Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 92: The Kitchen, My Other Home

One of my favorite things to bake - Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Aside from the stage, studio, and classroom, the kitchen is my home.  I've been in the kitchen since I was about 7 or 8 years old.  Learned so many things from my mother and grandmother in the kitchen (still learning).  I'm so glad I received this gift.  I come from a long line of gifted cooks/bakers, especially on my mother's side of the family.  Good food (and drink) has been just as much a centerpiece of family gatherings as the communion and the entertainment (mostly us acting crazy and talking cash shit—doing what we do best, in other  There's nothing wrong with loving good food, especially if you're blessed enough to make it, share it, and enjoy it!  

One of the things I've learned over the years with cooking/baking is that food truly tastes good when you've put your heart and soul into it.  The love emanates through the food and touches the spirit.  This is why people enjoy it so much, and why we find some eating with their eyes closed (totally enraptured with the taste, how it makes them feel, and memories it conjures up).  The best advice:  if you're not feeling it—step away from the stove!  Put the utensils down and the pots and pans away!  Get out of the kitchen and call for takeout/delivery!  Because the food will tell the story.  I apply this to many of my creative gifts and talents.  I have to feel it.  I have to be able to get into to it.  I can't do it just for the sake of doing it.  If I'm not feeling it, I can't do it.  It's that simple.  

So let me get back on schedule.  I have a Honey Cornbread, Orange Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Baked Yams, Buddah's Teriyaki Pork Chops with Apples, Onions, & Peppers, and Spinach to make. Happy cooking, baking, and eating! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 91: Happy Birthday Michael Joseph Jackson

Image courtesy of the Eurweb site.

Today would've been icon Michael Joseph Jackson's 54th birthday.  It's been over 3 years since his untimely passing.  His presence and influence are just as strong now as they were before.  Jackson was a supremely talented being that blazed trails and inspired generations of fans and stars alike.  With each release, he delved deeper and deeper into himself.  He bared his soul, opened his heart, and provided us with what many would consider the soundtrack of our lives.  His albums went beyond music and entertainment.  They were events—monumental, genre-bending, shape-shifting events.  I don't know how many fits I had in the record store as a child because I wanted latest Michael Jackson album.  

Aside from Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, and Jody Watley, his music shaped much of my childhood and young adulthood and love of the arts.  Jackson's (along with the aforementioned artists) videos changed the game, revolutionizing the visual presentation of musical artists (with everything from fashion, style, choreography, overall stage presence, special effects, and cinematography to name a few).  I, like many I'm sure, would break my neck to see Jackson’s music videos.  Glued to the screen, I was totally in awe of the sheer talent, artistry, and ingeniousness of it all.  Still to this day, I can't help but be pulled in completely whenever one of his videos comes on TV or one of his songs is played on the radio.  The feeling, the soul, the spirit just goes right through you.  

Jackson gave so much of himself to us through his art and philanthropic efforts.  It's unfortunate that he had to go out the way he did.  But he was called home.  He fulfilled his destiny.  But the legacy he left behind will be cherished for decades to come. 

So today, let's celebrate the icon that Michael Joseph Jackson was/is.  The King lives on!!!

Also check out, Day 1: MJ's This Is It and Day 58: In Remembrance - MJJ (Repost).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 90: Kindred The Family Soul - Sticking With You

For the last 10 years, Kindred The Family Soul has been making heartfelt, soulful music.  Their music touches the core, speaking frankly, openly, and honestly about life, love, and relationships. Often compared to Ashford & Simpson, Kindred The Family Soul write songs that get down to the heart of the matter in an accessible way.  Their most recent album, Love Has No Recession, continues in this vein.  But aside from their signature love songs, Love Has No Recession, has some poignant tunes about the social and political ills of the day.  Overall, it's a solid album which conceptually, musically, lyrically, and vocally makes it timeless.  Check out one of the singles from the album, "Sticking With You," which is a sweet confession of true love and devotion.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 89: Infinite Ways to Get to the Ultimate Spiritual Destination

While watching one of two The Best of The Oprah Winfrey Show episodes on OWN today, I was astounded by how small-minded we can be. This episode featured best-selling authors Betty Eadie and Sophy Burnham. The topic was spiritual beliefs, specifically how to get closer to God and what questions we would ask if God were physically here with us in this moment.  When the discussion shifted to our path to God, some of the audience members adamantly believed that the only path to God was through Jesus.  They could not fathom the notion that we all have different paths.  And though different, these paths still lead us to the same place—to God.  One part of me says, "Of course.  How could you not believe this, especially if this is the only path you were exposed to?"  But the other part of me says, "How small of you to think your way is the only way.  There are multiple ways, multiple paths to get to the ultimate destination."  

