Tag Archives: servant of god

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

History’s Most Courageous Harriet Tubman

1Harriet Tubman, in my opinion, was the most courageous woman who ever lived, and my personal hero. Hidden in the tiny “dash” on her marker is her life’s work of being the great conductor of the Underground Railroad, a scout, spy, and nurse during the Civil War.

Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross sometimes referred to as “Moses.” The date of her actual birth is suspect because as a slave accurate birth records were not kept. Therefore, no one can say for sure as to the actual date. She always proclaimed her birth as 1825 but most historians believe she was born around 1820 or 1821.

After escaping from the slavery into which she was born, she made thirteen missions to rescue over seventy slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She once remarked that she could have saved a lot more if they had only known they were slaves. Her courage was that of unimaginable proportion because death was the penalty for such work.

Early in her life, she was told that she was of Ashanti lineage from what is now Ghana where her grandmother was captured. Her mother, Rit, struggled to keep their family together as slavery tried to tear it apart. Edward Brodess sold three of her daughters separating them from the family forever.

Once a trader from Georgia approached Brodess about buying Rit’s youngest son Moses; she hid him for a month, aided by other slaves and free blacks in the community. At one point she even confronted her owner about the sale. Finally, Brodess and “the Georgia man” came toward the slave quarters to seize the child where Rit told them: “You are after my son, but the first man that comes into my house I will split his head open.” Brodess backed away and abandoned the sale.

Because Tubman’s mother was assigned to “the big house” and had scarce time for her own family, as a child Tubman took care of a younger brother and a baby. At the age of five or six, she was hired out to a woman named “Miss Susan” as a nursemaid. Tubman was ordered to keep watch on her baby as it slept. When it woke or cried, Tubman was whipped.

She told of a particular day when she was lashed five times before breakfast. She carried these scars for the rest of her life. Threatened later for stealing a lump of sugar, Tubman hid in a neighbor’s pig sty for five days, where she fought with the animals for scraps of food. Starving, she returned to Miss Susan’s house and received a heavy beating.

Tubman was beaten and whipped regularly by her various masters to whom she had been hired out. She learned to protect herself from such abuse by wrapping herself in layers of clothing but cried out as if she was not protected. Tubman also worked as a child for a planter where her job was to go into nearby marshes to check the muskrat traps.

Even after contracting the measles, she was sent into waist high cold water. She became very ill and was sent back to her master. Her mother nursed her back to health, whereupon she was immediately hired out again to various farms. As she grew older and stronger, she was assigned to grueling field and forest work: driving oxen, plowing, and hauling logs.

Tubman’s father Ben was released from slavery at the age of forty-five, as stipulated in a former owner’s will, though his real age was closer to fifty-five. He continued working as a timber estimator and foreman for the Thompson family, who had owned him as a slave.

Several years later, Tubman contacted a white attorney and paid him five dollars to investigate her mother’s legal status. The lawyer discovered that a former owner had issued instructions that Rit, like her husband, would be manumitted at the age of forty-five. The record showed that a similar provision would apply to Rit’s children and that any children born after she reached forty-five years of age were legally free, but her owners ignored this stipulation.

Around 1844, she married a free black man named John Tubman. Although little is known about him or their time together, the union was complicated due to her slave status. Since the mother’s status dictated that of her children, any children born to Harriet and John would be enslaved. As a result of her master’s death the likelihood that Tubman would be sold increased and the family would be broken apart as their master’s widow would sell the family’s slaves. Tubman refused to wait for her owner’s family to decide her fate, despite her husband John’s efforts to dissuade her.

She escaped to Philadelphia and returned to Maryland to find her husband. However, John had married another woman named Caroline. Tubman sent word that he should join her, but he insisted that he was happy where he was. Tubman at first prepared to storm their house and make a scene but decided he was not worth the trouble. Suppressing her anger, she found some slaves who wanted to escape and led them to Philadelphia. John and Caroline raised a family together until he was killed sixteen years later in a roadside argument with a white man.

It is said, that she freed hundreds but when asked she said I could have saved many more if they only knew they were slaves. I don’t know what it says on her final marker but it should contain a simple inscription that says – “Servant of God”. In my opinion, she was the most significant black woman in our history!  And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Just a Season

AMAZON


An American Shame

“Disclaimer: This piece is long but it is knowledge everyone should know.”

2There have been many ways to suppress people over time; unfortunately, African Americans have endured the brunt of these efforts. As we know, the history of America reports that it was not only African American’s who were subjected or affected by these efforts. What I can report is that it was always a minority affected by these laws meant to ensure a permanent underclass.

