much more, otherwise, there would be no need for our Caucasian counterpart needing to continue their quest to overly enhance their already perfectly okay attributes. We live in a Society in which Men through music have devalued and placed emphasis on how big a Woman's derriere is through music videos. Black Women do a disservice to other Women and also to themselves by mimicking sexually sometimes deviant behavior in an attempt to drive up record sales.
The Woman the Activist
“Black Venus” and “Black Pearl.”
She was outrageous, uninhibited, and a born performer, "Born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker spent her youth in poverty before learning to dance and finding success on Broadway. At the age of 15, she was recruited by St. Louis Chorus Vaudeville. In the 1920s at the age of 19 Years, she moved to France and soon became one of Europe's most popular and highest-paid performers. She worked for the French Resistance during World War II, and during the 1950s and '60s devoted herself to fighting segregation and racism in the United States. After beginning her comeback to the stage in 1973, Josephine Baker died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1975, and was buried with military honors".
Josephine was the first in music History to unite concert goers and insisted that there be no division by color at her performance. She was a remarkable Woman, who throughout her Life gave herself entirely to Equal Rights, her Family reflected that equality, Josephine adopted 12 children in all; Ten boy's and two girl's, creating what she referred to as her "rainbow tribe" and her "experiment in brotherhood". On occasion she invited People to her estate to see these children, to demonstrate that people of different races could live together harmoniously. In 1963 Josephine Baker marched alongside Martin Luther King in Washington.
Josephine Baker paved the way for other entertainers she was the first person, not just the first Woman of African descent to become a World famous entertainer.
Prior To The Civil Rights Movement
Church played a significant part in the lives of Black Women, it's where they learned to be Mothers, where they met their husbands, kept up on the latest gossip, and where they learned how to behave in a more socially acceptable way. Music's restrictive influence is the attributable reason why a great many absolved themselves of Religion and instead frequented Juke Joints.
Most vocalists got their start in churches, Mahalia Jackson was born in New Orleans on October 26, 1911. Dubbed the Queen of Gospel, She grew up singing gospel at the Mount Moriah Baptist Church. The Daughter of a Minister, Mahalia Jackson has inspired a generation vocally as well as visually. Her movie "Imitation of Life" has stuck with me throughout the Years, a grim reminder as to the effects Slavery had, the issues interracial Marriages faced, and it's effect on Children. Mahalia worked with artists like Duke Ellington and Thomas A. Dorsey and also sang at the 1963 March on Washington at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She died on January 27, 1972.
The face of America is changing there are more Children being born from interracial relationships, it is up to us to give them pride in self. America cannot continue its exclusionary practices our Children need to feel significant, that they have a place in this Society, that it doesn't only belong to a select few, after all, we are all human beings and at the heart of this is our shared compassion, our humanity.
"I am learning all the time the tombstone will be my diploma".
(January 17, 1927-December 25, 2008)
"There is a mysterious beauty in sadness", Eartha exemplifies this. I often times wondered about this beautiful spirit, what was she like? How was she influenced by the Society that later viewed her as a sex symbol? No doubt she capitalized on the title, however, If one looked deeply enough there is an underlying sadness.
Born in South Carolina, Annie Mae Kitt, she was abandoned by her mother she grew up not knowing the identity of her Father. The sadness which is ever apparent may have been a result of abandonment issues at such a young age.
Like so many of her generation, who sought sanctuary Countries due to America's racism. Eartha sought and became famous in Paris France. It was no secret that Eartha came from poor beginnings, in the 1920's America was still uncivilized and racism still prevailed. Work was contained to washerwoman, Nanny, housekeeper or field hand. After being abandoned by her Mother Eartha was taken in by her Aunt. She was physically, emotionally and mentally abused, she was made to work in the cotton fields; not unusual for Blacks back then, however being mixed or biracial was less acceptable than it is now, it left an indelible scar on the Woman who attained stardom. It was at the tender age of 8 Years old that Eartha, relocated to New York City to live with yet another Aunt. There, she enrolled in the New York School of Performing Arts. Eartha won a scholarship to study with Katherine Dunham and later joined Dunham's dance troupe. She eventually split from the troupe going solo.