When it comes to our beliefs, there's a comfort in what's familiar.  There's also a sense of complacency because we do not question anything.  We don't challenge ourselves.  And we easily welcome those in who believe and feel the same way we do.  When someone or something challenges what we believe, we get defensive and, often, are not as receptive or open to other possibilities (as was the case with a certain audience member on this best-of episode who tried to read—and I do mean READ—Oprah the riot act, but Oprah wasn't having it).  

In our lives, we all follow different paths to get to the ultimate destination (to God).  Our life experiences are what can bring us closer to or take us away from God.  While our paths may be different, we still get to the same destination.  For me, the obvious example of this is the beltway.  The beltway is composed of several different intercounty and interstate highways that connect at various junctions.  These junctions help get us to our respective destinations.  Often times, many of us are going to the same destination but we take a different route.  Though the route taken and the time of arrival may be different, we all still reach the same destination.  And as most who've traveled on the beltway will probably testify, it helps to know alternate routes to get to your destinations.  We get into problems when we're only open to taking one path.  And if we can't get beyond this one path, we don't have to wonder why change and different results continue to elude us. 

Spirituality tells us that we each have our own unique relationship with God.  Let no man tell you different.  The responsibility to maintain and nurture this relationship falls on us.  Religion, on the other hand, is a tool that we can use to help manage our relationship with God.  What we call God or what religion we follow is insignificant, since so many of our principles, values, and beliefs are universal.  It's about being connected to a spirit, a being greater than ourselves—and letting that spirit guide and direct us.  But it's our choice whether we want to accept it.  We don't have to.  And that doesn't make us any better or worse than the other.  Just be flexible, open, and accepting of the fact that there are several paths available for us in this life.  And remember, while our path or walk may be different—the ultimate destination is universal and always the same.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 88: Alicia Keys, a Girl On Fire

Image courtesy of Alicia Keys/Instagram site.
I have arrived at a place in myself that I am comfortable being exactly who I am in this moment and sharing it with no reservations. ~ Alicia Keys (2012)
The wait for the the next Alicia Keys album is almost over.  After nearly three years since the release of her last studio album, The Element of FreedomKeys announced that she was working on her fifth studio album entitled, Girl On Fire.  This week, Keys unveiled the artwork for the album.  And the results are simply stunning.  The cover features Keys with an expression and pose that exudes power, confidence, sass, attitude, edginess, fierceness, and sexiness.  It's Keys like you've never seen her before.

The cover also implies that we're going to hear Keys like we've never heard her before.  While her music has always come from a place that's personal and introspective, Girl On Fire seemingly looks to take her music several steps deeper.  Immediately, I sense this album will be a snapshot of the evolution of Keys—the woman and the artist.

According to a recent post on her website, she has freed herself from the things that were holding her back.  Keys says,
Girl on Fire is about new beginnings, new perspectives and fresh starts… stripping away all the bad energy in your life and taking full control of the reigns and how you want to live. There is something really empowering about finding yourself and your own inner strength.
Essentially, Girl On Fire aims to be the embodiment of Keys' strength, fearlessness, braveness, and freedom.  It's honest, soulful music.  It's the type of music that tends to be quite substantial and resonates deeply with the audience.  I have high hopes that Girl On Fire will be exactly just that.

Girl On Fire
will be released 11/27/2012.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 87: Earl Grey de la Creme (Pearl Fine Teas)

Image courtesy of Pearl Fine Teas site.

