Category Archives: Music

R.I.P. Honorable Dick Gregory

5Today, seemed like the saddest day of my life hearing that my hero passed away! I want to applaud the great Dick Gregory for the gift of his commitment, wisdom, and his genius! Dick Gregory, whose government name is Mr. Gregory was active in the civil rights movement from the beginning. He came to Selma, Alabama and spoke for two hours on a public platform two days before the voter registration drive known as “Freedom Day” (October 7, 1963). In 1964, Gregory became more involved in struggles for civil rights, activism against the Vietnam War, economic reform, anti-drug issues, conspiracy theories, and others. As a part of his activism, he went on several hunger strikes.

There are few people, who dare to speak truth to power. Brother Gregory is a fearless champion of the African American people, and dare I say the world. He has been at the forefront of Civil Rights before it was known as such. His is a comedian, writer, entrepreneur, social activist and critic.

Dick Gregory began his career as a comedian while serving in the military in the mid-1950s. He was drafted in 1954 while attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. After being discharged in 1956, he returned to the university but did not receive a degree. With a desire to perform comedy professionally, he moved to Chicago. He said of his early career, “Blacks could sing and dance in the white night clubs but weren’t allowed to stand flat-footed and talk to white folks, which is what a comic does.”

Gregory attributes the launch of his career to Hugh Hefner, who watched him perform at Herman Roberts Show Bar. Based on that performance, Hefner hired Gregory to work at the Chicago Playboy Club as a replacement for the white comedian Professor Irwin Corey. Shortly after that Gregory’s first TV appearance was on the late night The Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar, which positioned him to begin appearing nationally and on television.

Gregory currently stands at number 82 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-up comics of all time and has his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. There is a grassroots effort afoot to get him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, spearheaded by Radio One host Joe Madison.

Mr. Gregory was active in the civil rights movement from the beginning. He came to Selma, Alabama and spoke for two hours on a public platform two days before the voter registration drive known as “Freedom Day” (October 7, 1963). In 1964, Gregory became more involved in struggles for civil rights, activism against the Vietnam War, economic reform, anti-drug issues, conspiracy theories, and others. As a part of his activism, he went on several hunger strikes.

Gregory began his political career by running against Richard J. Daley for the mayoralty of Chicago in 1967. Though he did not emerge victorious; this would not prove to be the end of his dalliances in electoral politics. He also unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States in 1968 as a write-in candidate of the Freedom and Peace Party.

He wrote the book “Write Me In” about his presidential campaign. One interesting anecdote therein relates the story of a publicity stunt that came out of Operation Breadbasket in Chicago where the campaign had printed dollar bills with Gregory’s image on them, some of which made it into circulation, causing considerable problems, but priceless publicity. The majority of these bills were quickly seized by the federal government.

He was an early outspoken critic of the Warren Commission findings that President JFK was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. On March 6, 1975, Gregory and assassination researcher Robert Groden appeared on Geraldo Rivera’s late night ABC talk show Goodnight America. An important historical event happened that night when the famous Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination was shown to the public on TV for the first time in history. The public’s response and outrage to that showing led to the forming of the Hart-Schweiker investigation, which contributed to the Church Committee Investigation on Intelligence Activities by the United States, which resulted in the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation.

In 1998 Gregory spoke at the celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with President Bill Clinton in attendance. Not long after, the President told Gregory’s long-time friend and P.R. Consultant, Steve Jaffe, “I love Dick Gregory; he is one of the funniest people on the planet.” They spoke of how Gregory had made a comment on Dr. King’s birthday that broke everyone into laughter when he noted that the President made Speaker Newt Gingrich ride “in the back of the plane,” on an Air Force One trip overseas.

At a Civil Rights rally marking the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Gregory criticized the United States, calling it “the most dishonest, ungodly, unspiritual nation that ever existed in the history of the planet. As we talk now, America is 5 percent of the world’s population and consumes 96 percent of the world’s hard drugs”.

Gregory announced a hunger strike on September 10, 2010, saying in a commentary published by the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal that he doubted the official U.S. report about the attacks on September 11, 2001. “One thing I know is that the official government story of those events, as well as what took place that day at the Pentagon, is just that, a story. This story is not the truth, but far from it. I was born on October 12, 1932. I am announcing today that I will be consuming only liquids beginning Sunday until my eightieth birthday in 2012 and until the real truth of what truly happened on that day emerges and is publicly known.”

