Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 75: Flash in the Pan

"Flash in the Pan" is a poem featured within the "Love" section of Prevail.  It's an abbreviated retelling of an experience I had with a former love interest.  As the saying goes—if I knew right then what I know now...  I'm happy love led me to where I am now.

Flash in the Pan

You came in—
A nice guy,
Cute and intelligent,
Constantly sweet-talkin’.
But it turned out to be doublespeak.
You had my attention instantly;
Thought I was fallin’ for you.
You turned me on in all the right places,
But then everything flipped.
The potential was lost,
Gave way to bullshit and childish games,
And I lost interest just as instantly.
Too bad.
But I guess the signs were there
It wouldn’t last.
You came in and just as quickly went out—
Like a flash!

© 2012 BuddahDesmond

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'll Be Appearing at OutWrite 2012 in DC 8/3/12 & 8/4/12

 Logo courtesy of the OutWrite LGBT Book Festival site.

It's with great pleasure to announce my participation in the OutWrite 2012 LGBT Book Festival.  OutWrite is a two-day book fair which will feature book readings and discussions, poetry readings, book vendors, and lots more.  Throughout the fair, LGBT-themed books and magazines will be for sale, both old and new.  OutWrite will take place August 3rd and 4th in Washington, DC at The DC Center.  Check out the piece Lambda Literary recently posted on OutWrite.

As part of OutWrite, I'll also be featured along with Rashid Darden, Monica A. Hand, and Red Summer in head / heart / soul, which will celebrate the works of Black LGBT poets.  head / heart / soul will take place August 4th at 6:30pm.  RSVP for the poetry reading by visiting the event's Facebook page.  I can't wait!

Aside from the poetry reading, I'll have a table set up in the exhibition area on both days.  So stop on by! 

If you live in or will be visiting the DC Metro Area in early August, please come out and support OutWrite.  It's gearing up to be an unforgettable event!

~ BuddahDesmond  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 74: For Amy (My Tribute to Amy Winehouse)

Image courtesy of The Vigilant Citizen site.

Divided soul,
An artist that many didn't know or understand completely well.
Timeless voice,
A style and sound that was every bit throwback as it was contemporary.
Her music spoke with a raw, brutal honesty seldom seen in mainstream (as of late).
The draw, the connection was instant.
The impact indelible
Soul and emotion lacking pretense,
And an aura that was intriguing and intense.
Didn't think they made singers like this anymore

      But they still do.

But you're gone now.
Another talented soul gone before the world knew or appreciated just how talented you      
Family, friends, and fans watched the meteoric rise,
And the seemingly meteoric descent.
We watched as the media reported
And blasted your issues every chance they got

Dragging you down further and further into the muck.
Yours was an experience many did not and may never comprehend.
You were taken for granted,
While the coverage may come with the territory because of the industry,
      The lack of compassion was inexcusable.
We took you for granted,
And in your untimely demise the coverage has changed.
You're being celebrated for your artistry,
For ushering in the retro-soul era,
For using music as a canvas you painted openly and frankly with your life.
You didn't allow your art to be subjected to the machine or the man.
You did it authentically.

It's sad that you've gone on.
It's a shame the world won't get the opportunity to see just how truly gifted you were

To lay to rest the rhetoric that the magic was gone.
      It never left.
And you knew that.
Your true supporters knew that.
And we were holding our breath

Just to see how you'd blow our minds the next time.
But the Creator had different plans.

In your passing, there's a void that will never be filled.
But your light will always shine

In the hearts, minds, and souls of those who loved, appreciated, respected, and were 
     inspired by you.
We are thankful we had you for the time we did.

Let us rejoice in the extraordinary iconoclast that was/is Amy Winehouse!

~ BuddahDesmond

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 73: Happy Belated Birthday Millie Jackson

Image courtesy of the Millie Jackson's Weird Wreckuds site

Soul sensation Millie Jackson recently celebrated her 68th birthday on July 15th.  Over the last 12 years, she’s become one of my favorite singers.  I knew about Millie Jackson at an early age.  I remember a lot of female rappers (and singers) who’d always given Jackson credit for changing the game musically and showing that women could be talented, intelligent, and sexually liberated.  When looking through people's record collections as a child, I also remember that they’d keep their Millie Jackson records towards the back of their record collection.  I always wondered why.  After hearing an interview she did with NPR in 2006, while I was away at college, I began to understand.  The interview led to me rediscovering her music.  I fell in love with her soulful delivery, the production of her music, and the down-to-earth, brash, realness of her lyrics.  I said, “Hmph, I now know why she created such a firestorm and why some may have been a little uncomfortable with the subject matter of her music.”   

