Throughout Black Music Month, we've been highlighting some of the greatest songwriters, musicians and singers to ever perform. While I certainly don't want to take anything away from the folks who have been highlighted, I also want to pay homage to those who have passed on and left us with some timeless music.
Let's get things started off with Otis Redding. Mr. "Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay" himself. I actually started loving his music at a very early age. I think I was about eight or nine when one of my mom's friends told me I had an old soul. I didn't know what she meant by that. So my mom had one of her famous tapes playing in the house that day and Redding's "Love Man" came on and I started singing and dancing to it.
At that time, all the adults were convinced that we knew the song because it was used in the movie "Dirty Dancing" and we used to watch it like every day. Even then, there was something about his voice that made me want to find all his music. By the time I was in my late teens, I had found a lot of it and it was in heavy rotation. From "Love Man" to "Try a Little Tenderness," I heard something by Otis Redding at least once a week and believe it or not, I still do.
Another great who left us too soon has to be Barry White. I still remember when he died. It wasn't too long after his song, "Practice What You Preach" came out. That song was the bomb! I used to stop whatever I was doing to hear that song.
I love his voice. It's so thick, deep and rich like molasses.
The first time I ever remember hearing him sing was on the Quincy Jones song, "Secret Garden." I was young then too, but I knew what I liked and that song was alright with me. It wasn't until later that I really started paying attention to all the music he'd released earlier.
I know I was late, but I really didn't know a whole lot about Barry White until "Money Talks" came out and Chris Rock was singing "My First, My Last, My Everything" in the opening credits when he took that guy's car from the car wash. Then it played for a whole season on the Fox show "Ally McBeal" for all those weird people in that law office when they went to the bathroom. After that, I was pretty much hooked for a minute.
Somebody I'm still hooked on is Gerald Levert. I almost cried for real when he passed away. I love me some Gerald Levert. He was a big dude but he was sexy with it. He just seemed like no matter what was wrong, he could give a hug that would make it all better. That's the way he looked anyway.
Well ya'll know he got the majority of his fame from being Eddie Levert's son and the lead singer of the group Levert and a member of LSG. But let's be honest, he put out some great songs by himself. Truth be told, those are some songs that I still find myself singing. My absolute favorite song by him is "I Just Can't Help Myself" from the HBO movie "Strapped" soundtrack. I'm telling ya'll, that song used to make me cry - you know, before I became all 'hard' and stuff. *smile*
Then the brother had the nerve to put out "I Was Made to Love You," and "You Got That Love." That's the ONLY man I would have let scream at me like that
Well, until I get there to hear him sing again, in that Heavenly Choir, "DJ Don't" will have to do.
I have yet to even touch on Reggae this entire month and I have a reason for that. As far as I'm concerned, in Reggae, there's Capelton, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and everybody else. I'm sorry, but that's just how I feel.
Don't get me wrong, I like Lady Saw, Buju Banton, Elephant Man and I enjoy TOK from time to time. But, there is something about hearing "No Woman, No Cry that makes me want to sit down and eat a plate of curry chicken, peas and rice while I'm inhaling the scent of salt water and patchouli (because that is as close to smelling Mari J as I can get).
There's something about Marley's voice and his lyrics (what I can understand of them) that made me fall in love with his music a long time ago. My favorite song by him is "Redemption Song" then "I Shot the Sheriff" because of the beat and then, "No Woman, No Cry." Let me put it this way, I'm on my third copy of "Legend" in 10 years. Since I had to "give it a rest" a few months back, I can't remember if I need another now or not.
Now, let's get back into some Gospel and Soul music. As far as I'm concerned, you can't do either without bringing up the name Sam Cooke. Now this dude had a sweet voice. My mom and my uncles turned me on to Sam Cooke when I was really young in the back yard at my grandma's house during a cookout. My mom started singing the verse to "Bring It On Home To Me" and my uncles joined in and they didn't sound half bad either.
After I heard that one, I had to know who sang that song. They told me and from then on, I was after all the Sam Cooke I could get my hands on. If you scroll through the folders on my mp3 player, you'll find everything from "Touch the Hem of His Garment" to "Sixteen." And for those of you who frequent my spot, I'm sure you heard my second-favorite song ever, "A Change Is Gonna Come."
Cooke is a man who should have been featured in the songwriters post. He wrote the majority of his own music. He passed in 1964 but his songs have been remade, redone and performed, albeit horribly except in the case of the group Solo who did the FOOL out of "Cupid."
Who are some of your favorites who are singing in that Heavenly Choir?
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