This ideology began as indentured servants, then slavery, segregation, and now could it be conservatism. In each of these classifications there was a design called laws Black Codes, which I suppose make these immoral sanctions sound gentler. The truth is the sole purpose was to suppression rights. Kinda like the agenda behind the States Rights dog-whistles we hear today.

Black Codes were laws passed designed specifically to take away civil rights and civil liberties of African American on the state and local levels. This is the reason Conservatives desire a return to “States Rights” and speak of taking back their country because at the state level they can be unimpeded in turning back the hands of time.

Although, most of the discriminatory legislation, in terms of Black Codes, were used more often by Southern states to control the labor, movements and activities of newly freed slaves at the end of the Civil War. But as Malcolm X once said, “Anywhere south of Canada was south” meaning wherever you were in America you were subjected to discrimination in terms of the “separate but equal” laws, which was the law of the land.

The Black Codes of the 1860’s are not the same as the Jim Crow laws. The Black Codes were in reaction to the abolition of slavery and the South’s defeat in the Civil War. Southern legislatures enacted them during Reconstruction. The Jim Crow era began later, nearer to the end of the 19th century after Reconstruction, with its unwritten laws.

Then there were sundown laws, which meant Blacks, could not live or be caught in certain towns after dark. In some cases, signs were placed at the town’s borders with statements similar to the one posted in Hawthorne California that read “Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne” in the 1930’s. In some cases, exclusions were official town policy, restrictive covenants, or the policy was enforced through intimidation.

After the abolition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prior to that African Americans were considered 3/5’s human. Therefore, all former slave states adopted Black Codes. During 1865 every Southern state passed Black Codes that restricted the Freemen, who were emancipated but not yet full citizens. While they pursued re-admission to the Union, the Southern states provided freedmen with limited second-class civil rights and no voting rights. Southern plantation owners feared that they would lose their land. Having convinced themselves that slavery was justified, planters feared African Americans wouldn’t work without coercion. The Black Codes were an attempt to control them and to ensure they did not claim social equality.

The Black Codes outraged public opinion in the North because it seemed the South was creating a form of quasi-slavery to evade the results of the war. After winning large majorities in the 1866 elections, the Republicans put the South under military rule. They held new elections in which the Freedmen could vote. Suffrage was also expanded to poor whites. The new governments repealed all the Black Codes; they were never reenacted – OFFICALLY.

Many of these things are unknown to the generations of today because these injustices have been erased from our history and very little of it is taught in today’s classroom. For example, a sundown town was a town that was all white on purpose. The term was widely used in the United States and Canada in areas from Ohio to Oregon and well into the South. Even in Canada many towns in Southern Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec, were sundown towns prior to 1982, when it was outlawed. The term came from signs that were allegedly posted stating that people of color had to leave the town by sundown. They were also sometimes known as “sunset towns” or “gray towns”. Let me ask if you have ever been to a million dollar community – sound familiar.

The black codes that were enacted immediately after the Civil War, though varying from state to state, were all intended to secure a steady supply of cheap labor and all continued to assume the inferiority of the freed slaves. The black codes had their roots in the slave codes that had formerly been in effect. The premise behind chattel slavery in America was that slaves were property, and, as such, they had few or no legal rights. The slave codes, in their many loosely defined forms, were seen as effective tools against slave unrest, particularly as a hedge against uprisings and runaways. Enforcement of slave codes also varied, but corporal punishment was widely and harshly employed.

Let me highlight this example: In Texas, the Eleventh Legislature produced these codes in 1866. The intent of the legislation was to reaffirm the inferior position that slaves and free blacks had held in antebellum Texas and to regulate black labor. The codes reflected the unwillingness of white Texans to accept blacks as equals. You do remember “Juneteenth”? In addition, the Texans also feared that freedmen would not work unless coerced. Thus the codes continued legal discrimination between whites and blacks. The legislature, when it amended the 1856 penal code, emphasized the continuing line between whites and blacks by defining all individuals with one-eighth or more African blood as persons of color, subject to special provisions in the law.

Minorities were systematically excluded from living in or sometimes even passing through these communities after the sun went down. This allowed maids and workmen to provide unskilled labor during the day. Sociologists have described this as the nadir of American race relations. Sundown towns existed throughout the nation, but most often were located in the northern states that were not pre-Civil War slave states. There have not been any de jure sundown towns in the country since legislation in the 1960’s was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, although de facto sundown towns and counties, where no black family lives – still exist.

Therefore, we see hints of it in the racism that has raised its ugly head and risen to the surface of society’s consciousness, particularly in this political climate. Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and especially since the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited racial discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing, the number of sundown towns has decreased.

