Tag Archives: Marvin Gaye

Remembering The Ghost Of The Greats

1-I woke up this morning to the sweet sounds of soul blasting from my radio that inspired and lifted my spirits immensely. Having been awakened to a new day in such a profound way. I decided to offer my remembrance to the amazing crooners, songstress’, prolific singer-songwriters and record producers who’ve transitioned to that wonderful place all of us wish to go. Their amazing talent must make-up the most amazing heavenly choir.

We know black music has influenced every sound or beat they every made and of course, as they have in much of world history they stole what was rightfully ours. So let’s take a moment and pay homage to the innovators and creators of such amazing music. I have said many things I cannot imagine a world without Motown or that of the great black music legends!

As I began to wondering what it must be like as the ghosts of the greats walk around heaven or wherever we go in the afterlife gathering for a concert to sing that music the meant so much to us in this life. The harmony must be simply amazing. When these great artists were alive and with us; black music – soul music – was awesome. Thankfully, they left us their gifts of sound for us to forever enjoy.

I’ll just name a few choir member that are walking around heaven all day: Whitney Houston, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Marvin Gaye, Billy Preston, James Brown, Etta James, Donny Hathaway, Isaac Hayes, Nic Ashford, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Tammie Terrell, Teena Marie, Levi Stubbs, Barry White, Grover Washington, Johnny Taylor, Bob Marley, Gerald Levert, Ray Charles, Maurice White, and Michael Jackson. Although it’s impossible to name them all – BUT WE MISS AND LOVE YOU!

Times were much difficult for black people because of your work. You added hope to our struggle and your souls brought out such creative music albeit from the secular world and the church – we were overjoyed. Today’s black artists do not know what it is to be innovative or create their own music, and if they do, they do not have what I know as soul, you hardly feel anything. The new generation started producing their music, often times, in such negative a way that it affects the black community in what I view as negative ways. Is it because they did not learn from the great artist that came before them or know what it means to be creative.

What I see and hear, for the most part, black music could be at the point of no return. Furthermore, the artists who are now deceased singing in that glorious choir in this place called heaven were originals who never imitated to gain fame. These days, you have a lot of imitators, and this is one of the main reasons why we have few black artists today that touch our souls.

Moreover or sadly is that the new generation of artists, for the most part, seem to have no knowledge of what soul music means spiritually or simply understand how to be original. So to the ghosts of the greats – Rest In Peace – you will be remembered for all times. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


What’s Going On?

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I think of Malcolm X every day and the messages he left for us concerning the black community. He said to a people, he called Afro-American’s, who he loved so dearly that “You have been hoodwinked, bamboozled, and run amuck.” I often wonder what he or any of the mighty soldiers, who fought and died during the struggle for the most basic of human rights, would say if they could see what has happened to the people they love, fought and died for trying to give them hope.

From my vantage point, I think they would feel like they died in vain. I would also say, at the very least, they would be ashamed of what they would see happening to in the black community today. It saddens me, and maybe you too that most of contemporary African American’s seem to have forgotten what the struggle was like and the sacrifices made by so many.

Frankly, these new Negro’s, now called African Americans have failed to teach our young people the true history of how horrible it was to be treated worse than a dog. Worse yet, there are those who are of the opinion that “We have overcome.” NOT! What has happened is that the movement the “our ancestors” championed, so successfully, has divided us. We support everyone else’s issue and cause instead of our own.

The problems we face, by and large, are not because of the choices people make with respect to one’s beliefs, rather the problems black people face is because we are black. People of color rank at the bottom of nearly every category, be it health, education, unemployment, and poverty. Unfortunately, this group does hold the dubious distinction of being first in the categories of murdering each other and incarceration!

Yes, the community has run amuck! Black men are being feminized, and our women are being emasculated. It is to the point that we see men openly dressing as women and proudly flaunting themselves. Little boys confused acting like girls. Black women are acting like “men.” However, the more serious concern is that blacks are killing each other at a higher rate than the “Klan” and have convinced themselves its hip and cool.

The high school dropout rate is atrocious. For example in the city of Baltimore, nearly three-quarters of students who enter high school do not complete. Our children have no respect for you, me, or themselves. Nearly every black man or woman has had some interaction with the justice system and any interaction with it is a negative interaction.

Before integration, the black family was the envy of all other culture, in spite of the wretchedness of Jim Crow. Children out of wedlock were minimal, we married, and black marriages survived. The family was the most important aspect of life and our community. This is how you build a nation and the future. Today, nearly eighty-percent of black women are unmarried, and most have children out of wedlock. Men neglect their off-springs and belittle black women. So what happens to the village and the family?