For those that couldn’t get into Jackson’s music or were too prudish to get down, I thought it was their loss.  There was no one in the industry at that time that talked about love, relationships, sexuality, and everyday real shit like Millie Jackson.  That immediately set her apart from her peers.  With just a few listens of her music, it’s also easy to see why she’s also referred to as the Queen of Hip-Hop.   

With albums like It Hurts So Good, Caught Up, Still Caught Up, Feelin’ Bitchy, Get It Out’cha System, and Live & Uncensored, she showcased her effortless storytelling ability and passionate vocal delivery.  If you listen to her interpretive skills on songs like “If You’re Not Back In Love By Monday,” “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right),” and “Letter Full Of Tears,” you can’t help but to say she’s easily one the greatest soul singers ever.  The song that turned me out was her remake of Latimore’s “All The Way Lover.”  If you want to hear a song she flipped on its ear and made it all her own, “All The Way Lover” is the song.  It’s a 10-plus minute gem of Millie Jackson sangin’ her face off and telling-it-like-it-is. 

No one, past or present, can bring the soul and the realness like Millie Jackson.  In terms of style, persona, and presentation, Jackson is a true original.  She’s a spirited, no holds barred, charismatic performer who’s inspired generations of artists.  She doesn’t always get the credit she’s due, but that doesn’t stop Jackson from doing what she does best.  Fortunately, Millie Jackson was recently featured in a commendable episode of TVOne’s "Unsung" series.  Go check it out.  I highly recommend it. 

Millie Jackson, thank you for your many contributions.  Hope you had a beautiful birthday!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day 72: Prevail (Title Poem)

No matter what happens in this life—we must prevail.  Check out the title poem from my book Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics, featured in the "Life" section.


Stuck in an emotional and psychological rut,
Someone or something hit the switch;
Everything faded to black.

My world seems to have lost its colors.
Maybe I need an OUT OF SERVICE sign,
Or maybe CLOSED would be better suited for my situation.
Lately my own world is more like a prison.
The little light that comes is immediately replaced with clouds of worry,
Raining doubts due to several seasons of mistakes
And occasional storms of depression.

Feeling like a swimmer
Stuck in a race he can’t win,
If I don’t think quickly
The only choices are—literally—
To sink or swim.
I don’t want the finish line to be
The ultimate end.
I want it to lead me
To more days in the sun.

Gotta get out of this
Losing streak,
After being down
For so long.
I’m determined
To prevail.

© 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, July 17, 2012

Day 71: Nothin' But Love for Whitney Houston

Image courtesy of the Vibe Vixen site.

There isn’t a day that goes by when Whitney Houston does not pop into my mind.  Her music plays in my head daily.  The impact of her passing hit me greater than I ever would’ve expected.  But how could it not?  No, we weren’t related.  She wasn’t a close friend or even an acquaintance of mine.  However, there was a familiarity about her spirit and relatability to her music that made me connect with her instantly. I grew up listening to and loving Whitney Houston.  Since the age of 4, I was hooked.  A singer and music lover even then, she influenced me in ways I wouldn’t come to understand, respect, and truly appreciate until much later.  

Houston was a goddess.  Her captivating, larger-than-life voice—pitch perfect, smooth, pure, passionate, and powerful—was the voice of a generation.  I, probably like others, couldn’t get enough.  While studio versions of her songs were pristine, the live versions tended to be paramount.  Practically overnight, she became an awe-inspiring, unstoppable force within the industry.  She broke down barriers and broke records.  She gave hope to so many that they too could achieve their dreams—not only within the entertainment industry but within any industry.  When Houston died, it became all too clear that an era had ended.  While her music and spirit remain with all of us, physically we will never be graced with her presence again.

