Dancing with David Bowie under the Serious Moonlight – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

David Bowie on 1983 set of LET’S DANCE video with dancers Terry Roberts (left) and Joelene King (center). (Photo from bowiedownunder.com originally published in 1983 Serious Moonlight Tour booklet)

Dance is a political strategy that says “yes” to life as opposed to the corporate and terroristic manipulations that so eagerly promote polarization and glorify violent entries into death. Simply put, that is one important reason David Bowie’s 1983 Let’s Dance video (directed by David Mallet) is one of my all-time favorites. Through its subtle acknowledgment of the plight of Aboriginals in Australia, the late great Bowie Jan 8, 1947 – Jan 10, 2016) made two very important statements:

The first statement is very similar to that made by Leonardo DiCaprio when accepting a 2016 Golden Globe Award for his performance in the movie Revenant. It is namely this: the lives of indigenous and “minority” people are something much more than hindrances to a given company’s or government’s preferred agenda. As such, colonizing them (something which can be done in many different ways: economically, politically, socially, etc) or marginalizing the same is not the “acceptable option” so many seem to believe it is.

For the complete post with photos and videos please click the Source: Dancing with David Bowie under the Serious Moonlight – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

The Abbreviated Mind Faces ‘The King of Music’ Dilemma (part 1 of 2) – National African-American Art Examiner

Michael Jackson in the studio.

Michael Jackson in the studio. (Postered Poetics enhancement of pr release photo)

For those members of a given demographic made uneasy by the idea of eventually becoming just one more minority in America, an abbreviated mind taking note of the evolving dynamics could react with overwhelming fear. The carnage inflicted by Dylann Roof in Charleston, SC, just last month may be considered one such case. That demonstrated by the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik in 2011 illustrates how analogous scenarios are playing out across the globe.

The idea and reality of losing previously-held political power and privileged authority based on racial domination could (some would say apparently does) encourage violence against those perceived of as a threat. Certainly the ongoing violence inflicted upon unarmed African-Americans by armed White-American policemen ––the latest most visible cases being that of Sandra Bland in Waller County, Texas, and Sam Dubose in Cincinnati, Ohio, does very little to suggest otherwise.

From the opposite end of the undulating spectrum, populations growing increasingly more powerful and reacting with abbreviated minds may, conceivably, develop a penchant for vindictive behavior. It is in fact wholly possible that the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York City, later followed by shootings of policemen described as “retaliatory,” are precise examples of the dynamics in question. Such scenarios, however, represent only a fraction of the kind of personal, local community, national, and global chaos that an abbreviated mind, especially when linked to intentional guerrilla decontextualization, can cause.

Periods of shifting demographics, along with the often overwhelming giant crashing waves of sudden historical events themselves, often create odd partnerships and dangerously extreme polarization. Fear of getting lost in the shuffle prompts many to abandon personal ethics for some semblance of security motivated by a heightened sense of raging and yet repressed anxiety.

To read the complete post by Aberjhani please click here
The abbreviated mind faces “The King of Music” dilemma (part 1 of 2) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com
.

Michael Jackson One Theater production. Video interview with director Jamie King.

Text and Meaning in Michael Jackson’s Xscape (part 5 of 5)

Art graphic for

“In more ways than one, his status as a ‘superstar’ served largely as a vehicle that allowed him to render as much service to humanity on as many levels as he could.”––Article Excerpt (Aberjhani) 


The lucky number seventh track on Xscape, “Blue Gangsta,” is the perfect musical metaphor for the would-be thug of steel who discovers he is as vulnerable to the anguish of a broken heart as anyone else. The L-O-V-E giveth and the L-O-V-E taketh away. 

The menacing progression of chords and scheming vocals that made “Smooth Criminal” so irresistibly sinister is brought to its knees in “Blue Gangsta.” With atmospheric rhythmic tension generated by snare percussions, violins, and anxious horns, Jackson’s voice with impeccable delivery creates a brooding drama of the heart:

“No where to run, no where to hide
All the things you said
And the things you’ve done to me
You can no longer make me cry…”

The song extends the album’s theme of love as a multifaceted adventure through great joy and sometimes equally great pain. In “Blue Gangsta” we view it from the painted perspective of a realist, as Jackson has done before in compositions that explore love’s less euphoric side. The title also gives a nod of respect to the musical genre most famous for lamenting shattered hearts: the classic Blues themselves.  


Xscape and Guerrilla Decontextualization

Tempo-wise, the title track of Michael Jackson’s second posthumous release holds its own with such fever-driven classics as “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” and “Tabloid Junkie.”  That Rodney Jerkins worked extensively with Jackson on the original recording from 1999-2001 and was able to revisit it more than a decade later makes it easier to accept the contemporized version as something the megastar himself might have done.