His most lasting impression resulted from his 1984 founding of the Health Enterprises, Inc., a company that distributed weight loss products. With this company, Gregory made efforts to improve the life expectancy of African Americans, which he believes is being hindered by poor nutrition and drug and alcohol abuse. In 1985 Gregory introduced the “Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet,” a powdered diet mix. He launched the weight-loss powder at the Whole Life Expo in Boston under the slogan “It’s cool to be healthy.” The diet mix, drunk three times a day, was said to provide rapid weight loss. Gregory received a multimillion-dollar distribution contract to retail the diet.

As we celebrate this his born day, I want to pay homage to the Honorable Dick Gregory for his commitment and dedication to speak truth to power and for the knowledge to empower all of us. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Books

  • Nigger: An Autobiography, with Robert LipsyteE.P. Dutton, September 1964. (one account says 1963) (reprinted, Pocket Books, 1965-present)
  • Write me in!, Bantam, 1968.
  • From the Back of the Bus
  • What’s Happening?
  • The Shadow that Scares Me
  • Dick Gregory’s Bible Tales, with Commentary, a book of Bible-based humor. ISBN 0-8128-6194-9
  • Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ With Mother Nature! ISBN 0-06-080315-0
  • (with Shelia P. Moses), Callus on My Soul: A Memoir ISBN 0-7582-0202-4
  • Up from Nigger
  • No More Lies; The Myth and the Reality of American History
  • Dick Gregory’s political primer
  • (with Mark Lane), Murder in Memphis: The FBI and the Assassination of Martin Luther King
  • (with Mel Watkins), African American Humor: The Best Black Comedy from Slavery to Today (Library of Black America)
  • Robert Lee Green, Dick Gregory, daring Black leader
  • African American Humor: The Best Black Comedy from Slavery to Today (editor) ISBN 1-55652-430-7

The King Alfred Plan 

th (1)There are not many people who know about the King Alfred Plan. I first heard about it back in the seventies. What is the King Alfred Plan. It was a plan drawn up by the U.S Government to put black people and others in concentration camps. Since in the case of black people not having a place to be deported too. the plan was to build or find places to lock them up!

It was officially known as REX-84. The King Alfred Plan was a CIA-led scheme supporting an international effort to eliminate people of African descent. Although they claimed, its existence was fictional. Specifically, it defined how to deal with the threat of a black uprising in the United States by cordoning off black people and putting them into concentration camps in the event of a major racial incident.

The plan was drafted, allegedly, in the 50s to round up black people at the start of race riots; segregate them and move them to concentration camps or a separate location and kill them off, literally. This plan first appeared publicly in John A. Williams’ his 1967 novel, The Man Who Cried I Am, which was a fictionalized account of the life and death of Richard Wright.

We know the concept is not too much of a stretch because we know for a fact that J. Edgar Hoover devised intelligence programs (COINTELPRO) to monitor the movements of black militants and to eliminate them in the 1960s. As a result, word of the King Alfred Plan spread throughout the black community and the truth of its existence was often assumed to be unchallenged.

It also bears similarities to rumors in the early 1950s surrounding the McCarran Act, an anti-Communist law, in which political subversives were to be rounded up and placed in concentrations camps during a national emergency. As was done to the Japanese during World War II.

When his novel was first published, Williams photocopied portions of the book detailing the King Alfred Plan and left copies in subway car seats around Manhattan. The great performer and musician Gil Scott-Heron created the song “King Alfred Plan,” included on his “LP” in 1972 that takes the Plan at face value.

I did a little digging and found information online that have now been declassified. Of course, there is much more to this plan than is being released to the public. If you think that this kind of thing cannot happen in the America, think again. It has already happened! The only difference NOW is that we will not be so lucky because the problem with our people we have gotten too comfortable and satisfied with our plight. We trust in oppression and hardships that come with it.

Let me make it simple martial law, no-knock laws, or the Patriot Act! I am not a conspiracy theorist, but we now know that in regions all over the country, they can and do cordon off neighborhoods and bring in the National Guard in a matter of hours. The police force acts as an occupying force in every black community.

Some might say prisons are the precursor to the plan. I say, prisons are the unconscious result! Therefore, again, it is not much of a stretch to think they are preparing a place for you, and it’s not that place talked about on Sundays where this place has streets paved with gold or the cop’s will shot you down and kill you! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Christianity Began With The Council Of Nicaea

th (11)It is well known, possibly a fact, that Black people are the most religious people on the Planet. They will out Pope the Pope! They have given more and gotten less for their devotion than any other people, yet most still believe in that which was created by Europeans – if you don’t know the code, it means white folk! Why because there is a lot of money in the name Jesus Christ.