However, as sociologist suggest it is impossible to precisely count the number of sundown towns at any given time, because most towns have not kept records of the ordinances or signs that marked the town’s sundown status. It is important to note that sundown status meant more than just African Americans not being able to live in these towns. Essentially any African Americans or other groups who came into sundown towns after sundown were subject to harassment, threats, and violent acts; up to and including lynching.

As one historian has noted, “Racial segregation was hardly a new phenomenon because slavery had fixed the status of most blacks, no need was felt for statutory measures segregating the races. These restrictive Black Codes have morphed in one form or another to achieve its desired effect to maintain a superior status by the powers that be. I am only suggesting that we know and understand history for it will open the mind to what the future may present.

Frankly, if you don’t know where you came from you will never get to where you are going. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!!!


University Student Writes Malcolm X Is Valued Hero For Today’s Times

The social and cultural impact the late civil rights leader and human rights champion Malcolm X still maintains in today’s modern society is an amazing example of his valuable existence. While the former Nation of Islam minister’s criminal past and fiery vocal assaults against the White power structure at large often defined him, it was his later acceptance of humanity as a many-hued tapestry that broadened his global appeal.


Phoenix Rises

 
2Deep breath.
You cannot cry,
Cannot scream,
Cannot break,
 
Deep breath
Think of a calming rhythm that rivals the
dangerous hum of impending disappointment.
Think of a “happy place.”
            Such a joke
            Such a lie
 
How is any place happy?
When frustration
When sheer anger festers within one’s own self?
Breeding a new being unrecognizable to the kind soul that once cradled an equally as kind person
Doesn’t that make the idea of a happy place void?
Impossible to attain?
A wish on a star that you know you will never reach.
 
But if you could,
if you could have the experience of the bliss of flying,
would you ever make it to that star?
If you could feel the wind race past your ears,
and experience the weightlessness of Space,
would you not perish from the lack of oxygen,
perish from the reality of a lack of necessity.
 
Deep breath
It is simple.
You cannot survive on hopes alone.
They do not feed you.
They are not the necessity, right?
And yet you fantasize about making the impossible possible.
 
For no good reason.
Nothing outside of.
I know it can be done….
So on the off chance that you can make it,
That you manage to reach and to touch that ever bright star…
will you sear your outstretched fingers upon contact?
Admit defeat as you blister and bubble under the white hot failure?
 
Deep breath.
Such is the nature of hope,
            Of wishes,
            Of dreams.
 
You can work to succeed,
Succeed to achieve,
Come within your bated breath of accomplishment-
And it could all be for naught.
That’s what happens when you get too close.
When you dare to cross the lines Fate has set as boundary for you.
 
It can all burn,
Returning back to the ashes of the previous failure upon which it was born.
All the hard work thrown directly into what seems to be
the merciless, incendiary clutches of Hell itself.
You’re left without options and decide to try to regain self.
These are dark, bottomless thoughts and you cannot fall.
Calm yourself.
 
Deep breath
You are the foundation for others with seemingly silly dreams
            With endless hopes
            With starry-eyed wishes
And you are not yet heartless enough to tell them that
It is never what it seems.
That it may all have started as and may become again-
nothing.
 
Deep breath
You cannot be seen crying
You cannot crack before Them.
Try once more.
Wake to your new dawn
Just as the Darkness again loses its eternal battle with the Sun,
Dust off  your own dreams
            Hopes
            Wishes.
Renew them upon this bright nothing.
A new start at something old.
A fresh take on something worn,
And continue to inspire.
 
Breathe deeply
You need not cry.
You need not scream.
And his is no time to break.
Think of your calming rhythm.
The day is yours.
 
This daily phoenix rise to your sense of purpose,
Is your “happy place”. Make a home here.
Where your People can take their own calming breaths,
And thrive.
2

By Kathryn Sabir-Beach


The Father Of Black History

2Carter G. Woodson was the most thought provoking African America of the last century. He is credited with the father of Black History and the founder of the Journal of Negro History. I honor him because he had the foresight of thought or maybe a vision to create what we now know as Black History Month. I think I speak for all African America’s when I say we are grateful that he had the vision to bringing our community information about our people through what was then called Negro History Week. It evolved during the 1970s to what we now know as Black History Month.

His-Story will prove true that until 1918 there was virtually no information about black people recorded because white America claimed Negro’s had no history. Thanks to Dr. Woodson, he proved that was a lie and changed that impression and showed us that we had a mighty past. Of course there are those who will disagree but His-Story is clear that “Colored’s” given a birth certificate until about 1900. Before then it was recorded via a “Bill of Sale”.

Aside from the concept of introducing Black History to us Dr. Woodson’s most enduring legacy was the novel “The Mis-Education of the Negro” originally published in 1933. When I read it many years ago, it was an amazing experience because I realized that the message remains relevant today. I feel this book should be mandatory reading for all African America’s – young and old.