I've been a lifelong lover of tea (and coffee).  I fell in love with tea at a very early age, probably around 4 or 5 (which explains a  There's something so comforting about tea.  It warms you up, soothes your soul, and brings you a sense of calm.  To me, there's nothing better than toasted sourdough bread (or a nice pastry) with an ample cup of tea after a long, hard day at work.

Black tea has always been a favorite of mine, especially Earl Grey tea.  For finer teas, the rich, savory flavor sticks with you even after consumption.  A particular favorite of mine is Earl Grey de la Creme (pictured above) from Pearl Fine Teas.  It's a smooth, luscious twist on a classic black tea.  Earl Grey De La Creme is composed of black tea leaves, oil of Bergamot, and touches of vanilla.  All come together to give this tea its creamy taste, which makes for a delightful, unforgettable drinking experience.  I love it sweetened with a little agave nectar or honey.  Haven't had it with cream yet, but will soon.  Because the tea is so flavorful, I'm sure it's just as lovely by itself.  

I came across Pearl Fine Teas while attending The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show a few years ago during one of its stops in DC.  Always open to trying new things (especially when tea is involved), I gave them a go and was taken immediately.  I fell in love with the Earl Grey de la Creme, along with the Rooibos Lemon Cream and the Jasmine Yin Hao (green tea).

So for you tea lovers out there please check out Pearl Fine Teas.  I think I'm going to have a cup right now. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 86: Gone Too Soon (from Prevail)

In a society that claims to value individual freedoms—it's a shame that people are (still) ridiculed for simply being themselves.  There's no reason that anyone should have to hide or live a lie because they fear being ostracized, hurt, or even killed.  It's unacceptable.  We've lost too many due to the hateful, intolerant ways of others in this world.  It must end.  In tribute to those we've lost, here's "Gone Too Soon," a poem from the "Life" section of my book Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics.

Gone Too Soon

Fighting with the world everyday,
Trying to stand firm on ground that changes like DC metro area weather,
Not knowing when it's safe to be you, or when it's best to retreat:
It's safer on the inside—sometimes.

The golden era ended quicker than you could comprehend.
And you were thrust upon the audacity of disgust and hatred
From people you thought were your friends,
People you thought were your family,
People who said they loved you but you just can't seem to trust.
You've walked a line that many people claim they can handle but couldn't, even if humanity depended on it.
It's a line that you don't want to walk.
It's a line that often runs faster than the speed of sound and light, with a soundtrack that repeats daily.
And you're tired of hearing it.

Living in a world where people get high off of ridicule and bullying,
One is left numb,
Not wanting to deal.
The help you need never arrives when you need it.
It always comes too late.
You push and push,
And push and push.
And you keep pushing,
But the force always seems to kill your spirit.
It was at first a temporary thing,
But the period of death began to outlast the periods of rebirth.

There's a lot that you can and have dealt with,
But it's the pain and its lasting effects
That cut you down to nubs,
The hurt practically defying man's comprehension of depth.
If you could only find relief,
A sweet release from it all …
If only …
If …

The inner light quickly fades.
Time halts,
And you succumb to a place
Where your spirit will forever reign.
You'll be safe from harm and healed
From a lifetime of pain.
If only it didn't have to come to this.
If only …
If …
You'd still be here.

If only …
If …
You could’ve been saved.

© 2012 BuddahDesmond

Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics is available at iUniverse, Amazon (Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle), Barnes & Noble, Book-A-Million (Paperback | Hardcover), and other retailers. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 85: You've Got It Now (No Excuses)

No excuses now.
The room to spread—space to grow is there now.
You didn’t have to ask for it this time;
Fell into your hands—
     Like a blessing.
You’ve been ripe for a while.
It’s time to bear the fruit of the burning desire
     And willingness that lies within you.
Be your best self.
Do your best work.
The opportunities will be endless.
You’ve got it now.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 84: Inspiration from Toni Morrison

Image courtesy of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards site.

People say to write about what you know... I'm here to tell you, no one wants to read that, 'cause you don't know anything... So write about something you don't know. And don't be scared, ever. ~ Toni Morrison, USA Today
We find comfort in writing about the things we are most comfortable withthose things we find most familiar.  While there's nothing wrong with it, one has to wonderwhere's the challenge?  Where's the risk?  In the long term, what's the growth potential for you as a writer?  What will the audience truly learn or gain from you in the process? 