The believers of the Christian faith are so devoted that most can’t see what’s in front of their faces. Interestingly enough, the Christian practice and the faith was imposed upon black people was stolen from the African culture, and some time under direst! I might add two things here: Jesus was not a Christian in his life, and there was no word G-O-D in any African language before the coming of Europeans. Also, the letter “J” used to spell Jesus did not exist until the 1600s.

A friend, a good Christian woman or as she claimed, tried to convince me as most Christians do to believe what she believes or perhaps tried to convert me to HER GOD. For whatever reason, she thought she was the only person who believes in the Almighty. The conversation started because she was preaching verses from the King James version of the Bible along with other falsehoods concerning Christianity. Being that I love history and know it, she made a huge mistake!

The discussion got heated, from her point of view, when I told her that King James was the King of England and lived around 1600. He commissioned his people to have his version of the Bible written, which is what she reads. She did not know that King James was a diabolical ruler, a homosexual, and actually killed his own mother. I ask her a question that every Christian should know. For example, I asked if she knew anything about the conference held in Nicaea. This staunchly religious woman had no knowledge of either, yet she claims to preach the “Word.” So I thought I would give her the history of Christianity, which, by the way, is very different from faith.

First, Jesus was not a Christian while he was alive, and it did not become a religion for many years after his death. From that point, I moved to the Council of Nicaea, which took place more than three hundred years after Jesus lived in 325 A.D. This historic meeting, by order of the Roman Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine, by the way, was a murder, defined or created Christianity as we know it. Nicaea was located in Asia Minor, east of Constantinople. At the Council of Nicaea, Emperor Constantine presided over a group of church bishops and leaders with the purpose of defining the true God for all Christians and eliminating all the confusion, controversy, and contention within Christ’s church.

The Council of Nicaea affirmed the deity of Jesus Christ, painted by a European around the same time, and removed his blackness from the consciousness of the faith. There is no need to debate Jesus’ completion because, at that point in time, there were only two people in the region – Romans and Jews to which it is a fact that black people were the original Jew. At that conference, Constantine established an official definition of the Trinity – the deity of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit under one Godhead, in three coequal and co-eternal Persons.

Constantine and this is debatable, a converted Christian, called for a council meeting to be held in Nicaea with the bishops of the Christian church to resolve escalating quarrels and controversy mounting to a bitter degree of disunity among the church leadership concerning theological issues. The failing Roman Empire, now under Constantine’s rule, could not withstand the division caused by years of hard-fought, “out of hand” arguing over doctrinal differences. He saw it not only as a threat to Christianity but as a threat to his rule.

Therefore, at the Council of Nicaea, Constantine demanded that the Christians settle their internal disagreements and become Christ-like agents who could bring new life into a troubled, beaten-down empire. Constantine felt “called,” to use his authority to help bring about the unity, peace, and love, all for which Christ stands. He and the bishops had reason to worry about the future survival of Christianity within the Roman world empire, let alone the survival of his world empire. The Council of Nicaea, led by Emperor Constantine, the main purpose was to save the Roman Empire – period! The meeting designed to settle differences control the minds of his subjects all to the glory of Christ. It is also important to note that “Christ” is not a name but a title.

The main theological issue and focus had always been about Christ or so His-Story tells us. Since the end of the Apostolic Age and beginning of the Church Age, Saints began questioning, debating, fighting, and separating over the question, “Who is the Christ?” Is He more divine than human or more human than divine? Was Jesus created, made or begotten? Being the Son of God, is He coequal and co-eternal with Father God, or less and lower in status than the Father? Is the Father the One and only True God, or are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit the One true God? “True God of True God,” “One Being, Three Persons,” a tri-unity called “Trinity”? Jesus said, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

Once the Nicaea Council meeting was underway, Constantine demanded that the 300 bishops make a decision by majority vote answering the question – defining who Jesus Christ is. Constantine commanded the bishops create a “creed” doctrine that all of Christianity would follow and obey. This doctrine would be called the “Nicene Creed,” upheld by the Church and enforced by the Emperor.

The bishops voted to make the full deity of Christ the accepted position for the church. The Council of Nicaea voted to make the Trinity the official doctrine of the church. However, the Council of Nicaea did not invent these doctrines. Rather, it only recognized what the Bible taught, and systematized the doctrines. So it was here that Christianity as we know it was established.

