Nina Simone's music stirs the soul. I liken it to one awash in the Holy Spirit in a Baptist church on a Sunday morning. Her classical piano finesse infused with her jazzy and bluesy gospel voice is heard in all of her music, especially in all of her civil rights protest songs.
Today -- after the amicable departure of Flemons and Robinson for their own solo projects -- the band, more than ever, is a shifting troupe of young African-American folk musicians who revolve around Rhiannon Giddens. I had long wanted to speak with this lady.
The 1960s folk music scene was a chapter in a long story, one that began decades earlier and that continues today as a new generation of singers and songwriters connect -- directly and indirectly -- to the burgeoning progressive movements that are rippling across the country.
"Negotiations between Obama and the Republicans... they have failed. The suspense... it continues," he says. Then he speaks words of his own: "Your government is shut. And everyone in your country has a gun."
Whenever performers -- such as Mary Bridget Davies in A Night With Janis Joplin, at the Lyceum -- impersonate iconic figures, they're going to be compared to the original, whether they like it or not. They certainly can't be surprised when they are.
This Jamaican-born star habitually gives more than she takes. From the first time I met her to the present, the fire had not dimmed. She ignites something from others that she only herself possesses. It is something that can only be a gift form a higher being.
Places deserves every superlative you can think of. And not only because it's an astonishing debut. It's music that comes from a deep place. A place that, if you've had a romance or three, you know very well
Nina is an interesting and charismatic character, so I can see why my father loved her music. He would be so excited that two films are in production about her life, and I am thrilled as well despite the controversy.
It's been 39 years since this all female African-American a cappella group was formed and for four decades the group has been singing out for justice, truth and entertaining, educating and empowering audiences.
The publicity of rapper Wayne's decidedly vulgar reference to Emmett Till -- whose scandalous murder in Mississippi in 1955 was considered by many as the impetus to the modern civil rights movement -- was, or so I thought, a teachable moment in my sociology classes at a black college.
"My mother is Irish-American and my father is Afro-Panamanian, so it's kind of been the story of my life to be a bridge between different cultures and different styles, and musically, that's between jazz and R&B."