According to Adam Luck, Eartha "came from a dirt-poor background and only found out her date of birth when she was 71. But according to her daughter, Kitt Shapiro, who chose not to co-operate with the biography, when Eartha launched a legal fight to gain access to the birth certificate she fell victim to a cover-up by officials. The singer, who died in 2008, wept when she set eyes on the certificate in 1998, only to find that her father's name had been blacked out, said Shapiro, her only child, who had accompanied her mother. Shapiro said in an interview with the Observer: "My mother was 71 at the time and it was approaching the 21st century, and yet they were still protecting the name of the father even though he was clearly dead".
"The price we pay for being ourselves is worth it" Eartha Kitt.
Big Mama Thornthon
Recorded such greats as" Hound Dog" written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stollerstill for Ms. Thornton was released in the Year 1952 and purports to have sold well over 750,000. Although not intentional it helped to unfairly define the black male, as never faithful, and always chasing Women. Now the term is a universal one describing all men. Non-race specific, contrary to popular beliefs the song was not made popular by Elvis Presley. "Rock Me Baby" its sexual innuendo, expressly spoke of Black Women as being oversexed.
The song "Summertime" was the turning point for many blacks, not just Women who were angry at the fact that they were often dragged from their homes to wet nurse a Caucasian Child when he/she had a Mother with a perfectly fine set of mammary to do the task.
Summertime, spoke to the role Black Women played even after slavery had been outlawed. The unfairness was brought to light by Gershwin's musical "Porgy and Bess". This now orphaned Child being nursed, by a black "Mammy", both Parents dead, and yet his life was still more advanced economically, and by default, because he was white he was good looking as opposed to the black Child, who also by default was considered less than good looking based on skin color. This now orphaned Child would have easy and fun Summers, with none of the cares that plagued the black Family. He would not have to face the same economic disadvantage as his black caretaker.
(Big Maybelle), born Maybel Louise Smith
Certainly, Big Maybelle is a powerhouse, her voice raw, and moving drew a crowd. Her voice an inspiration to Women. Personally, her record released in 1952 and her Album with Savoy Records in 1958 "Candy", still inspires me to do a little booty shaking jig (Not a pretty sight). However it's moving in its sadly sweet message, and also makes one think of love and the underlying sexual content. No sex you say? Listen again closely. "A Whole lotta shaking going on"released in 1955, "Black is Black" to name a few has been re-recorded multiple times. And yes in our current Society the Title is considered racist "One Monkey Don't Stop The Show". It does, however, help with the Women's movement as far as identifying for the Black Woman that she could choose to be single, chose a partner that she pretty much had choices beyond what a Man thought.
I Can Have More Than One Idol
Musically I've been inspired by a great many vocalists I love Aretha, her voice, that little country lilt, seeps into my bones, and often brings tears to my eyes. I like broken People. Without knowing Aretha, I imagine a past with perhaps disappointments, one that has seen and endured perhaps overt racism. Her voice, effervescent lyrically moving atonement to her unshakable resolve in Christianity. I grew up listening to Aretha every Sunday while preparing supper, Mother would have a series of LP's she had an order that she never deviated from. She saved perhaps the best or her favorite for last. Aretha's "Natural Woman", and, "I say a little prayer". My Mother inspired my love of music unknowingly, among other things.
"Respect" - (R-E-S-P-E-C-T), find out what it means to me. What Woman, cannot identify with that song, black white, in between, we are inspired by Aretha to say unequivocally, no we will not be disrespected, it gives voice to a population not only as it is relative to Women but also to racism, and xenophobia.
According to Lifetime: Biography of Aretha Franklin, "Aretha Louise Franklin was born to parents Reverend C.L. Franklin, a Baptist preacher, and Barbara Siggers Franklin, a gospel singer. The third of four children, Franklin's early life was characterized by trouble and loss.