The New Testament teaches that Jesus the Messiah should be worshiped and trusted, which was/is to say He is co-equally God and man. The New Testament forbids the worship of angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 22:8,9) but commands worship of Jesus. The Apostle Paul tells us that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9;1:19). Paul declares Jesus as Lord and the One to whom a person must pray for salvation just as one calls on Jehovah, Yahweh (Joel 2:32; Romans 10:9-13). “Jesus is God overall” (Romans 9:5), and our God and Savior (Titus 2:13). Faith in Jesus’ Deity is basic to Paul’s testimony and theology.

John’s Gospel declares Jesus the be the Divine eternal Logos, agent of creation and source of life and light (John 1:1-5,9); the “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6); an advocate with heavenly Father (1 John 2:1-2); sovereign (Revelation 1:5); the Rider on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16); and the totality of the Son of God from the beginning to the end (Revelation 22:13). The author of Hebrews reveals the full deity of Jesus through His perfection as the highest priest, Melchizedek (Hebrews 1; Hebrews 7:1-3), and the full humanity (Hebrews 2). The Divine-human Savior is the Christian’s object of faith, hope, and love.

The Council of Nicaea affirmed the Apostles’ teaching of who Christ is – the One true God in Deity and Trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. When I shared this fact, my devoted Christian friend admitted she was not aware of this or that this is why the Catholic Church, the same church that sanctioned slavery, was to be the authority of the Word.

At the end of our conversation, I reminded my friend that King James’ twenty-eighth version of the Bible in many ways took a page out of history using the good book to solidify his reign. My point is simple: three-hundred year after Jesus lived Constantine gave us a version and sixteen-hundred years later King James did it again and not a word was written while Jesus walked the earth.

Believe whatever you wish but if you preach – know what it is you are preaching. God means “Good Orderly Direction,” and that power comes from within your spirit that produces knowledge and that knowledge coming from your soul is power! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Read my article “Pimp’s In The Pulpit

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Celebrate Black Music Month

This month, Black Music Month, is as profound to the African America Diaspora as Black History Month. We are the inventors and creators of sounds that changed world cultures.

If we were to begin way back in the cradle of civilization centuries ago it all began with the drum. When we were captured and brought to the so-called New World we brought with us the rhythms that dictate our souls. It is a fact that African American people are responsible for the great music known as Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Soul, R&B, Rap, Hip Hop, and just about every musical sound we hear that featured and directly speak to the glorious past.

During the despicable era of slavery and segregation prior to the Civil Rights Movement the hallowing sounds of gospel music delivered an in-your-face sound that fed the souls of a people and that outlet produced some of the most timeless music ever created. Before I go further, let’s remember that it was Michael Jackson whose music video was the first black music to air on MTV.

This brings me to historic and game-changing record label – Motown and its founder Mr. Barry Gordy. Let’s be honest, can you imagine a world without The “Motown Sound”. For many who don’t know or have forgotten, prior to Motown Records rarely did you see the face of an African American on the cover of an album or black music heard on white radio. The music we enjoyed was called “race music” and it was segregated in the same way America was prior to 1959, when Motown was founded. Prior to Motown Records few black performers enjoyed anything close to crossover success. By the way, an album is what was used to play music before CD’s.

Motown was the first record label owned by an African American to primarily feature African-American artists and its soul-based subsidiaries were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as The Motown Sound, which was a style of soul music with a distinct influence. From its Hitsville U.S.A building on 2648 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, Michigan that served as Motown’s headquarters produced the most universally recognized stable of songwriters and performers of our time or anytime.

The music produced by Motown made a nation of people living in this nation without a nationality proud with its awe-inspiring run of hits that spoke to the essence of our souls. Form a tiny little basement studio we were introduced to Michael Jackson, the Supremes, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, the Miracles, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Four Tops, the Commodores, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Rick James, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Teena Marie, DeBarge, the Jackson Five, Martha and the Vandellas, the Marvelettes and Motown’s Funk Brothers studio band; just to name a few of the artists that graced our souls and touched our hearts making us proud.

Many of Motown’s best-known hits were written by Smokey Robinson, Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield and the songwriting trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland who became major forces in the music industry. For example, it’s a known fact in the music industry that in order to get a number one hit song someone would have to write more than thirty songs. Holland-Dozier-Holland had a string of more than fifty hits in a row with some becoming number one with several different artists like the hit “I heard it through the Grapevine”. This is profound and will never happen again. No songwriter will ever achieve this feat – guaranteed.