It's so easy to get caught up into the formulas for writing, especially if they've brought you a fair amount of success.  It's safer that way, isn't it?  But as creative individualswe thrive when we're challenged.  We thrive when we're put to the test.  We thrive when we let go of our inhibitions, take on the unknown, and, without over-thinking, simply create that which fuels our souls. 

You learn more about yourself, others, and the world when you step outside of the realm you call home.  Get unsafe.  Move beyond the known.  Embrace the unknown.  Be inspired by the unknown. There's no telling what magnificence may come about.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 83: Can't Make You Try

You can't even give a little bit.
You won't even try.
You fail to do anything that you think is going to challenge your ego.
You're afraid of compromise for fear of losing yourself.
God forbid you should ever have to change.
But compromise is the key to keeping the scales in relationships balanced.
You can't be the tyrannical controller and think you won't get checked,
or think that I'm just supposed to go along with it.

You shouldn't have to brand yourself differently to make our relationship work.
We have to accept each other as we are;
Else, our problems are much larger than we both can see.
I'm willing to make it work,

But if you aren't—there’s nothing I can do to make you save our union.
It's better to be selfish when you're alone.
And we both know we can do better than that.

So if by now you haven't changed your mind,
then consider these parting words:
Can't deny I won't be sad,
but I'll get over it; 
and you will too.
I'll just wish you well
And I sincerely hope and pray that you find whatever you've been looking for
Cause it obviously isn't with me.

Day 82: Get Over It

Get over the fact that no one will ever be the same.
Get over the fact that there are multiple umbrellas, and everything and everybody will 
     never live only under one.
Get over the fact that most people have no desire to (and will never) reside in the same 
     space, because complacency is equivalent to death.

Acceptance, change, growth, and progress are pertinent and inevitable.
Let it be!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 81: Inspirational Quotes (from Writers)

Inspiration can come from so many places.  Today, I'm featuring some quotes from writers whose work has inspired and moved me so over the years.  What are some quotes from your favorite writers?

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” ~ Maya Angelou

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style" ~ Maya Angelou

"Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place." ~ Zora Neale Hurston

"Nothing that God ever made is the same thing to more than one person. That is natural." ~ Zora Neale Hurston

"Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up." ~ James Baldwin 

"The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose." ~ James Baldwin 

"No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow." ~ Alice Walker

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." ~ Alice Walker

"An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose." ~ Langston Hughes
"7 x 7 + love = An amount Infinitely above: 7 x 7 - love." ~ Langston Hughes
"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~ Toni Morrison
"Writing is really a way of thinking--not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet." ~ Toni Morrison 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day 80: Gabby Douglas Is Not Her Hair

Image courtesy of OK! Magazine site.

I was a bit appalled when I began to see an abundance of chatter online about Gabby Douglas' hair, especially in lieu of the history she'd just made at the London Olympics.  For crying out loud, Gabby Douglas is an Olympic gold medalist.  She became the first Black woman to win a gold medal in the All-Around Women's Gymnastics Final at the 2012 London Olympics, and all people can focus on is her hair?  I thought to myselfhow small and superficial for people to focus on something so miniscule.  

Do people realize the amount of skill, talent, agility, diligence, and excellence that it took for Douglas to achieve this feat?  (Mind you, hair was not in the aforementioned list.)  I'm sure it was by no means an easy feat, but when you see Douglas on the floor—she makes it seem as if it's effortless.  She glides through the air like it's a natural thing—like it's her second home.  You cannot help but to root for her.  You cannot help but to get emotional, as she's beaten the odds.  Douglas is out on the floor giving her all and the only thing people can utter are comments about her hair... I'm overcome! 

Where is the pride?  Where is the feeling of faith and encouragement?  At only the age of 16, Douglas has many accomplishments to be proud of.  Her story is one that many can relate to.  By watching what she's done in London, there should be a sense of hope, inspiration, and motivation.  Douglas, like many, is an example of what happens when you are steadfast and relentless in working to achieve your dreams.  And in a field where so few who look like us achieve accomplishments such as these—this is a poignant, touching, remarkable moment.  A moment that we should all cherish dearly. 