At the age of six, the young Aretha's parents separated and her mother left the family. Four years later her mother would die of a heart attack. The family moved to Buffalo, New York, and then to Detroit Michigan, with the Reverend's preaching assignments. He eventually settled at Detroit's "New Bethel Baptist Church" and his renown as a preacher grew to national prominence.
Aretha was recognized as a talented musician at an early age she was largely self-taught, despite her father offering to arrange piano lessons for her, and by her early teens, she was seen as something of a child prodigy. A gifted pianist and with a voice that already contained the power that would become her trademark, Aretha traveled and performed with her father's gospel show and sang before his congregation in Detroit".
Aretha is an amazing Woman, and a most remarkable and talented vocalist, and an inspiration to Women everywhere especially this black Woman.
Diana "the boss" Ross and lead singer of the musical group Supremes have inspired Women of all culture, exemplifies the boss like attitude, that takes charge and get it at any cost attitude associated with a real boss. The Lady has stamina, fortitude, and an entrepreneurial spirit having recorded 25 songs with the Supremes prior to leaving the group, Diana went on to record somewhere in the neighborhood of 91 singles. Still, Today Diana's songs are not only inspiring they are romantic, they talk to Women as it pertains to relationships and unrequited love. (born March 26, 1944) Diana is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer. Born and raised in Detroit, she rose to fame as a founding member and lead singer of the vocal group The Supremes, which, during the 1960s, became Motown's most successful act and is to this day America's most successful vocal group as well as one of the world's best-selling- girl groups of all time. As part of the Supremes, her success made it possible for future African American R&B and soul acts to find mainstream success. -Wikipedia-
The Disco Era
Disco saw its start in Motown-influenced by a combination of musical genres pop, soul, funk, mambo a Cuban influence and of course Salsa. It became popular in the early to mid-1970's lasting well into 1980's. So many beautiful memories of Jamaica I can envision the young me as I was at the time Disco broke onto the scene, Bell bottom jeans, short shorts, multicolored cotton shirts from shoulder to forearm close fitting, to bell with such feminine allure at the wrist, Afros were big, those who couldn't wear afro our Caucasian counterpart chose the dreadlocks or braided hair, halter tops, short skirts, long cotton skirts, I believe it's called "Bohemian" in Today's culture. Ah, but our generation we wore it better, big hoop earring the combining of Feminism and the demure, a redefining, and start of Femme couture, clothes flew off the shelves as designers sought to make a fashion statement.
The dances became a choreography of twists and dangerous hand movements, that is if you were unfortunate enough to have me as a partner. It was during this time that we saw a defining of a more free Society, Aquarius. Surely the 60"s saw the sexual revolution the age of Aquarius, The 70's had its own identifier then the stars were in alignment never were we more aware, more a part of the Universe. The heavens opened up and gave us such greats as Donna Summers, Gloria Gaynor, Boney M, Honey Cones Chic, the Village People and the Bee Gees.
Oh, my goodness Chaka Khan Yes, we rocked the heck out of Ms. Khan. Ain't nobody. Now as I write I'm singing, and anyone who knows me, knows my Sister is the Diva with the voice and the dance moves, but heck I know music. And I sing loudly and off key to really great music. I'm every Woman, it's all in meeeee. We are indeed every Woman, we are homemakers, teachers, Wives, Mothers, nurses, plumbers, electrician, cooks, Doctors, "head chef and bottle washers" another Jamaican saying and all in the space of a Day.
The absolutely divine ball of energy that is Chaka Khan was born Yvette Marie Stevens on March 23, 1953, in Chicago, Illinois. She has inspired many Women her song "I'm every Woman" which defined the role of a Woman, during the time when we were taken for granted, those who worked came home to an endless supply of titles that had to be filled the job description daunting, the title simplistic, "Woman" yes indeed we are so much more than our parts.
The Black Woman has always been a force to be reckoned with. No one era is responsible for defining the Black Woman as being powerful; from slavery through to current. She has maintained a level of power, independence, and strength of character. From single Family homes to homes having both Parents, most Black Women, are the strength of the Family unit.