Marvin Gaye asked a profound question many years ago. He asked, “What’s happening, brother. I want to know. What’s the deal, man what’s happening?” I want to know what it is – what’s happening?” I’ll say as Dr. King said in his last speeches, “We have some DIFFICULT DAYS AHEAD.” Marching and praying is not the answer; it’s time to wake up! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


A Tribute To Black Music

5White folk use to call music sung by black performers race music as they pretended not to listen to it – but stole it for white artists to use; nonetheless. Since it is true that black people are the first people to make a sound, the drum has been the foundation of rhythm since the beginning of time. Music is a world all unto itself, and some say it is the greatest communicator.

If we were to go way back to the cradle of civilization eon’s ago; it all began with the drum. When the African was captured they brought the drum to the so-called New World; bringing the rhythms that dictated our souls. It is a fact that African American people are responsible for creating all of the great music genres; Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Soul, R&B, Rap, Hip-Hop, and just about every musical sound we hear directly speaks to our glorious past.

During the despicable era of slavery and segregation, before the Civil Rights Movement, the mystical sounds of gospel music delivered an in-your-face sound that fed the souls of black 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 just a short while ago.

I want to pay special homage to a place that was just tiny little building in Detroit that became the Mecca of black music called Motown, also known as Hitsville that changed that world. Its existence was historic and game-changing – thanks to 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, before Motown Records rarely did you see the face of an African American on the cover of an album or black music heard on mainstream radio.

The music we enjoyed and others stole was called “Race Music.” As strange as seems music was segregated the same way America was prior to the 1960s at the time Motown was founded. Before Motown, few black performers enjoyed nothing close to crossover success. By the way, an album is what was used to play music before CDs.

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

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 and from that tiny little basement studio. The world was 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 number one 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 hearts as well as millions around the world. 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 with us to perform – 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 heaven more glorious and wonderful than one could ever imagine. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Happy Birthday Flo: The Original Dream Girl

22Remembering Florence Ballard on the day of her birth! I thought about titling this piece “Supremely Floriffic” because she was the founding member of the original and most popular girl group The Supremes. Yet, history records her as “The Forgotten Supreme”.

Florence, Diana Ross and Mary Wilson grew up in the now demolished Brewster Projects of Detroit. To make a fascinating story short, after begging Motown Records founder Berry Gordy for work, they were hired to sing. They recorded a string of hits for Motown, which still stand as a museum on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit. Florence Ballard had a very soulful voice that added great harmony to the group.

Few Motown acts could be put into the same caliber as The Supremes. Some say the Beatles were the greatest group of that era, but I differ in that because almost any Motown act would amply fit in that category, if it were not for racism. You see most black groups of that era were restricted by their color to perform on what was known as the “Chitlin Circuit”. Until Motown, the work of black artists fell into a category called “Race Music”.

Regardless of the real reason or the reason you might believe for her dismissal. In 1967, Ballard was removed from the Supremes lineup and replaced her with Cindy Birdsong. Flo signed away, all her rights to “The Supremes”, for $139.804 in 1968, in a hush/hush meeting in the Northland Inn. After leaving the group, she signed with ABC Records in 1968 forging on an unsuccessful solo career.

It is presumed the 1981 Broadway musical Dreamgirls that chronicles a fictional group called “The Dreams” had a number of plot components that paralleled events in the Supremes’ career. The central character of Effie White, like Florence Ballard, is criticized for being overweight, and is fired from the group.

The film version of Dreamgirls released in 2006 features more overt references to Ballard’s life and the Supremes’ story, including gowns and album covers that are direct copies of Supremes originals. Jennifer Hudson won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her portrayal of Effie White. In her Golden Globe acceptance speech, Hudson dedicated her win to Florence Ballard.

As a member, Ballard sang on sixteen top forty singles with the group, including ten number-one hits. After being dropped from the label, Ballard struggled with many of life’s problems for a period of three years. Ballard was making an attempt for a musical comeback when she died of cardiac in February of 1976 at the age of 32. Ballard’s death was considered by one critic as “one of music’s greatest tragedies”. Ballard was posthumously inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Supremes in 1988.

On Friday, Feb 27th, almost 5000 people lined the street in front of the New Bethel Baptist Church to say goodbye to her. Diana Ross arrived and was booed by the crowd. The Reverend C.L. Franklin (Aretha’s dad) presided over the service. Members of the Four Tops, Marvin Johnson and Thearon Hill served as pallbearers and Stevie Wonder was an honorary one.