Even Douglas can't fathom the focus on her hair and feels it should matter.  In a recent AP article featured on the Huffington Post site, Douglas said,
'"I don't think people should be worried about that...We're all champions and we're all winners. I just say that it's kind of, a stupid and crazy thought to think about my hair."'
I agree.  As India.Arie sang so insightfully, 
I am not my hair/I am not my skin/I am not your expectations (no)/I am not my hair/I am not my skin/I am the soul that lives within ~ "I Am Not My Hair," from Testimony, Vol. 1: Life & Relationship (2006).
Gabby Douglas is more than her hair.  She is a beautiful, intelligent, talented, and gifted young black woman who's made history.  But this is just the beginning of her story.  She's represented our race and our country so well at the Olympics.  And if that isn't enough—I guess nothing ever will be.

Day 79: OutWrite 2012 Was a Success

BuddahDesmond performing during the head / heart / soul Black LGBT poetry reading, as part of OutWrite 2012.

I had the pleasure of participating in The DC Center's 2nd annual OutWrite 2012 Book Festival this past weekend.  I'm actually still on cloud nine from the experience.  This was the first public event to promote my book Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics.  I consider this festival a true blessing (considering when I found out about it and how quickly I had to move to get involved).  I had the opportunity to network with other authors and businesses and gain some new fans.  

I was also honored to be featured with Rashid Darden, Monica A. Hand, and Red Summer the Black LGBT head / heart / love poetry reading (I'll post video of my reading soon).  It was a phenomenal experience.  The energy from the audience was great.  They were really feeling our poetry (which is always a plus).  And the turnout was excellent.  After the show I received lots of kudos from members of the audience and my fellow poets from the reading.  It was also touching to have some of my family and friends present at the event.  If it wasn't for a solid support system, I wouldn't have made it this far.  My support system has definitely helped me prevail.

I look forward to participating in OutWrite 2013.  And if you're in the DC Metro Area next year in early August, you should come check it out.

If you haven't had the chance to check out my book Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics, please do!  It's available from iUniverse, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and other retailers.  Also, check out and 'like' the fan page on Facebook.   

~ BuddahDesmond

Thursday, August 09, 2012

5 Minutes, 5 Questions With... BuddahDesmond on

I was recently interviewed on Joey Pinkney's website.  The "5 Minutes, 5 Questions With... BuddahDesmond" can be accessed here:  There's also a video trailer for the interview on YouTube.  The interview can also be found on Joey Pinkney's National Author Interviews Examiner Column and on The Black Urban Times. Please check it out and comment if you can.  Major thanks to Joey Pinkney for the opportunity and the exposure!

~ BuddahDesmond

Day 78: Donna Summer - Tribute To A Bad Girl

Image courtesy of site.

In May of 2012, the world lost one of its most gifted, innovative, and influential queens of music—Donna Summer.  Summer was a singer, songwriter, producer, artist, and actress who became the Queen of Disco, but made music that transcended genres and categorization.  She, along with her longtime producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, crafted a sound that highlighted some of Disco's best musical moments—along with incorporating technology and musical instrumentation that fueled innovations within Pop, Rock, New Wave, R& B/Soul, Dance, House, Techno, and Electronica.  You'll not only hear this on songs like "I Feel Love," "Our Love," "Sunset People," "My Baby Understands," and "Can't Get To Sleep Tonight," but you'll also hear the influences on Madonna, Kylie, and Beyoncé to name a few.  Had it not been for the strides and achievements made by Summer, music wouldn't be the same and many of today's biggest divas might be irrelevant.

Summer was a Boston native, one of seven children, who grew up singing in the church.  She knew, after giving a performance in church one day, that she was blessed with an amazing gift and that it would bring lots of notoriety.  As the world would come to know, Summer's voice was a force of nature.  She could growl with fervor, sensually coo, and wail like a first class diva.  Her colorful multi-octave voice was a soulful instrument that could make you feel any and every emotion.  Summer could move within the various registers of her voice with great ease and control.  She knew how to sell a song.  She knew when to exercise vocal restraint and just when to let loose.  And to top it off, Summer could sing any genre of music.  