Music has helped to change the dynamic of how Black Women have advanced. From the late 50's to current the role models that have come out of the music industry, helps to foster a positive self-image.
Young Women Today, take their cue from these songstresses. Selena, Gloria Estefan,and other musically talented Artist's/Groups such as, SWV, TLC, Salt N- Pepper, Toni Braxton, Jennifer Lopez(JLO), and more recently Beyonce,favorably known as Queen "B",The self titled Queen Latifah, and bad girl Diva Rihanna, to name a few. Music inspires, it defines and defies generations, while having its roots deeply embedded in sexuality. Music has instilled within Women the confidence and the image they sought to attain, in some cases repelled.
Erykah Badu the Feminist
Ms. Badu Three finger snaps absolutely. Every Woman can identify with "Tyrone" most of us perhaps have had that displeasure of coming into contact with a ne'er do well (never do well) at least maybe once in a lifetime. That sweet talking has nothing going for himself individually. Badu's song hit the chart's in 1990's her Album Live went Platinum. What can I say it was a very funny look at Life, Feminism at it's finest the Lady is all soul.
Erykah Badu was born "Erica Abi Wright, in 1971 in Dallas, Texas, Erykah Badu was exposed to the arts early on and eventually began to perform in shows at the local Dallas Theater Center. She would later choose the moniker Erykah Badu—"kah" is an Egyptian term for one's "inner self," and "badu" is her favorite jazz-riff scat sound.) Raised by her actress mother, Kolleen Maria Gipson, Badu was exposed to the arts early on. She danced and sang for her mother from a very young age, and eventually began to perform in shows at the local Dallas Theater Center. When it came time for Badu to attend high school, she chose Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She flourished at the arts magnet school, focusing on singing and dance". -Biography.com Editors-
Queen "B" Beyonce Knowles
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Beyonce speaks to the culture, a new generation of young People; again we see this generation repelled by a gentler, more acceptable language. As it was during the 1920's and at the start of prohibition. Beyonce inspires Women of Color with her sometimes carefree disregard for Society, and it's constrictive standards. Like so many songstresses before her, she is becoming quite the Activist for Equal Rights as is represented in her video. Proving again that she is more than a pretty face and a body, she embraces her cultural makeup, there is also a Human element that tells People she isn't perfect, but it's okay.
The Men Who Inspired
In retrospect, there have been many vocalists that have helped to define the black Woman. Some because of the message within the song, some because they dared to become what others envisioned for themselves, they walked the line between cultures often not being afforded the dignity and respect that came with being human, in their own way they helped to establish ground rules for fair treatment, while they themselves were targeted Daily, but the strength of character and determination they exuded how difficult a road that must have been as they paved the way for all of us, the freedoms we take for granted they were not entitled to.
Samuel Cooke (January 22, 1931 - December 11, 1964)
Sam Cooke, like almost all black artist of his time, saw his start in Gospel. His music has inspired me, his smooth vocals, the hidden messages within his songs, I hold onto his CD, it's in a place of prominence in my home along with others and marked favorite. Depending on the mood I will grudgingly and tenderly extract it from its case and listen to him wail " A change gonna come, I'll come running back to you, Summertime, You were, you were made for me, Chain gang, and You send me", the list is extensive and all with that beautiful sound never duplicated.
According to, You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke the book authored by Daniel Wolff, S.R. Crain, Cliff White, G. David Tennenbaum, "When Sam Cooke was shot dead in a cheap motel in Hollywood, he was one of America's most successful pop stars. He, left the world in which he had been born poor and had become very rich from the success of such records as "You Send Me" and "A Wonderful World", yet his body lay unrecognized in a morgue for two days. This biography follows Cooke's life in a racist America where his voice was one of the first to reach beyond the segregated audiences and command a white following, Cooke himself becoming a player in the fledgling civil rights movement. This award-winning biography is a full and sometimes shocking story of a man whose songbook is revered by great performers such as Otis Redding, Rod Stewart, and Aretha Franklin".