Lyric-wise, the song “Xscape” documents the King of Pop’s nonstop battles with the forces of guerrilla decontextualization. As a black man who defined and redefined pop culture with virtually every album released during his solo career, Jackson was a prime target for those who used guerrilla decontextualization

to portray him in the media as a “whacko” or “pervert” rather than as the brilliant creative artist and exemplary humanitarian that he was.

For the full post by Aberjhani please click this link:

Text and Meaning in Michael Jackson’s Xscape part 5 of 5 – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

 

Memory-Song Painted Gold: for The Blue Yusef Lateef (1920-2013) Part 1 – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

Yusef Lateef Gold digital art graphic by Postered Poetics derived from original Atlantic Recordings album cover.

When the soul looks out of its body, it should see only beauty in its path. These are the sights we must hold in mind, in order to move to a higher place.” Yusef Lateef, from “A Syllogism”

 How could I have known, as a nine-year-old child growing up in Savannah’s Hitch Village project, that Yusef Lateef was speaking light in the form of music directly to my soul through his saxophone and flute when I first heard his masterpiece of an album The Blue Yusef Lateef? I could not have imagined that years later, while seeking the timbres of my own creative voice out in the world, his would find me again. It happened this time as I sat in the window of a hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, the haunting blues-heavy moans of “Juba Juba” swelling the room as the vision of a young black man looking up at stars through a jail cell hole-in-the-wall unfolded before me.

I do not recall what prompted my recollection of the song. It may have been because I was alone in the city and just as uncertain about my ability to survive there as I was certain I was not yet ready to leave. The more I heard it, the more the image of the boy in the jail cell came into focus. His thoughts became my thoughts. They communicated to me that his name was Juba and he was waiting for his dead father’s friend Elijah to come get him.

Between Juba’s words and the music that flowed with them, it was impossible to resist picking up a pen and notebook. Maybe I would create some lyrics to go with the moon-shredding laments on the track (provided I would later learn by the group known as The Sweet Inspirations). Once I started writing, I did not stop until the story later published as “I Can Hear Juba Moan,” in the book I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, was completed.

For the full post by Aberjhani with Yusef Lateef music video please click the link: Memory-Song Painted Gold: for The Blue Yusef Lateef (1920-2013) Part 1 – Bright Skylark Literary Productions.

The Passion-Driven Writer and the Digital-Age Literary Marketplace

Michael Jackson “Immortal World Tour”

Following Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, I wrote a series of blogs and articles to which thousands of websites–and more like two million where one article was concerned– linked or simply “picked up” to add quality content to themed pages studded with ads. Most of the time, I was happy to see this because I knew how personally many of Jackson’s fans experienced his loss. I felt (and still feel) honored that they drafted me into such groups as Counterbalance: Honorable Journalists, Writers, Articles  and translated my writings into different languages to give voice to their grief, bewilderment, and love. In short, my work came to function as a form of global community service and I was comfortable with that.

What I could not appreciate were those sites that used my titles and/or text to draw traffic toward them without links to the original piece or any reference at all to me as author of the work presented. And yet there their digital counters were flashing the number of visitors the site had entertained and giving some indication of the revenue that I and other unacknowledged writers had helped generate for them– without so much as a nod or mumbled “thank you” in our direction.  Why was that?

Passion and Payment

Pens, pencils, keyboards, notebooks, and the eternally classic legal pad have long reigned over numerous writers’ passions whether or not said writers received payment for their finely-phrased ponderings.  For those of my particular literary species, writers are words’ uncompromisingly dominated lovers and there is rarely much we can do except cater to their various whims and desires. This passion lends itself well to the modern need to provide such “free writing” as the ongoing blogs and occasional reviews that help both to advertise one’s published works and to cultivate relationships with readers who might choose to invest in the same. Yet inside the public arena known as the digital-age literary marketplace, personal passion joyfully shared is only one major point of consideration.

How many volumes of journals have been discovered following the deaths of individuals who never promoted themselves as writers but who nevertheless proved, after the conclusion of their muted lives, to have been extremely prolific and mesmerizingly eloquent? How many manuscripts authored by “minor” talents have been “discovered” after the lives that produced them no longer inhaled or exhaled with barely-controlled creative ecstasy and later became bona fide bestselling traditionally published books? Or even more impressively: were adapted into celebrated films?