I’ll never forget the day the news hit.  My spouse and I had just gotten back in the house from hanging out with some friends.  We were planning to go out with another friend later that evening for dinner.  Just before we left the house, we started receiving text messages and phone calls that Whitney Houston has passed.  I didn’t believe it.  I refused to believe it.  So I turned on CNN.  Within moments the news was confirmed.  I broke down.  Almost couldn’t contain myself.  I’m glad my spouse was there to console me.  It truly felt like a portion of my childhood and young adulthood had died with her.  After Etta James' and Don Cornelius' passing just weeks prior, Houston’s death seemed to hit home in a very extreme way. 

While some could say that Houston’s death was inevitable given her history of drug use, I don’t think anyone can say that they expected her to go so soon.  I have no intentions of pontificating on her drug use, as I believe the focus on this, her marriage to Bobby Brown, and the latter years of her life have been used to paint a very negative picture of her.  She was human.  She made mistakes, had issues, and went through trials and tribulations just like all of us.  Unless we lived within her, it will be difficult for us to truly know, understand, or be empathetic to what she went through, what she had to sacrifice, and why she did the things she did.  But it’s clear—she did what divine power set out for her to do, and she did it well.  She believed in herself and her talent.  She gave everything her all (and then some).  She relied on her faith in god and the love of her family and friends throughout her life.   And she never forgot where she came from. 

When remembering Whitney, it’s important that we do not let the negative portrayals of her life cloud the beauty of what she gave to the world.  Her legacy is what should be the focal point.  She inspired an entire generation of singers/entertainers and will inspire several generations more to come.  Had it not been for Houston’s many accomplishments, it’s quite possible that the careers of many of today’s beloved stars would be in a completely different place.  She brought joy and light into so many people’s lives.  Let’s celebrate her for that.  I’ve got nothing but love for Whitney Houston.  And I’m sure many of you do, too.   

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 70: Happy 7th Blogiversary!!!

Hello All!  Hope this post finds you well.  Looking back at my posts recently, I was happy to realize that my blog is now 7 years old!!!  For those who've been reading along at any point during this timeI truly, truly thank you!  

So much has changed in 7 years.  I've definitely grown as an individual and as a writer.  I hope to continue.  Writing has and always will be one of my passions.  My mission is to continue to challenge myself creatively and take it (along with my other talents and skills) as far as I can go.  One of my crowning achievements is having my first book, Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics, published.  There's a lot of work still to do, as this journey is just beginning.  I have no choice but to make it possible, positive, and productive. I look forward to sharing it with you.

If you haven't done so yet, check out Prevail, "Like" the Facebook page, and follow me on Twitter.  Also check out some of my favorite posts over the past 7 years:
  1. On Marriage…  
  2. The Best Thing, My Love
  3. Current Loves (Of Music That Is)
  4. H-A-P-P-Y
  5. Politricking
  6. Phyllis Hyman Posts a) The P/H Factor: Phyllis Hyman - Tribute to a Sophisticated Lady  b) Day 66: Happy Birthday Phyllis Hyman
  7. Luther Vandross Posts a) Luther Is Love b) Day 67: Remembering Luther Vandross
  8. Time Waits (For No One)
  9. All 4 Janet.
  10. Day 5: Oprah - The End of One Era, The Beginning of a New Era 
  11. Day 17: No More
  12. Day 39: OUT (Written in Honor of National Coming Out Day)
  13. Day 40 - Just Jill: Words & Sounds Live
  14. Day 69: Angela Bofill
Peace, Love, & Many Blessings,


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 69: Angela Bofill

 Image courtesy of the Smooth Jazz New York site.

Supreme.  Heavenly.  Soulful.  Passionate.  Angelic.  Gifted.  Beautiful.  Those are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of Angela Bofill.  An extremely talented singer, songwriter, and musician, Bofill was one of the best vocalists to enter the music scene in the late 1970s.  Combining Latin rhythms with Jazz, R&B/Soul, Dance, and Pop, she created a hypnotic sound and style that set her apart from her peers and has rarely, if ever, been rivaled.  

From her first release Angie (1978) to her most recent release, Live From Manila (2006), it's evident that Bofill gives her all with each and every performance.  Though technically gifted vocally, Bofill's emotion always rings true, especially on poignant, heartfelt ballads like "I Try," "I'm On Your Side," "Gotta Make It Up To You," "This Time I'll Be Sweeter," "Tonight I Give In," "Time To Say Goodbye" and "Still In Love" (which was beautifully remade by Vanessa Williams on her 1991 album The Comfort Zone).   Like any versatile performer, Bofill can get down with the best on percussion driven, mid- and up-tempo grooves like "Too Tough," "Something About You," "Angel Of The Night," "Love You Too Much," and "Is This A Dream."