Redbone- a black person who has red undertones in their hair and skin. Usually light of complexion.
The group Redbone who can resist a handsome mix of Native American who so willingly accepted their cultural makeup. A Cajun and Native mix, popular in the 1970's they embraced their Culture my all time favorite "Come and get your love" one cannot help but to gyrate a lot of head bopping and arms flailing. They were popular when it was neither popular to be Native nor black. But in Jamaica wow, we loved them. Still Today they help to define and give Women cultural pride.
Redbone is a Native American rock group originating in the 1970s with brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas. They reached the Top 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1974 with their No. 5 hit single, "Come and Get Your Love". The single went certified Gold selling over half a million copies. Redbone achieved hits with their singles "We Were All Wounded At Wounded Knee", "The Witch Queen of New Orleans", "Wovoka", and "Maggie" in the United States, but predominantly overseas. Redbone is known and accredited in the NY Smithsonian as the first Native American rock/Cajun group to have a No. 1 single in the United States and internationally. -Wikipedia-
"I like big butt and I cannot lie" Sir Mix -A- Lot
Well as far as curves, Black Women have helped others to capitalized, figuratively. Capitalizing on our attributes now that is another story entirely. Women whom perhaps, have an overabundance of physical charm are not taken seriously, in most cases. It is assumed that if we do progress in life it has to do with perhaps a Male Supervisor or boss, finding the Black Female as attractive, and sex worthy. A woman with a slight built is seen as more professional, more educated, more intellectual than her full figured counterpart. It matters little that most are capable, educated and experienced, the assumption at first glance defines Women who are full figured as prostitutes, sexually promiscuous, or open to a one-night stand.
Music Videos push the biased role of the Black Women ensuring that black Women are not taken seriously in the workplace. While Black Women in the music industry capitalize monetarily, it leaves those in other profession fighting a battle against sexual harassment and finding serious relationships devoid of superficiality.
Rap Artists like Sir Mix-A- Lot, 50 Cent, Snoop Dog, to name a few, have been commercialized by the Music Industry, enslaved by Consumerism and capitalistic greed not only helped to sell the black Woman backward into prostitution but they themselves are victims of the system. The assumption being they are well endowed, having no intellectual value other than that wich is attached to prowess.
Pre-Civil rights, the period of enslavement identifies the black Male as producer of future capital, the producers of cattle, slave children, to line the pockets of the slave master, or as a Mandingo warming the beds of the Mistress of the house. They also have been geared by Society to view the Black Woman as little more than sex objects.
Mandingo as defined in the Urban dictionary - African male who knows that he has a huge penis that can hit all night and keep a female coming back fo more. These Rap Artist have done a great disservice to the Mandingo tribe, from which some of our African Ancestors hailed.
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A Jamaican Influence
Millie Small was born on the Island of Jamaica at the age of 12 Years old she auditioned for the talent show the Vere John's Opportunity Hour. Millie, unlike most Black Women, was not influenced by singing in a Choir, her talent she professed came naturally. In 1963 she immigrated to England and in 1964 her signature song "My Boy Lollipop" made it big in Europe and her popularity among Jamaican's, blacks, Caucasian was overwhelming. Millie became a household hit. She defied the stereotype and had her own weekly variety show which saw the Beetles and other well-known Artist in attendance. Millie and her cuteness spoke to the African Woman, in her they saw what they could become.
For a great majority of Women music and singing was a way out of a life of poverty and America. They wanted the freedom they saw blacks in other parts of the World enjoying.
If not for Harry Belafonte the Banana Boat would just be a boat, carrying Banana from port to port, instead of the racially motivational force that it proved to be. One favorite Racial slur levied at the heads' of People from the Caribbean, "Go back home on the banana boat". Yes thank goodness for Music and it's unifying influences. Harry has inspired and is a reminder to us what an immigrant can achieve by working hard. The cane fields, the fishermen who toiled freely on the beautiful shores of Jamaica, every Caribbean Islander claims this song as theirs. Harry Belafonte was born to Jamaican Mother who moved young Harry during his formative Years. Because of Jamaica's Laws governing their Citizens during the time Harry was born, he has the distinction of being Jamaican, admittedly or not, he will always be Jamaica's fortunate Son. Harry has been an avid Equal right's activist throughout most of his career, although not as prominent musically as Bob Marley he paved the way for Blacks in the entertainment Industry. One such great is Mother Africa herself Miriam Makeba.
