Archives For music

Sing On

06/02/2014

joyful Maya AngelouI first heard this song from 1994 around that time on a Public Broadcasting Station (commercial-free radio!), allowing for this long song. Eight enjoyable minutes of movement-motivating music! This fantastic compilation by the talented Branford Marsalis and friends, which includes Maya Angelou reading some of her incredible poem, is delightful and makes me dance.

I hope this song brightens your heart and your day as it always does for me. May we remember our love for Maya with gratitude for her magnificent example, and how she blessed us with her years here. She will live on, forever in our hearts, and we are so thankful for all she shared. Namaste. Gina

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

(This is her complete poem; certain excerpts are in the song)

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Sweet Honey In The RockSweet Honey In The Rock (see my earlier post) do an incredibly powerful performance of this amazing piece, Ella’s Song, and I’ve included the video and lyrics for us here. I first fell in love with this song over twenty years ago when I heard it covered by songwriter-singer and activist Holly Near and I adore this original version too. I’ve also included some information about the memorable activist who inspired it: Ella Baker.

Let us be inspired to raise our voices and sing along! Let us rise up and take action for peace and freedom for all the world’s people, for every mother’s child. Let our love light the way. ~Namaste.

Ella’s Song

ella bakerElla Josephine Baker (December 13, 1903 – December 13, 1986) was an African-American civil rights and human rights activist beginning in the 1930s. She was a behind-the-scenes activist, whose career spanned over five decades. She worked alongside some of the most famous civil rights leaders of the 20th century, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  She also mentored then-young civil rights stalwarts Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, Rosa Parks and Bob Moses. In 1972 she traveled the country in support of the “Free Angela” campaign demanding the release of Angela Davis [John Lennon & Yoko Ono wrote a song in support of Angela Davis called ‘Angela’ on their 1972 album “Some Time in New York City”].  Ella Baker also lent her voice to the Puerto Rican independence movement, spoke out against apartheid in South Africa and allied herself with a number of women’s groups, including the Third World Women’s Alliance and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She remained an activist until her death in 1986 at 83 years of age.

Sweet Honey in the Rock captured my heart decades ago when I’d enjoy their music and performances on episodes of PBS programs Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street with my young children. The more I learned about them and the more music of theirs I collected, the deeper my love for them blossomed.

sweet honey in the rock performance photoThey are an all-woman, African-American a’cappella ensemble. A Grammy Award-winning troupe, they express their history as women of color through song, dance, and sign language. They have worked together from four singers to the difficult five-part harmony with a sixth member translating with sign language. Although the members have changed over 4 decades, they continue to sing and have helped produce children’s albums as well as those aimed at adults.

sweet honey in the rock photo 350The group was founded in 1973 by Bernice Johnson Reagon, who was teaching a vocal workshop with the Washington, D.C. Black Repertory Company. She retired from the group in 2004. The name of the group was derived from a song based on Psalm 81:16 which tells of a land so rich that when rocks were cracked open honey flowed from them. Bernice said that the first song in which four women blended their voices was so powerful there was no question what the name of the group would be. Their music combines contemporary rhythms and narratives with a musical style rooted in the Gospel music, spirituals and hymns of the African-American Church. The ensemble tackles five-part harmonies and composes much of their own music. They address topics such as motherhood, spirituality, freedom, civil rights, domestic violence, immigration issues, and racism. Reference details: Wikipedia ~ Official site: SweetHoney.com

I celebrate these dynamic performers along with their outstanding music! These women sing for peace. I applaud their excellent efforts and want to share the inspiration they offer right here on my blog. Watch for more to come! Let’s clap and sing along as they help us raise our voices and stand up for peace. We can pray for peace daily, and we can take action. Let’s get inspired and see what we each can do towards creating peace on earth, right here and right now! Let’s stand up for freedom! Let’s stand up for peace!

Sweet Honey In The Rock at the Carpenter Centre, with commentary by the bwordproject.com

~ He Still Helps Us Imagine Our World At Peace ~ 

John Lennon Imagine lyrics

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tall poppiesYou don’t have to believe in war,

I don’t want you to choose a side, 

Where I came from doesn’t matter,

When I wear these stars and stripes.

I am just somebody’s father,

Fighting to get back home,

Or maybe I’m somebody’s daughter,

Dreaming of a family of my own.

I’m so afraid of dying…

If I’m dying here alone.

 

Say a little prayer because you want to,

Say a little prayer ‘cause you care,

Say a little prayer ‘cause I need you,

Let me know that you’re still there…

I need a little faith…

Could you say a little prayer for me?

 

When I find my way back to you……

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~written by J.J. Brown

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Buy this song to enjoy and support the military through The Hugs Project.

Bob Marley (February 6, 1945 ~ May 11, 1981) was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician, and was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer for Bob Marley and The Wailers from 1963 to 1981.

There is something about Bob Marley that touches us regardless of our musical tastes. At least I have seen that effect. People I have introduced to his music, no matter what their preferred genre of music, always come back to express their enjoyment of his music. I have a poetic heart and I hear lyrics before music. Next I feel music in a way that has nothing to do with genre. When we hear the energy of a song that vibrates love, whether in words or music, we are attracted to it.  I feel that way about Bob Marley’s music. Thankfully I discovered him in my teens (longer ago than I care to admit). And beyond my parent’s music of Country and my own choice of Rock, his powerful poetry and Reggae rhythm helped introduce me to a burgeoning love of World Music.

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From Wikipedia:

On 21 May 1981, Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga delivered the final funeral eulogy to Marley, declaring: “His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.”

Also, Jann Wenner, co-founder and publisher of the music/politics bi-weekly Rolling Stone, at Marley’s 1994 posthumous introduction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said: “Bob Marley was the Third World’s first pop superstar. He was the man who introduced the world to the mystic power of reggae. He was a true rocker at heart, and as a songwriter, he brought the lyrical force of Bob Dylan, the personal charisma of John Lennon, and the essential vocal styling’s of Smokey Robinson into one voice.”

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In my third post in a row (see original post) cheering on the work towards peace being done by Playing For Change, here are three songs covering the work of Bob Marley. May you enjoy. And may you raise your voice, singing out for peace and oneness. We are all in this together.


Three different Playing For Change 5-min YouTube videos:

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Playing For Change (YouTube) about this third video of “War / No More Trouble” ~ “As we made our way around the world we encountered love, hate, rich and poor, black and white, and many different religious groups and ideologies. It became very clear that as a human race we need to transcend from the darkness to the light and music is our weapon of the future. This song around the world features musicians who have seen and overcome conflict and hatred with love and perseverance. We dont need more trouble, what we need is love. The spirit of Bob Marley always lives on.”

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Thank you again to the organization Playing For Change! I wanted to do even more than donating or creating an event. I want to promote you. May my dear readers and visitors visit any one of the links I’ve provided or search online and learn more about these inspired people from all over the world, making music and singing together in celebration of World Peace. We can do this.