By the time Summer was in her early twenties, she had several successful runs in a series of musicals in Europe such as Hair, Show Boat, and God Spell.  Summer released her first two singles, a German version of "Aquarius" from Hair and a cover of The Jaynetts' "Sally Goes 'Round the Roses" in 1968 and 1971 respectively.  Her debut album, Lady of the Night, was released on the Groovy Records label in 1974.  The title track and "The Hostage" were released as singles to great success in several European countries.  This was just the beginning for Summer though.  Summer would set the music industry, dance floor, and world ablaze with the first single from her sophomore effort.  This song was her seductive 17-minute opus "Love to Love You Baby" (1975).  Using her acting chops, she imagined herself as a character (à la Marilyn Monroe) in a state of ecstasy.  Summer's orgasmic performance cemented her stardom.  "Love to Love You Baby," was a No. 2 hit and would mark the beginning of a very successful period for Summer.  She would score a total 20 top 40 pop hits, of these 14 were top 10 hitswith four going to No. 1.  

Summer's albums were often thematic.  On her Four Seasons of Love (1976) album, Summer sang of a love affair using the seasons of the year as her metaphors.  Her album I Remember Yesterday (1977) was an ode to music of yesteryear.  The album featured jazz from the late 30s/early 40s, R&B/Soul and Doo Wop of the 50s, Motown of the 60s, and Funk of the 70s, and Pop/Dance of the day and beyond (with the early electronica leanings of "I Feel Love").  And her Once Upon A Time (1977) album, lauded as being one of her best (double) albums, is a fairytale--a Cinderella love story set to Disco and early electronica.

We tend to frown upon double albums today.  This sentiment is mostly because very few artists have been able to maintain the audience's interest beyond the close of the first of the two albums.  Summer wasn't one of those artists.  In fact, several of Summer's crowning achievements have been double albums.  Aside from Once Upon a Time, other double albums included 1978's Live & More and 1979's Bad Girls.  With Bad Girls, Summer, Moroder, and Bellotte looked beyond the confines of Disco.  They incorporated electronic instrumentation and elements of rock, soul, country, and pop to push the musical envelope.  Bad Girls (then) proved to be her most versatile effort to date.  The album went on to sell over four millions copies worldwide, and spawning two Billboard No. 1 pop hits ("Bad Girls" and "Hot Stuff"), one No. 2 hit ("Dim All The Lights") and one top 40 hit ("Walk Away") in the US.  Her record label decided to release a greatest hits compilation the same year, On The Radio: Greatest Hits Vol. I & II (another double album).  On The Radio was another smash, going double platinum in the US and spawning the No. 1 hit duet with Barbra Streisand "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" and the No. 5 hit "On The Radio."  

As Donna Summer went into the 80s, she distanced herself from Disco and began exploring different musical territory with solid success.  1980's The Wanderer had more of a New Wave/Rock appeal, while 1982's Donna Summer (produced by Quincy Jones) showcased even more of Summer's versatility with its Rock, R&B/Soul, Gospel, and Jazz leanings.  1983 saw Summer return to her pop/dance roots with She Works Hard For The Money.  The empowering title track went on to be one of Summer's biggest hits, peaking at No. 3 on the pop charts. Summer would release three more albums before she had another top 10 hit single, "This Time I Know It's For Real," from Another Place And Time (1989).  The 90s saw the release of two studio albums1991's Mistaken Identity and 1996's I'm A Rainbow (an album she recorded in 1981 that Geffen shelved), one holiday album1994's Christmas Spirit, and one live albumLive & More Encore (1999).  17 years after the release of her last official studio album Mistaken Identity, Summer released the triumphant Crayons (2008). Crayons spawned three No. 1 singles on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart.  