The Legendary Bob Marley
Reggae and its Influence
The Abolishment of slavery came in the 1830's for Jamaica, because of its freedom, America saw Jamaican's living together we thumbed our nose at the thought that Black's and Caucasian alike could not attain Peace. We had a disregard for the American culture and the implication of Equal rights being denied to all People. The racial barriers Blacks saw in America, and Africa echoed in the hearts and minds of Jamaica. Never was it more prevalent that a Society could exist based simply on the fact that we were human beings? Here were freed Slaves and Ancestors of slaves, (blacks), living, and intermarrying, holding positions of authority, having none of the stereotypes, we evolved as a Society not plagued by the indifference Black America was victim to. We still sought to unify the World in which our American counterparts lived Daily, but were powerless to help, those that could do, we needed something, or someone to take a stand for People who didn't have a voice, someone to unite for a common cause.
That Unifyer came in the form of music and Bob Marley. Whether by choice or unknowingly Marley became that inspiration.
Reggae and its influence are synonymous with the Legendary Bob Marley. "Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945, in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica. In 1963, Marley and his friends formed the Wailing Wailers. The Wailers' big break came in 1972 when they landed a contract with Island Records. The son of a black teenage mother and much older, later absent white father, he spent his early years in St. Ann Parish, in the rural village known as Nine Miles".
His popularity no doubt is Worldwide, he spoke to the issue of Civil Rights, while usurping passages from the Bible to make a stand. He unified a Generation, Caucasian's and Blacks cannot deny his influence. His popularity was as a result of not only his signature spliff he was never without, and realistically his origins. more accurately his genetic makeup he had "face", his good looks helped to make him a household name. In truth, there was other more popular Artist at the time. But none to rival the truth telling good looking Rastafarian who made his mark telling Society what he thought of them in such a rude yet eloquent fashion. His appeal to a broader audience that at the time still ignored the darker skin black male as not marketable, made him notorious more amenable. An Equal Right's Activist, he used his talents to bridge the racial divide.
He inspired with great songs such as "No Woman Nuh Cry,(Don't Cry Woman), Get Up Stand Up, Exodus, and Redemption Song", to name a few.
Peter Tosh, born Winston Hubert McIntosh was a Jamaican reggae musician. Along with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, he was one of the core members of the band The Wailers (1963–1974), after which he established himself as a successful solo artist and a promoter of Rastafari. Also an Equal Rights Activist, He was more popular in Jamaica than Bob Marley. However his fame did not transend the shores of Jamaica to the extent Bob Marley's did. His inspiring messaes can be heard in such lyrically unforgetable songs such as; "Get up Stand up, Downpressor Man, Mama Africa, and Equal Rights".
The Popularity With Dancehall
From the mid 70's to present Jamaica dominates Culturally as it relates to music. Music has impacted Jamaica's economy positively, with a few scandalous performers paving the way for the growth of the economy, although not the major source of income for Jamaica; performers draw Jamaican's residing overseas and tourist from all walks of life to its beautiful beaches. Couples flock Negril, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios (Eight Rivers), for the carefree way of Life. Where the laid back snail-paced life is in reality " no problem Mon" no problem Man, however, don't expect that your service will be quick or that Jamaican's will adhere to your strict time schedule, there is real time and then Jamaican time, this is also part of the charm and frustration depending on your personality, that defines Jamaica.
The one thing guaranteed to move at a fast pace on the tiny Island is the music and the People who will no doubt entertain you dressed in scantily clad clothing. Expect the Performers to be scandalous, and the outfit even more so.
The Worldwide love for Jamaican music is undeniable, from America to England, Hawaii, and Japan the music is one a great many young People are influenced by. More accurately Dance-hall.
