'Be anxious for nothing..." ~Philippians 4:6

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


I appreciate all genres of music. I'm not the biggest or most knowledgeable hip hop, or rap fan in the world, I admit. Say "rap" and my mind immediately goes back to The Sugar Hill Gang, Curtis Blow, Run DMC, Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, and DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. Frankly, I think James Brown rapped as prolifically as the best of them, and Teena Marie gave it a good ol' college try on "Square Biz". 
Spoken like a true baby boomer, right? lol

Sampling became an art form--a choice, an ingredient, and even an economical necessity for producers of rap and hip hop--and even began to be considered a form of flattery and salutation to original composers, as opposed to outright theft, and lack of effort or creativity. 
Way back in In 1990, writer Amy Duncan, asked, "Is advancing technology leading us into a musical world where nothing is "real"?"

I like what I like, and can't--no won't-- listen to everything. I like and trust my ears. I can't say something is pleasing when it isn't. You have to know when you are not the intended audience for which some Art is made, and that's cool. I admit it. Everything is not for me. Some recordings make me think the artist missed far too many days of school, wanted to make a quick buck, or was appealing to the basest of human sensibilities. Some songs are just...well...noisy, confusing, abusive, incoherent, lacking substance, derogatory, counterproductive and...well...bad. Are they supposed to be? I don't fuss, because when I was a teacher, I actually had an Andy Warhol quote posted in my classroom: "Art is anything you can get away with." I just wanted every child to try; to create something that was theirs. I didn't want to hear, "Miss Williams, I can't!" I hung prints of what was considered great Art, for one reason: to inspire them. Whether I liked it or not, I wanted them to believe their work was valid because they did it...but I digress. 
Some songs don't move, or inspire me to do anything except stop listening. That's the first sign of the subjectivity of Art. I don't have to like it, but someone else will. To me, there's nothing musical or creative about some songs. You can't always control the noise with which you're bombarded, but when you can choose to shut out extemporaneous clamor, and replace it with what pleases you, that's what you do. 
I often fear what many young listeners will have to look back on, or will even want to listen to when they're my age. Will their nerves be able to take it? Fortunately, not every young artist is more concerned with how music looks than how it sounds.

I'm a 60's baby. The era in which I grew up, and what I was exposed to by my parents' musical preferences, have so deeply informed and influenced my taste in music, and what constitutes good and even great music. I'm glad I grew up when I did. I'm also glad when young people respect, admire, share, and are inspired by music that was the soundtrack of their childhood, or young adulthood. As a parent, it gives me great joy that my daughter loves good music, and if she recommends something to me, I gladly listen. Case in point. She came home on a break from college with a demo of a local Philadelphia artist named John Stevens. "Mom. You have to hear this." She was right. It was great. We all know that young man these days as John Legend.
I'm not kidding, I LOVE it when young people embrace the old, and find new ways to create. The original composition will always be there as a constant reminder, and holding its own, but success comes when you're not annoyed or offended by what you hear and left longing for the original, but happy that it was found among the mountains of music that exist.

Yesterday, I heard a new composition based on an old one, and it made me smile. It made my day, actually. It's a twenty-two year-old song. ( Okay. Twenty-two isn't old, but I didn't have an AARP card in my wallet when the song was recorded. I do now...lol )
"Multi-platinum songwriter, producer, hip-hop recording artist, and lyricist Emcee N.I.C.E. was inspired by my favorite pianoman, Richard Smallwood's 1995 composition, "Angels", and put a new-school spin on it. Richard wrote, "I'm sure it'll go places that I never could have envisioned in my mind." 
I surely hope so.
I smiled as I listened to Maurette proclaiming, "Got meeeee some... " and the choir answering with "angels watching over me". I heard my own 30-something voice: "Si-i-i--i-ng, holy, holy..."
It took me back to that night on stage in Atlanta in 1995. I had been entrusted to sing a Richard Smallwood composition with one of my favorite singers, then, singer, songwriter, Maurette Brown. I was given adlib freedom and couldn't have been happier or more prepared. I had the privilege of studying and learning about holy angels in a course taught by the late Rev. R. Vincent Palmer, and I still had my notes. I got to sing them.
Twenty-two years ago my life changed musically. My world expanded. My name would forever be linked with one of the most prolific composers in the world. It lent credibility to my own skill, and opened so many doors.  It also unchained and released gospel music from the restrictive box to which I was always taught it should be confined.

I love it when others appreciate what Richard has offered to the world of music. Emcee N.I.C.E. is breathing new life into "Angels" for a new generation.
Take a listen to "I Got Angels" on YouTube. Then skip on over to Amazon or iTunes to purchase and download the track. (We listen a lot, but we forget that purchasing piece sometimes.)

Maybe I'm biased...okay...I am...a lot..a whole lot... lol...In addition to Emcee N.I.C.E. and Richard, my favorite B3 Pro, (The Studio Wizard, composer, mix master, educator, Inspector Gadget with bionic hearing), Steven Ford is one of the producers of the track, too.
I really think you'll like it...I do...and wouldn't say it if I didn't...: )


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