The physical, mental, and spiritual labors of those marginalized writers may have been under-appreciated while they lived but afterwards somehow magically blessed publishers with stronger catalogues and profits, provided teachers with the tools of their teachable moments, and created jobs not only for the actors performing in movie adaptations but for numerous others in the industry as well. Why should everyone have gone off skipping and singing to the bank except the author who laid the groundwork for their gleeful song and dance? The current success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy is only one example of the syndrome in question. So is John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and many others.

Something That We Oddly Are

To write for free or not to write for free is largely a question those whose only motivation for writing at all is money. Those who find their thoughts, conversations, and most intimate moments of interactive pleasure suddenly taken over by the need to transcribe a sudden revelation, a re-surfaced memory, or a glimpse of bright possibility into structured meaning have no choice. At the risk of sounding pretentiously grandiose, we write because writing is more something that we oddly are than something which we painstakingly do. So far as professions go, the impulse to constantly write too often feels like an unforgiving curse of divine enchantment and many struggle to transform that curse into a blessing of mundane pragmatism.

With the ability to refrain from writing apparently snipped from our DNA, the more essential question becomes this: whether or not one should allow various media outlets to publish one’s writings for free? The question is as legitimate, relevant, and ethical as such questions get for many reasons. So is the answer, which includes considerations of standards, experience, informed perspective, time, intellectual quality, and readership. Who can afford either the financial or the psychological cost of presenting him- or herself as someone utterly lacking in value?

The payment doesn’t always have to be money but certainly there should be payment of one appropriate kind or another.  How such payment is secured now depends largely on how well authors inform themselves about the changing dynamics of the digital and traditional literary marketplace. Those passion-driven authors determined to carry on their hot or cool love affairs with the written word will do exactly that regardless of the cost. Who knows: the love gifted to an unknown literary work today just might provide the sanity that helps save the world tomorrow.

by Aberjhani

Continue the discussion on redroom.com

Bring on the Poets, Bring on the Jazz

A president and his horn--Bill Clinton shows his appreciation of jazz. (photo by the Smithsonian Institute)

A president and his horn–Bill Clinton shows his appreciation of jazz. (photo by the Smithsonian Institute)

Having nothing at all to do with April Fool’s Day, events for both National Poetry and Jazz Appreciation Month got underway across the United States yesterday, April 1, 2010.

In Chicago, Nobel Prize winning poet Derek Walcott, whose latest book is White Egrets, helped kick off the poetry side of the month-long celebration with a free reading at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The jazz segment got help from a performance by the New York based Argentine bassist Pablo Aslan and his Quintet, which performed at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History Carmichael Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

The Power of a Poet’s Voice

National Poetry Month was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Upon that occasion, then President Bill Clinton joined the celebration by issuing from the White House a letter of congratulations in which he noted the following:

“…America has been blessed by the powerful voices of our poets. Dedicated artists, innovators, and stewards of our language, they tell us not only who we are, but also who we can become. They distill our emotions, clarify our thoughts, and renew our spirits with the vigor of their words and the freshness of their perspective. National Poetry Month offers us a welcome opportunity to celebrate not only the unsurpassed body of literature produced by our poets in the past, but also the vitality and diversity of voices reflected in the works of today’s American poets .”
–former President Bill Clinton, April 1, 1996

The Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American poets itself was founded in 1934 by Marie Bullock, a patron of literature who was discouraged over what she felt was a lack of cultural and aesthetic integrity where poetry in the United States was concerned. By that time, the Harlem Renaissance had actually been in full swing for at least a decade but the now famous poets it produced would not receive proper recognition for several more decades to come.  Among them where such accomplished individuals as: Gwendolyn Bennett, Sterling Brown, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer.


Newly published Poem in Your Pocket Anthology.

The annual celebration by the Academy of American Poets features a wide variety of events and programs designed to enhance public awareness of the value of poetry in general, increase its representation in school curriculums, sponsor readings, promote the publication of new books, and perhaps most significantly, share poetry.  To help accomplish this last goal, in 2009 the Academy launched Poem In Your Pocket Day, which this year will be observed on April 29. It also started the Poem-A-Day program that allows poetry lovers to receive a different poem by email every day throughout the month of April.

One of the strongest initiatives employed by the Academy to accomplish its poetic goals has been a request submitted to city mayors, asking them to issue official proclamations in support of National Poetry Month. Thus far, cities which have complied with the request include: New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Pensacola, Bridgeport, Portland, Tucson, Seattle, and Boston.

Please click here for: Poetry and jazz lovers kick off month-long celebrations Part 2

by Aberjhani

Continue the discussion on redroom.com

The Furious Passage of Nina Simone

Nina Simone in concert. (AP file photo)

Nina Simone in concert. (AP file photo)

Many modern audiences first became familiar with the name Nina Simone in 2005 after Canadian singer Michael Buble’ recorded her 1965 hit song, “Feeling Good,” and which finalists on the popular American Idol television show sang before world audiences in 2007.