What Is Dancehall?
Dancehall is a spin-off from Reggae that adds lyrical rhymes to a song, credit can be given to these popular Artist for giving us our first taste of Rap. I know American Artist would love to take credit, however, Rapping started in Jamaica on the Dancehall circuit, with these two unforgettable performers Yellowman and Eek-a-Mouse. Early Dancehall was a mild mix of Reggae and what some would term acceptable lyrics. As it evolved the message became more sexually charged, and the mode of dress scantier to an almost non-existent scrap of cloth. This is the music that dominates the Japanese culture, they love all things Jamaican. "Big up yuh self Japan" Well done Japan!
The Women of Dancehall
What Is Calypso
Calypso originated in Trinidad and Tobago during the 1920's, it uses humor, and satire to bring to light the racial, social, and economic plight of its People both locally and Internationally. it's a beautiful combination of steel drums and horn, with a Salsa, and merengue tempo. It's influence, as a result of the Soca. As with all things, it's origin, of course, is from Africa, it transcended American shores to make its way to Venezuela, and other Caribbean Island. One cannot help dancing to the combination. I'll give credit to my love of Calypso to The Mighty Sparrow, and Singing Sandra, sure there are more influential Artist, however, these two by far have been the biggest influenced for bringing Calypso to the forefront.
Singing Sandra- Long before I knew what sexual harassment was Singing Sandra made me think, to me it was humorous, I had no knowledge that Men would subjugate Women in such a fashion, what can I say; I was a naive 18-Year-old. She, inspires Women to be aware that there is never any time when it is acceptable to sleep with or consort with a prospective employer for the purpose of gaining employment. She speaks to the sexual harassment Women have faced, and continue to face on the job.
The Whitewashing of the Music Industry
It was not unusual for a black up- and-coming Artist to have their song's absconded with. Prior to and after the Civil Right's Era. There were no copyright or infringement Laws that applied to a Black Artist. Recording studios exploited talented Artist with promises of fame. It should be a testament to the greatness and soulful wailings that inspired the theft. Race cannot deny the appeal that music has, we've all been touched by very talented White crooners: Patti Page, Skeeter Davis, Patsy Cline, and Reba McEntire, "I was Country when Country wasn't cool", my Father always kept a palm size transistor radio when he worked in the field or at home, my love of Country music is the gift he gave to me. Music has evolved we may at times view culturally each other with disdain, but we cannot deny that our shared love of music is a unifying force.
Where am I going with this
I spotted a feather on my lawn speckles of brown with sprinkles of black and white, and as I listened to the musical wailing's of Nat King Cole; my thoughts turned to me as I was during Childhood playing "Cowboys and Indians". I chuckled as those memories painted me just as I grew up to be.
I never wanted to be the Cowboy!
Yes, I am aware it's not politically correct to say Indian, but growing up we didn't play Cowboys and Native American. It is just another facet of America that highlights the bigotry and racism, the yes! Denigration of a People.
I am different, my views are different, and as I've matured I have learned to embrace and fight for that right to be different, and for other People's rights to be different as long as they do no harm. By continuing to blur the lines between decency and art, we help to foster the negative stereotype of our young Men Women and there is so much more to each of us than what is outwardly visible.
In the fight to be just who I am, I have been victorious. I can stand taller, walk straighter, I'll never allow anyone to define for me who I'm supposed to be, I define me! To a great extent, I owe music the debt of creating the who I am.
Yes, I'm different, but it's quite okay, my taste in Music eclectic from Mozart, Chopin, to R&B, Jazz, Blues, Calypso, Rap, and Reggae. The unifying symbolism that is music, has one thing in common with the People who have inspired for generations. Their differences, and what makes them memorable is; they each one stood for Unity, and while they used music to influence a Generation they stepped outside of their comfort zone, to dare to be different. Each in their own right was and are Civil rights Leaders.
As concert Halls filled to proportions with black Artist bridging that racial divide. No longer do they have to "shuck and Jive". A slave term for performing and catering to the White slave owners at whim. There is a wider Audience, times have changed, and progress although slow has arrived as it relates to Music. No barriers exist racially, one is either talented or not.