Although Mr. Gordy sold Motown and it’s now in the hands of others its legacy resides in a very special place in my heart. I’m sure with you and millions around the world as well. So again I say, thank you Motown for the music, the love, the magic, and the many great memories.

Lastly, to the legends who are no longer able to perform for us today – thank you for your contribution – Rest in Peace. My guess is that they are walking around heaven all day singing with gleeful harmony the same way as it touched our souls when they were with us in this earthly realm. It must make haven more glorious and wonderful than I could ever imagine. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

JUST A SEASON


The Great Mr. Ruffin

B6Abw9_CQAABg5qI’ve been blessed to have lived during a time when the music of our culture reached center-stage and changed the world. Of all of the great voices, I’ve heard during my time, I can say none has been more distinctive and profound than that of David Ruffin. I’ll gladly say, I feel blessed to have had my life enhanced by his music.

As we are about to celebrate Black History Month, I want to pay homage to this man whose music was a huge influence on my life, particularly my young life, to which I am grateful. In an interview after Temptation movie, something his son said struck me as profound. He said, “My daddy wanted love, but he got fame.” We know from the many talented artists to leave us of late that there is a line between triumph and tragedy. That line is often thin and frequently ends sadly. David Ruffin walked that line with tragic consequences.

Ruffin will always be remembered as the mightiest of all the Temptations’ lead singers. He was one of “the voices” that made the Temptations, and his legacy will live on in the depths of our souls as long as there is time. We will remember that sexy, gritty voice, those trademark glasses, and that stage charisma that sums up the one and only David Ruffin, and even that little crack in his voice was ok, well it wasn’t ok, but that was David Ruffin. To put his legacy into context; he achieved legendary status after only being with the Temptations for about four years.

His songs were like windows into his soul, exposing his greatest fears as a lover and a man. Even “happy” songs like “My Girl” brought out vulnerability in his voice. His relationship with the Temptations was a stormy one, but the marriage produced defining moments in 1960s soul, and his voice inspired just about every male vocalist – his influence is everlasting. We’ll never know how good he might have been, but we can rejoice in what he left behind.

Born Davis Eli Ruffin, on January 18, 1941, in Whynot, Mississippi. A sickly child inflicted with both rheumatic fever and asthma. His mother died in childbirth, and he was raised by his father, a Baptist Minister. He was a complex man and master vocalist with a gospel-trained voice that would gain him the affection of several generations of listeners, but Ruffin had more than a voice – he had a persona.

In the best of his music, there was a dark, terrible, tragic, and personal beauty. A good example would be in his self-penned composition “Statue of a Fool,” written when he was just 18 years old, in which he sees himself as a “man who lets love slip through his hands.”

My favorite line in that tune was “On his face, a gold tear should be placed to honor every tear he shed. And I think it would show, and everyone would know, concealed inside is a broken heart.” This was a powerful statement that spoke to the depth of his soul. However, as history would record he would share his most private pain in the Temptations’ biggest hits; “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Since I Lost My Baby”, and the chilling “I Wish It Would Rain.

All of these songs were rooted in gospel where David began, singing in The Ruffin Family and The Spiritual Trying Four with his father, his sister Rita Mae and older brothers Jimmy and Quincy. David left home at 13 following his father’s footsteps to practice the ministry but was sidetracked, singing in Memphis talent shows where he met a young Elvis Presley. He later sang with the gospel group; The Dixie Nightingales out of Memphis, Tennessee, and toured with The Womack Brothers, The Swan Silvertones, and The Staple Singers.

It was with these gospel groups that Ruffin would develop his stage personality, dropping to his knees and doing splits just like the late Jackie Wilson before him. David’s show-stopping performances within the group would be enough to get him noticed on the secular side.

Then, in 1964, when problems arose between the Temptations and group member Elbridge Bryant, David would be invited to join the group. Shortly after David’s arrival, the group would record “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” a Smokey Robinson number with Eddie Kendricks on lead. Gone for a three-week gig in Saginaw, Michigan, the group would return home to find themselves with their first hit. It is said, when David saw the chart standings, he sat down on the long chaise lounge in the Motown lobby, took off his glasses, and cried like a baby.

Ruffin would turn out be an electrifying and dynamic force and set a course for stardom with their first universal #1 hit, “My Girl,” recorded just before Christmas in 1964, a tune that would turn the group into a household word and legends. The group began turning out one hit after another, and when David took such up-tempo hits as “(I know), I’m Losing You,” to the stage, he became a magnetic field of charisma. His greatness would then shine, and his permanent mark on the pages of history was sealed.