However, long before Buble’ or American Idol finalists sang “Feeling Good,” Nina Simone made a lasting name for herself on several continents as one of the great singers, composers, and performers of the twentieth century. The fact that at least a dozen books document her life and work illustrate just how great she was and how enduring her music remains.  Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone, by Nadine Cohodas, is one of the latest such titles just published in February 2010.

The singer herself published in 1991 (the first London edition) an autobiography titled I Put a Spell on You. Describing just how Simone went about working her musical magic, author and former Ebony Magazine music editor Phyl Garland wrote in her in her own book, The Sound of Soul, The Music and Its Meaning, that:

“She casts her spell with the fluid but frequently complex patterns of notes she etches on her piano and with the distinctive sound of her richly reedy voice.”

Another way to gauge the impact of Simone’s life and legacy is to look at it like this: whereas the great Aretha Franklin earned, and has worn with dignity, the title “Queen of Soul” for at least four decades, Nina Simone earned and wore for decades the title “High Priestess of Soul.”

North Carolina Beginnings

She was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina. Both her parents, John Divine Waymon and Mary Kate Waymon, were entertainers when they met but later settled into more stable professions to raise their eight children. Her mother became a devoted Methodist minister, which later prompted Eunice Waymon to adopt the name Nina Simone when she began performing in night clubs and bars.

Simone’s talents as a pianist were recognized early and her family supported her goal to become a world-class concert pianist. She was good enough to study for a time at the renowned Juilliard School of Music in New York but her application to attend the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia was rejected. This rejection, she felt, was based more on her race than her abilities and it has often been cited as a major source of the political fury that characterized some of her music. The planned career in classical music took off instead in the direction of more popular genres.  Recording her first album, Little Girl Blue, in 1957, she enjoyed a hit with the George Gershwin song, “I Loves You Porgy.”

While she was quickly labeled and marketed as a jazz performer, Simone had actually developed into a mistress of diverse musical forms that included not only jazz, but gospel, blues, Broadway show tunes, Black folk songs, and other styles in classic American modes. She could have easily carved out a successful career for herself in popular music and simply enjoyed the wealth and fame that comes with such success. But in addition to her musical sensibilities, she also possessed a social/political consciousness that was magnified by friendships with individuals like the playwright Lorraine Hansberry, author James Baldwin, and author Langston Hughes, all of whom at various times lent their artistry to the struggle for racial equality.

It was Hughes who said, “Nina Simone is as different from other singers as beer is from champagne.” While he contributed liner notes to at least one of her albums, she in turn wrote with him the hit song “Backlash Blues.”

Commitment and Consequences

The singer once stated that as far as she was concerned, the job of a creative artist was to address the pressing issues of her times. Towards that end, she wrote and recorded a number of songs that addressed individual moral responsibility as well as the civil rights and women’s rights movements of the 1960s. Following two events in particular–the 1963 murder of NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers in Mississippi and that of four Black girls in a Birmingham church– she recorded the now classic “Mississippi Goddamn.”

The composition is in part satire, part social criticism, and part political outrage, which, given the real-world apartheid conditions and context of the times, makes a great deal of sense. She introduced the song by emphasizing its title and pointing out that she meant every word of it, then sang with fierce courage and intelligence: “Alabama’s gotten me so upset/ Tennessee made me lose my rest/ And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam…”

Aside from expressing outrage, the singer also implored:

“Can’t you see it
Can’t you feel it
It’s all in the air
I can’t stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer”

While many championed Simone for her courageous outspokenness at a time when passive endurance was considered the key to civil rights success for African Americans, others vilified her for it. Many radio stations banned the song and the impact upon her career would prove a lasting negative one. Other powerful protest songs, notably music legends Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind,” were also released during this period but apparently considered less confrontational or threatening than “Mississippi Goddamn.”


Performing artist Nina Simone and daugher Lisa Celeste.
(photo courtesy of the Nina Simone Foundation)

Her composition, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” written for her friend Lorraine Hansberry, became one of the major anthems of the civil rights struggle and the title of Hansberry’s autobiography. Her “Four Women” is a marvel of minimalist art in which she deftly dramatizes the impact of racism upon the lives of four different women. In all, Nina Simone composed more than 500 songs and recorded more than fifty albums throughout her prolific career.

To Read More Please Click Here : The Nina Simone Legacy in 2010

by Aberjhani

Continue the discussion on redroom.com