Yes, there are genuine difficulties associated with getting started, however, music has a universal language and everyone, no matter the color of their skin, sexual orientation, religious beliefs can and does appreciate words set to a string instrument, drums, piano violin, trombone, etc., and sung by a talented vocalist.
We no longer have to smile and pretend political correctness for the benefit of earning a living or for Judicial fairness, we the People, are going to (like our forefathers) employ change, we will demand it of the New and current administration. We are a generation defined, built, and exist because of individual and cultural difference. We with one voice through our shared love of talented vocalists use music to define who we are and the direction in which we would like the Country to progress not for us but again, not to sound like a broken record; but for our future generation.
Now as I'm plagued by the voices in my head and my favorite radio station 104.9 coming over the airway, piping Tom Jones reading my mind and driving me slowly insane. I am transported back to Jamaica and watching Tom Jones every Saturday Night as he gyrated hips that should be lethal. "Love is like Candy on a shelf", "Why, why, why Delilah", times have certainly changed. back then it was considered obscene to broadcast anything overtly sexual on Television. What is clear as I sit here now a Mother and a Grandmother who has experienced the changes in Music and the Social implications, one thing is obvious we are constantly changing, evolving as far as Music is concerned. Yet as a Society for every step forward, we seem to take several steps back.
Englebert Humperdinck, yikes I'm age dating myself how old was I am not really certain, I do remember that for a long while I would confuse Tom Jones and Engelbert they were similar in built and looks, their vocal stylings very similar. Even now "Gold Band" is still my favorite song, When I come back Darling say you'll Marry me. In reflection, as I search the Social sites trying in earnest to find that song without luck, music can also leave a lasting effect that if not met can drive one crazy if you try to recall a tune or the right words to a song, but don't worry it only lasts for a few moments. There in lies the humorous side of music. There are so many great vocalists and I'm constantly pulling from my memory banks to play them all. Music inspires creativity and can be helpful in the healing process the physically or emotional aspect. While recuperating from my many back surgeries pulling out of the fog of legally prescribed Medication daily to undertake activities of daily living. Music helped to keep me grounded, as I look at my writing from 2011 until now I realize the implications of how much Music helped me stay focused. Which brings me to Music Therapy.
The Benefits of Music
As I battled daily with learning how to walk, to exercise so atrophy didn't wear away at my muscles and my joint's it was the wailings of Louis Armstrong, "I found my thrill on blueberry hill, thank you Mr. Armstrong, because of you I was able to gradually move from the lowest incline level on my stationary bike my warm up and cool down phase, slowly each Day gave me the renewed strength to climb back on and gradually moved up to Mr. Ray Charles, "Hit the Road Jack", Fats Domino "I wanna Walk you home" for those arm curls, other great Artist also inspired. Karen Carpenter's snow Bird made me miss home. There were other such greats, that kept me motivated to ride my bike, to use the Total Gym set that I had purchased specifically for Physical Therapy. help in the healing process for People who don't want to rely on Traditional medicine. Growing up in Jamaica we tended towards less medication. Sure there was the initial inoculation and yes I believe Medication is necessary for stemming pain, however, we are all different. I'm allergic to every kind of medication there is and do not feel I should be forced to take medication for managing my pain, you see we are all different. Music Therapy helped me physically. There is always a balance, my way of controlling pain has changed, it doesn't mean that I'm not in pain, or that medication isn't necessary it means I found another way to help with management of pain symptoms, because of my allergic reaction to traditional Medication bedrest at times is very necessary.
If I could save time in a bottle" Jim Croce, Wow, what can I say? beautiful words set to musically harmonious vocals. A little melancholy, it's a lover asking for a Lady's hand but in such a sweet yet sad way one cannot help but feel a little bit nervous for him, what if she rejects him? To find someone that loves you that much to articulate almost every Woman's dream proposal speaks to the romantic in those of us who live romance, a sigh.
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