Over the course of her 40+ year career, Summer earned a total of 22 No. 1 singles on the Disco and Dance Club Play Charts.  She was the first solo artist to score three consecutive No. 1 (platinum) double albums and the first female artist to have four consecutive No. 1 singles in the span of one year.  Summer was also the first female artist to have a single and album reach No. 1 simultaneously and the first female artist two have two singles in the Billboard Top 3 at the same time (both were feats she accomplished twice).  She received a total of five Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, and was the first black artist to be nominated for an MTV Music Video award.  Though she's been nominated several times, she has yet to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  This is a bit disappointing considering the many contributions she's made to music (especially when you see the list of artists who were inducted before her).  Jon Landau, chairman of the nominating committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said it was regrettable that she was never inducted (New York Times). UPDATE 12/14/12: Donna Summer will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 (2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees).

As influential as Donna Summer was, it still doesn't seem like she's received her just due (even after death).  The coverage she received in Black press has been paltry at best.  This is yet another disappointment because Donna Summer was one of our Queens of music and entertainment.  Being one of the few Black artists to crossover without major support from the Black community, it shouldn't be a question about identity.  For some, it may be a matter of their ability or inability to identify with Summer.  She was not your typical Black diva and did not limit herself to only singing R&B music.  However, she could sing R&B and any other genre of music soulfully and masterfully.  Summer knew who and what she was and never forgot where she came from. 

Summer faced many obstacles (depression, addiction, and the trials and tribulations of the music industry machine to name a few), but she overcame them.  She counted on her faith, stayed true to herself, and never took her gifts for granted.  Summer brought so many people together with her music—people of different backgrounds, cultures, races, religions, class, and sexual orientation.  She left an indelible mark on history, the music industry, and so many of her fans lives.  And this is why Summer should be celebrated.  She was an iconic, legendary entertainer.  And let's not forget—she was also the original Bad Girl!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Day 77: Lisa Stansfield - The Real Thing

Image courtesy of the Singers Room site.
Never mind the stars in the sky/Never mind the when and the why/Got a feeling higher than high/This is the real thing ~ "The Real Thing" from Lisa Stansfield (1997)
Soul comes in all colors.  You don't have to sing R&B, Jazz, or the Blues to have soul.  And you don't have to be a person of color either.  Soul transcends culture, race, gender, and genre.  Lisa Stansfield is an example of that.  Inspired by the sounds of Motown and her musical idol Barry White, Stansfield has a sound that's steeped in the old school R&B/Soul music of the 60s and 70s, but has a feel good, contemporary flair.  After 20+ years and over 20 million in album sales, Stansfield has amassed a loyal legion of fans with her sexy, rich, velvety, passionate voice.

Stansfield's breakthrough single "All Around The World" from her debut album Affection (1990) was an otherworldly, massive hit that became an instant classic.  The song is an infectious, pleading confession and listeners, some of which I'm sure could relate, fell instantly in love with it and with Stansfield.  From her debut solo album to 2004's The Moment, Stansfield's music has remained a consistent vehicle for her voice.  While she experimented with elements of Pop, Hip-Hop, Dance/House, 2-Step/Garage over the years, her music never strayed too far from the soulful, jazzy lush style she's most loved for.  

Regardless of the style or genre, there's a heartfelt sincerity in her music.  Her songwriting showcases a knack for storytelling and an innate ability to get inside the lyrics and emote experiences that are endearing and relatable to the audience.  Songs indicative of this are "Suzanne," "Change," "Easier," "Didn't I," "Real Love," and her classic anthem "All Woman."  With her commendable remakes of Phyllis Hyman's "You Know How To Love Me" and Barry White's "Never Never Gonna Give You Up," Stansfield respectfully paid homage to two of her obvious musical influences while still putting her own stylistic stamp on them. 

Aside from being a singer and songwriter, Stansfield is also an actress.  She's appeared in 5 films, Swing (1999), Goldplated (2006), Marple: Ordeal By Innocence (2007), Röllin Sydän (2007), and The Edge of Love (2008).  Rumor has it she's ready to begin work on a new studio album.  It's been 8 years since the release of her last album (The Moment).  According to an article on the Singers Room site, she turned downed a number of offers to star in reality TV shows to instead focus energies on her return to the music scene.  Whenever that day comes, it will be a welcomed return from this stylish, striking beauty with the captivating voice.    