Bofill has faced some challenges in recent years, suffering two massive strokes in 2006 and 2007—which left her unable to speak, sing, or walk—and fighting depression.  After years of speech and physical therapy, Bofill is speaking, walking, and playing music again.  In 2010, Bofill began telling the story of her life and career with The Angela Bofill Experience.  This critically acclaimed tour has featured vocalists Maysa, Phil Perry, Melba Moore, Jeanie Tracy, Grammy winning flautist Dave Valentin, and Bofill's original band.  It's provided an excellent way for Angela Bofill to reconnect with her fans (and make new ones). 

One thing Bofill hasn't done publicly yet is sing.  But we hope and pray that as her health continues to improve that we will be blessed to hear that beautiful voice again.  But if not, we are quite happy with the catalog of music she's recorded.  Given the circumstances, Bofill has remained steadfast, faithful, and strong.  She's a fighter.  And a legend.  

Bofill was recently featured in season 6 of TVOne's "Unsung" series.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 68: The Comeback

They waited for you to fall.
They prayed for your influence and success to end.
They wanted nothing but to laugh in your face and watch you wither away.

While they had their moment to make you the laughing stock of the industry,
     You didn't give in;
     You forged ahead,
     And came back–literally–like nothing ever happened.

Back on top (where you belong);
On everyone's best-of lists.
Several number one singles and millions of album sales later—you did the unthinkable:
     You trumped the critics and the haters;
     Made everyone fall in love with you all over again.
In fact, you gained some new fans—
     And inspired a new generation of up-and-coming stars.

With your convictions and faith you came out of the storm unscathed.
If that's what they call a comeback—
     Then you've rewritten history.

© BuddahDesmond

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Day 67 - Remembering Luther Vandross

As of this month, it's been 7 years since Luther Vandross' death.  And I think I can speak for many of his beloved fans (myself included) by saying that we still miss him dearly.  His catalog of music is rich, vast, and seemingly more relevant now than ever.  A true balladeer, Vandross sung about love and relationships with such passion, tenderness, and intensity.  His music touched a cord with many, because there was a soulful sensitivity and vulnerability within his voice that made him immediately relatable.  Like Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross was in a class all by himself.  There never will be another like him.  We will forever sing his praises.

Below, I've include a poem featured in my book Prevail written in tribute entitled, "Luther is Love."

Luther Is Love

Or Loofah, as some of us called you—
Still in denial about your passing on,
Doesn't seem real.
Gone too soon,
But never, ever forgotten.

The silky smooth voice,
Full of passion and emotion,
Consummate artistry and professionalism.
A rare commodity,
Especially in the world of contemporary music.
You will remain in a class all your own!

Exemplifying class and grace on and off the record.
Media seems to want to "out" you now,
But whatever your sexual orientation, it wasn't and isn't an issue.
Media also seems to want to make a big deal about your weight,
But that was just as insignificant with us as well.
It's the contributions you made that matter;
It's who you were as a person that matters.

You sang in a way that made us feel like you were singing only to us,
Expressing all that we were feeling.
It was a musical connection that became deeply personal and spiritual.
You've touched us in so many ways.
For you, we are forever grateful.

You spoke of love in all of its splendor.
You are the balladeer of love,
One of the greats.
Your music and spirit will continue to move us eternally.
You will always be loved,
For you are love.

Luther is love!

© 2012 BuddahDesmond

Friday, July 06, 2012

Day 66 - Happy Birthday Phyllis Hyman!

Today would've marked the 63rd birthday of legendary singer, songwriter, actress, model, and entrepreneur Phyllis Hyman.  A serious void has been left since her untimely death in 1995.  A singer's singer, she was one of the greatest interpreters of song to grace the stage.  She had a larger-than-life voice, personality, and presence.  Hyman was a star in every sense of the word.  