In the spirit of Black History I will not dishonor Flo’s memory with innuendo or any of the rumors that have circulated during and since her death. However, I will say this, not unlike many artists who live a soap-opera type career. She as well as many of Motown’s successful group lends credence to the old belief that great art comes from troubled lives. But even in the face of hardship their legend remains for all of eternity.Sleep well and rest in peace “Dream Girl”. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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The Most Profound Question Of Our Time

th (12)It was asked and spoken nearly forty five years ago and the question is still asked, yet dare I say there is still no answer “What’s Going On”! I am one who believes everybody knows but the devastation in the “Hood” is by designed”. There is still war, poverty, police brutality, and most black people continue to live in concentration camps. So the question is WHY!!!

Listen to Marvin and ask yourself – WHY? And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Happy Birthday Marvin Gaye

B6Abw9_CQAABg5qMusic has been made, in some form or another since mankind first beat the drum and hummed the first tune or made the first sound. Let me say that it is a fact, and I will say for the record, it was done first by black people. Of course, we know that music has been sung and written for every genre. But, I will tell you that nobody did it better than the stable of artists assembled by Mr. Barry Gordy founder of Motown Records.

I don’t have enough paper to name all of the stars who made all that great music or list the catalog of hits produced. To give you an idea, I’ll just mention a few: Michael Jackson, Dianna Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Supremes, Lionel Richie, and I could go on and on! But I want to pay homage to the most profound of all of the Motown artists, and maybe the most troubled, of them all – Marvin Gaye.

Through this writing, I won’t get into the life problems of the man because most of us know the story. What I want to do is speak to the genius of the man and of course as we know there is a thin line between genius and insanity. It is not that I’m saying that Marvin was insane, rather as he said himself – troubled! Marvin made wonderful music with groups, solo, and with great female artists such as Tammi Terrell, Kim Weston, Diana Ross, and Mary Wells.

What I want to do is to remind you of the timeless impact Marvin had on all of us. It was on June 10, 1970, when Marvin returned to the Hitsville U.S.A. studios to record a new composition, “What’s Going On”, inspired by an idea from Renaldo “Obie” Benson of the Four Tops after he witnessed an act of Police Brutality at an anti-war rally in San Francisco. Marvin later played the song to Berry Gordy, who refused to release it due mainly to its jazz-oriented sound, which Gordy labeled “outdated”. As a result, Marvin refused to record unless Motown released the song.

The song was released on January 17, 1971, and quickly shot to number one on the R&B charts within a month staying there for five weeks, also reaching number-two on the Billboard pop chart and number one on Cashbox’s pop chart for a week, selling over a million copies. Emboldened by its success, Motown then allowed Marvin to record a full album. The album became Gaye’s first million-selling album and featured two more top-ten hits “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and “Inner City Blue”.

The album made history as it became one of Motown’s first autonomous works, without the help of Motown’s staff producers. Its themes and segue flow brought the concept album format to rhythm and blues music. The album was later hailed as “the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices”.

What makes the “What’s Going On” album significant; it is the most socially conscience and profound recording of all times and it stands the test of time. Meaning, you can play it today and see that we face the same issues as we did in 1971. “What’s Going On” is as relevant today as it was over forty years ago. With that said, shouldn’t we listen to the tune again and make an effort to change the world from what it used to be. Happy Birthday, Marvin Gaye!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


A Salute To Motown Records

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We are the inventors and creators of the 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 the drum that dictated the rhythms souls. It is a fact that Black people are responsible for the great music known to the world as Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Soul, R&B, Rap, Hip Hop, and just about every musical sound we hear speaks directly to our glorious past.

During the despicable era’s 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, it was not unlike the days when they called our music “race music” and radio would not play it for white audiences; let’s remember that it was Michael Jackson whose music video was the first black music to air on MTV.

This brings me to the historic, 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 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 feature black 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. housed in a tiny building on 2648 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, Michigan that served as Motown’s headquarters producing the most universally recognized stable of songwriters and performers of our time or any time.

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.

It was from that tiny little basement studio where the world was 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 touched our hearts making us proud. Oh, even Dr. Martin Luther King recorded and album at Motown!

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, as I am sure with you and millions around the world. So again I say, thank you, Motown for the music, the love, the magic, and the many great memories.

Lastly, to the legends that 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 heaven more glorious than I could ever imagine. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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