Lisa Stansfield releases:  Affection (1990), Real Love (1991), So Natural (1993), Lisa Stansfield (1997), The #1 Remixes EP (1998), Swing (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [1999], Face Up (2001), Biography: The Greatest Hits (2003), The Complete Collection (2003), and The Moment (2004). 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Day 76: Chanté Moore Live - Love's Taken Over (Again)

Image courtesy of

In late July, my partner and I had the pleasure of seeing Chanté Moore live at The Howard Theatre (in DC).  She’s an artist we’ve both loved since the very beginning.  I remember seeing and hearing her for the first time in El DeBarge’s video for “You Know What I Like” (1991).  I wondered, “Who is this beautiful chanteuse and when will a full-length album be available for purchase?”  The following year, we were blessed with the release of her classic debut album Precious.  I think I can speak for all her fans by saying we haven’t been the same since! 

Moore’s live show, like her albums, showcased her versatility and flexibility as a singer, songwriter, and entertainer.  Moore’s music has always been an aurally satisfying mix of R&B/Soul, Jazz, Gospel, Latin, Hip-Hop, Dance, and Pop.  If you weren’t blown away by her ease in this regard on record, then you certainly would be after this live performance.  Moore’s show was a nice mix of her hits, fan favorites, and remakes.  It effectively showcased her soulful, sultry, multi-octave vocal range (which has remained in superb shape over the last 20+ years).  She began the show with a rousing rendition of Beyoncé’s “End of Time” from 4 (2011).  Her performance made a statement of not only her love for all types of music (past or present), but her dynamism as a performer and her willingness to takes risks.  (Her selection of this song also shows that even she knew how hit-worthy “End of Time” was…Too bad Beyoncé’s label did not release it as a single.)  From “End of Time,” Moore went right into the hits and fan favorites starting with “This Time,” “Love’s Taken Over,” and “I Wanna Love (Like That Again).” 

Moore changed the mood of the show by doing a sexy medley of slow jams including “Do For You” (from her 2008 album Love The Woman), “Precious,” and “Finding My Way Back To You.”  During this segment of the show, Moore sang to and danced seductively around and with a lucky gentleman whom she selected from the audience to sit on stage.  Moore also took requests from the audience and sang them acapella, further proof of her talent and artistry.  Some of these songs included “Listen To My Song,” “I’m What You Need,” and “Candlelight & You.”  Moore paid homage to R&B/Soul legends Cheryl Lynn, Anita Baker, and the Gap Band with a stellar medley of “Got To Be Real,” “Sweet Love,” and “Yearning For Your Love.”       

Other highlights of the show included a spine-tingling reading of “As If We Never Met,” “Bitter,” and her opus “It’s Alright,” which brought the house to its feet.  Moore took us to higher ground during the latter half of “It’s Alright,” by singing in her angelic, stratospheric, Riperton-esque upper (whistle) register.  The rhythm and phrasing of her singing became chant-like.  She dug deeper and deeper into her soul—taking us along on a spiritual journey.  It seemed with a single performance she had transcended time and space with her voice.  There were very few dry eyes in the house (even Moore had to take a moment, as she was so enraptured by emotion from catching the spirit).  She closed the show with a moving gospel tune and her anthem (and biggest hit to date) “Chante’s Got A Man.”  She received a well-deserved standing ovation at the end of the show.  Moore performed a one-song encore as an appreciation to her fans with a spirited version of Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best.”

Moore had excellent rapport with the audience.  She took the time to talk to the audience (and I mean really talk to the audience).  She spoke about the inspiration for her music, love and relationships, lessons she’s learned, and the reception of her music in later years.  She was in great spirits and it was clear that she was having a good time (and wasn’t taking herself too seriously).  Much to our delight, Moore announced that she was working on a new album and that it would be released very soon.  It’s been four years since the release of her last album.  While it was one of her most consistent efforts, it received little fanfare.  Hopefully that won’t be the case with the next album.  With performances like the one she gave at The Howard Theatre, she should be adorned with an onslaught of much-deserved, long overdue acclaim.