Born in Philadelphia, PA and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Hyman was the eldest of seven children.  Inspired by Nancy Wilson, Dionne Warwick, Minnie Riperton, and James Brown, Hyman said she didn't know she could sing.  But anyone who heard her voice then or now would tell you differently.  Hyman perfected her chops by performing on the club circuit in the early 70's with groups such as New Direction, All the People, The Hondo Beat, and The P/H Factor.  After leaving The P/H Factor, she moved to NYC and relaunched herself as a solo artist and became the talk of the town.  She initially recorded songs like "Leaving The Good Life Behind" and "Baby (I'm Gonna Love You)" for the Roadshow Records/Desert Moon imprint.  However, it was her work with Norman Connors on his You Are My Starship (1976) album that brought her major mainstream attention.  Their remake of the Stylistics' "Betcha By Golly Wow" was a major Jazz and R&B radio hit.  The Starship album also united Hyman with Michael Henderson for the first time on their duet "We Both Need Each Other," another radio hit.  Hyman and Henderson would later have a top-ten R&B hit with their classic duet "Can't We Fall In Love Again" in 1981 (from Hyman's album of the same name).  Between the years of 1974 and 1991, Hyman released 8 studio albums (Phyllis Hyman, Sing A Song, Somewhere In My Lifetime, You Know How To Love Me, Can't We Fall In Love Again, Goddess Of Love, Living All Alone, and Prime Of My Life), starred in 4 films (Lenny, Too Scared To Scream, School Daze, and The Kill Reflex) and appeared on Broadway in Sophisticated Ladies, where her role earned a Tony Award nomination.  Two albums were released posthumously in 1995 (I Refuse To Be Lonely) and 1998 (Forever With You).

Hyman made an indelible mark on the industry and with fans by singing realistic, heartfelt love/torch songs.  She wore her heart on her sleeve.  If she couldn't feel or relate to the music in some way, she couldn't sing it.  With songs like "Living All Alone," "Old Friend," "Meet Me On The Moon," "When You Get Right Down To It," "Somewhere In My Lifetime," "You Know How to Love Me," "Obsession" (with Lonnie Liston Smith), and her lone #1 R&B hit "Don't Wanna Change The World," Hyman captivated her audience with her signature style and one-of-a-kind voice. 

Throughout her life, Hyman battled with bipolar disorder and suffered from alcoholism, along with drug and food addictions.  Hyman's songs like "Living All Alone," "Living In Confusion," "The Sunshine In My Life," and "I Refuse To Be Lonely," offered a glimpse into the troubles Hyman had been experiencing.  In Jenice Armstrong's article "Hyman's Demons" from the Philadelphia Daily News, Jason A. Michael, author of Strength of a Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story, said that Hyman '"fought so hard to remain in control, but the truth is that she wasn't...She would get so nervous. She would get so scared. She had a great fear of success because, deep down, she didn't feel that she really deserved it."'  Sadly, Hyman took her life several hours before she was to perform at the Apollo Theatre on June 30, 1995.

She left behind a beautiful legacy of work.  While she may no longer be with us, her spirit will continue to live on in her family, friends, fans, and music.  Happy Birthday Phyllis Hyman!  We miss you!  Goddess of Love, rest in peace!

Check out my previous Phyllis Hyman Posts:  
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Day 65: Get Free

Until you’ve freed your mind from the people, situations,
     and other assorted bullshit that ties you down—
     You’ll never truly know or be able to experience freedom.

If you can’t act independently,
     think independently,
     live independently,
     or just be independent—
     You’ll never be free.

Release the chains.
Get free!

© BuddahDesmond

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Day 64: The Good Ole Days

The chatter never ceases when being flooded by joyful memories of a bygone era.
You're in a trance when nostalgia captures you:
Wide smile, happy, sparkling eyes—
A lift in the tone of your voice,
so evident in the jubilant recap of your experiences.

There's nothing wrong with reminiscing about the past.
The chapters in the book of the past made way for the books of the present and the

     forthcoming books of the future.
It's important that we look to our past because it's our personal history.
When we've learned from our history, there are slim chances of blocking the blessings of 

     the future.
We just have to remember not to dwell too long in the past.

Can't bring back what we had then.
But we can reexamine our lives now,
and figure out what it will take to create the good ole days of today—
To make them just as memorable, just as impactful as they were then. 

© BuddahDesmond