posted by robert j carmack #@blues2jazzguy
EDITORIAL by Eric WATTREE #wattreechronicles #blues2jazzguy
SAVE OUR LEGACY
As most people in Los Angeles know, the powers that be are in the process of gentrifying Leimert Park much like they’re doing in Harlem, New York. But what many in the community fail to realize is when they pave over communities, they pave over Black history as well. That’s why we have to have a “Black History Month” to recall the contributions that Black people have made to this nation. That shouldn’t be necessary. Black history should be alive all around us seven days a week and throughout the year. Our children should be drenched in it on a daily basis just like White kids.
Washington, D.C. is called Washington, and nearly every street, town, city, and state in this country are named as they are so we’ll be completely immersed in White history. And the fact that those names don’t reflect who we are as Black people is one of the reasons that Black history is so obscure and many of our Black children lack self-esteem. We’ve got to change that. For that reason, I suggest that we mount a campaign to change the name of “Leimert Park” to “Dexter Gordon Park.”
Leimert Park is renown all over the world for being Los Angeles’ principle center of Black art, so before this gentrification takes place, it should be renamed to reflect that reality, and no artist is more deserving, or more perfectly suited for the honor of having Leimert renamed after him than Saxophonist, Dexter Gordon. Dexter, along with drummer Billy Higgins (who played with Dexter), are two of the greatest artists that Los Angeles has ever produced – in fact, two of the greatest artists who’s ever lived. They disseminated Jazz (America’s greatest Art form) all over the world, and they’ve brought our city great notority and recognition as a mecca for genius, beauty, and excellence all around the globe. But due to the tradition of racism inherent to American society, these two great men are recognized virtually everywhere in the world EXCEPT right here in the United States. Elvis has been memorialized, so why not Dexter, and why not Billy? Thus, we shouldn’t just sit quietly back and allow the contributions to humanity of these two artistic giants to be paved over by American history – especially here in Los Angeles.
If we have to fight, so be it. We’ve failed to do that in the past. That’s why the average Black person doesn’t know that the only reason the world can read this message over their computer is because of the brilliance of Dr. Mark Dean, a Black man, who was one of the principle inventors of the personal computer, or Henry T. Sampson, who invented the gamma-electric cell, making cell phones possible. These two Black men have had a pronounced impact on the lives of every person in the civilized world. Our children should know that, because that is a part of their legacy, and they should know about Dexter Gordon and Billy Higgins as well.
I was in Leimert Park the other night, and it made my eyes moist just witnessing the beauty of our people at their best, and at their most artistic. It’s a wonderful thing to see Black people coming together in celebration of who we are, and we should protect that, so we should make Billy Higgins’ “World Stage” a historic landmark, and place statues of both Dexter and Billy in the park itself in recognition of who they WERE, and who we ARE. And we shouldn’t stop there. We should continue on to rename the streets in and around Leimert Park after major contributors to our culture. For example, Vernon Ave., between Alameda and Crenshaw, should be renamed “Dubois Ave,” and Degnan, between the park and 43rd Street, renamed “Eric Dolphy Dr.” Because we are what we think, and that will help our young people, and posterity, to understand our legacy, and our significance as a people.
We always complain about White supremacy, but we never do those things that are necessary to dismantle it, and in order to begin to dismantle it, we MUST do things like this in recognition of the excellence within our community and to bring a sense of pride to our young people. We must leave no stone unturned to make it impossible for us to be depicted as a frivolous people without a past. We’ve got to wake up and get on top of these sort of things – if not for ourselves, for the love of our children, because they too will become what they think.
Neither scholar nor the head of state,
The most common of men seems to be my fate;
A life blistered with struggle and constant need,
As my legacy to man I bequeath my seed.
More fertile, more sturdy these ones than I,
This withered old vine left fallow and dry;
The nectar of their roots lie dormant still,
But through their fruit, I’ll be revealed.
So let us take a moment to think beyond the moment, and think of the dignity and self-esteem of Black children who are yet unborn, just as Dex, and many others, thought about you.
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posted by blues2jazzguy #hipster
Eric L. Wattree is a writer, poet, and musician, born in Los Angeles. He’s a columnist for The Los Angeles Sentinel, Black Star News, The Atlanta Post, and a member of the Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists (http://www.spj.org/). He’s also the author of “A Message From the Hood.”