At his home-going service, Stevie Wonder told the audience: “We’re confronted with a problem that touches everyone of us. We’re confronted with the most devastating slave owner of all times.” Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, who spoke at his funeral told the mournful audience, “In David there is a lesson. We should not clap our hands and mourn, for he is out of trouble now. You are still in it.” It is not my intent to rewrite history or to re-tell a story that we all know. Rather to simply to remind us that he is gone – but not forgotten. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Rest In Peace

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“Just a Season”

Happy Birthday Luther Vandross

2It is with great pride and pleasure I take in resurrecting the ghost of the greats that enriched my life, and dare I say made the world a better place.  I’ve highlighted and spotlighted many enormous champions of the African American experience, along with many who, regardless of their station, changed the world and made tremendous contributions. This was to also include the monumental musical giants of our time. In fact, I would be remissed if I did not acknowledge the spirits of those artists and entertainers whose presence will live within us for eternity.

I am rarely at a loss for words, but the voice of Luther Ronzoni Vandross was so passionate and powerful that I have no words; other than to say the day Luther Vandross transitioned to the great beyond was a mighty loss. We will never hear a voice of such quality, sweetness, or grace every again. So on this day I want to put you in a mellow mood with these attached videos of the legacy Luther left for use to enjoy. Rest In Peace. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remebering: Donny Hathaway

1xI am one who believes anyone can be taught how to do anything, but few are naturally given the rare gift of a unique and special talent like the great Donny Hathaway. This great musician man was one of a kind, in fact, Donny Edward Hathaway was the best natural jazz, blues, soul, R&B, and gospel vocalist and musician the world has known. Also, his collaborations with Roberta Flack are legendary as the scored high on the charts. The huge hit “where is the Love” won him a Grammy Award.

At the height of his career, Hathaway was diagnosed with a mental disorder and was known not to take his prescribed medication regularly enough to properly control his symptoms. On January 13, 1979, Hathaway’s body was found outside the luxury hotel Essex House in New York City that was ruled a suicide.

Donny Hathaway worked as songwriter, session musician and producer. Working first at Chicago’s Twinight Records, he later did the arrangements for hits by The Unifics on the song “Court of Love” and “The Beginning Of My End”. He also took part in projects by The Staple Singers, Jerry Butler, Aretha Franklin, The Impressions and Curtis Mayfield. He became a “house producer” for Mayfield’s label, Curtom Records recording there as a member of The Mayfield Singers. Donny recorded his first single under his own name in 1969 on a duet with singer June Conquest called “I Thank You Baby”.

It was not until he signed with Atco Records after being spotted for the label by producer/musician King Curtis at a trade convention that his prominence became evident. He released his first groundbreaking single The Ghetto, Pt. 1″, which he co-wrote with former Howard roommate Leroy Hutson, who became a performer, writer, and producer with Curtom. The track appeared the following year on his critically acclaimed debut LP, “Everything is Everything”, which he co-produced with Ric Powell while also arranging all the cuts.

Donny’s star really shined when he released his second LP titled “Donny Hathaway” that consisted mostly of covers of contemporary pop, soul, and gospel songs. His third album “Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway was an album of duets with former Howard University classmate and label mate Roberta Flack that established him, especially on the pop charts. The album was both a critical and commercial success that included the Ralph MacDonald track “Where is the Love”, which proved to be not only an R&B success but also scored Top Five on the pop Hot 100.

In my view, his most influential recording is his 1972 album – “Live”, which has been termed “one of the best live albums ever recorded” by Daryl Easlea of the BBC. However, the song that cemented Donny’s legacy was “This Christmas”. To this very day, it does not seem like Christmas until you hear this song. The song, released in 1970, has become a holiday staple and is often used in movies, television, and advertising. “This Christmas” has been covered by numerous artists across diverse musical genres, including The Whispers, Dianna Ross, , Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Chicago, Harry Connick, Jr., Dru Hill, NSYNC, Gloria Estefan, Boney James, The Cheetah Girls, Chris Brown, and Patti LaBelle.

On January 13, 1979, Brother Donny transitioned this life to be with the ancestors! I want to bring his name into remembrance as he continues to rest in our hearts. Therefore, I would be remissed if I did not pay homage to the musical mastery of Mr. Donny Hathaway for his spirit lives in the souls of all of us because his music uplifted, empowered, and made us proud! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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