Some of the greatest minds I’ve ever known held court while sitting on empty milk crates in the parking lots of ghetto liquor stores, while some of the weakest minds I’ve ever known roamed the halls of academia in pursuit of credentials over knowledge.
Eric L. Wattree
MEMPHIS – Funeral services for soul-blues singer Bobby “Blue” Bland were held Thursday, June 27, at First Baptist Church in Memphis ,Tenn. Family, friends, colleagues and dignitaries from near and far gathered at First Baptist Church in Memphis to deliver Bland’s praises, listen to his tunes, and mark the passing of a Memphis music giant. The 2 1/2-hour memorial proved a stirring celebration of the life of the veteran R&B singer, who died Sunday June 23, age 83 at his home in Germantown, Tenn. #MEMBERS ONLY
The Bland family decided to allow the public to “share in the celebration” of the singer’s life by streaming the services live. It was not one, but a multitude of Bobby “Blue” Blands’ who were hailed and mourned during the funeral services at First Baptist on Thursday.To some, he was the “pearl of the blues world”; others, a singer whose artistry was not limited by any single genre or form, but always a man with an abundance of charisma. Bland was remembered as a devoted husband, father and grandfather, but most of all a good friend;to those whom he knew and loved him.
The Blues singer’s casket was flanked by a bevy of colorful wreaths, family members, including wife, Willie Mae, at the front. A procession of speakers came to the church’s pulpit to tell the story of his life and legacy.Spearheaded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson , as he spoke about his long relationship with the singer, which began five decades ago in South Carolina. He and his wife were just newlyweds when they went to see Blue Bland perform. “For more than 50 years he’s remained relevant..Bobby was a singer, but no one adjective is enough,” said Jackson. “Validated by his fans and peers, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, the Allman Brothers and Elvis Presley, all of them looked up to Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland.”
“Today, death has been robbed,” continued Jackson. “It has taken his frail body, but has not taken the crown prince of melodic music. You belong to us forever, Bobby.”
Former Stax Records executive/producer, Al Bell talked in detail about Bland’s musical contributions, charting his career from his earliest Duke sessions to his ’70s work on ABC, to his later efforts for Mississippi’s Malaco Records. Bell noted that though all the years, changes and albums, the singular spirit in Bland always shined through. “I love the spirit that lived in Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland. And the spirit that lived in that body influenced us through its music, its thoughts, its contemplations and considerations for 83 years,” said Bell. “What a blessing!”
“Even though Bobby Bland is gone, you still can experience that spirit by just listening to his recorded music. You will experience the spirit, the care and love, the power and the glory.” In attendence at the services were, local politicos who also paid their respects, with former Congressman Harold Ford Sr. and Shelby County Mayor, Mark Luttrell among those paying homage.
Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton also evoked one of Bland’s signature tunes while reflecting on his passing. “Bobby’s soul had to move,” said Herenton. “You know, Bobby left us with a song: ‘Further on Up the Road.’ Well, just a few days ago, Bobby moved a little further on up the road.”
Fellow musicians, including Stax songwriter David Porter, also shared personal insights. Porter told how he and his partner Isaac Hayes included a winking tribute in their classic 1967 hit “Soul Man”, by having Sam & Dave singer Sam Moore do a couple of Bland’s signature vocal “squalls” on the track.
Blues Foundation president Jay Sieleman reflected on Bland’s enduring musical impact, recalling how just this spring the singer was given the state of Tennessee’s highest cultural honor, the Distinguished Artist Award. While the recognition is typically reserved for those in the “fine arts” category, Sieleman noted that Bland represented the finest in any art form, praising him for his “exceptional talent and creativity.”
The eulogy, delivered by pastor Keith Norman, closed a program filled with music, including recordings of Bland’s own work, as well as rousing performances by gospel vocalist Deborah Manning-Thomas, Stax star Shirley Brown and Chicago soul singer and Hi Records artist Otis Clay.
The most halting moment of the ceremony, however, came near the end, as Bland’s fellow music legend and lifelong pal, guitarist B.B. King, rose from the pews to briefly address the audience. “If it’s possible that I see him again, I’ll have some (wise) cracks for him, which we always had whenever we met up,” said King. “Bobby, I miss you, old boy,” he added, looking toward Bland’s casket. “He was my friend.”
Robert Bobby “Blue” Bland was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Memephis Tenn.