I am still struck by the fact that we have not understood the powerful message contained within its pages. The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that Negro’s of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools or not taking advantage of education period. This conditioning, he claims, causes African Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. This assertion is clearly evident nearly eighty-years later.

He challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves, regardless of what they were taught: “History shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning.”

Today with all the advantages concerning educational opportunities, business exposure, and social networking we are in the best position to succeed than at any time in our history. So the question is “why are we not networking and doing business with each other?” Every other ethnic community takes advantage these options to strengthen and empower themselves – while robbing our communities in the process. We will let anybody setup shop in our communities and take our money.

My point is: We must learn to do business with each other in order to gain wealth by keeping the money in our community. Some say we spend TRILLION’S annually and nearly all of it leaves our community within 15 minutes. Let me remind you that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. We can change the world but first we must change ourselves.

Here is a quote from the “The Mis-Education of the Negro”:

2“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

That schools have set aside a time each year to focus on African-American history is Woodson’s most visible legacy. His determination to further the recognition of the Negro in America and world history has inspired countless scholars. Woodson remained focused on his work throughout his life. Many see him as a man of vision and understanding. Although Woodson was among the ranks of the educated few, he did not feel particularly sentimental about elite educational institutions.

Woodson’s other far-reaching activities included the founding in 1920 of the Associated Publishers, the oldest African-American publishing company in the United States. This enabled publication of books concerning blacks that might not have been supported in the rest of the market. He created the Negro History Bulletin, developed for teachers in elementary and high school grades, and published continuously since 1937. Woodson also influenced the Association’s direction and subsidizing of research in African American history. He wrote numerous articles, monographs and books on Blacks. The Negro in Our History reached its eleventh edition in 1966, when it had sold more than 90,000 copies.

His friend, Dorothy Posrter Wesley, stated that “Woodson would wrap up his publications, take them to the post office and have dinner at the YMCA.” He would teasingly decline her dinner invitations saying, “No, you are trying to marry me off. I am married to my work”. Woodson’s most cherished ambition, a six-volume Encyclopedia Africana, lay incomplete at his death on April 3, 1950 at the age of 74.

To the many who read my blog know “I believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair”. So I say it’s time to know where you came from to know where you’re going, if we are ever going to ever get there. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

MEDIA KIT


No Conditions – A Novel

About The Book

No ConditionsO.C. Byrd is hard-working, handsome and newly married to the woman of his prayers. With his sights firmly set on becoming a Gospel recording artist, his determination is beginning to pay off, earning him a windstorm of recognition at the local level.

But will both his widespread notoriety and his marriage be jeopardized through the accidental discovery of his wife’s former lifestyle?

About The Author

head shotDr. Congress is a Best-Selling, Award-Winning Wordsmith, Literary Advisor, Publisher and creator of C.H.O.C. Lit™ Flavored Books (Christians Having Ordinary Challenges).

She holds a BA in Human Relations, Masters in Theology, Doctor of Ministry degree in Christian Counseling and is a Certified Christian Life Coach.

Sneak Peak

Chapter Ten

“Okay, let’s hit that once more from the top,” directed one very perfection-driven recording engineer. Enoch “Z-man” Zimmerman is, by far, the most on-point dude I know; nothing gets by him—musically speaking—and if his name is attached to it, so is excellence. If I hadn’t known this about him beforehand, I would’ve ended this session an hour ago. Old dude is dipping into my pockets—deep. But, it’s all good. There’s no price tag on quality or knowing that your creative vision is being birthed and we did cover a lot of ground in these last two days. However, I was trying to come in under a budget since I still have to get updated head shots and that, alone, can cost a mint. Needless to say, the budget needs a budget.

From within the encapsulated sound booth, I quickly prepare myself for a retake by clearing my throat and rolling my head to work out neck and shoulder tension. This is the last track we’re recording, also my favorite, and I can’t risk anything getting in the way of my sound. I’ve reworked the lyrics and rearranged the music to Will Downing’s All About You and in a play on words, I decided to use the working title, All About Him, for my CD. Z-man, who was previously in a zone setting the levels on the control panel, gives me his ‘look,’ the one that says, any minute nowwaiting on you.

Closing my eyes, I ease into the moment by thinking of the unending blessings God has poured into my life, most recently the love and devotion of a woman who loves Him as much as I do. I give Z-man a thumbs up, our non-verbal cue that I’m ready to record. Through my headphones, I hear the music intro and seconds later, Z-man‘s voice comes through in a word, “Rolling.”

Swaying side to side, I’m feeling it and without forethought, I take ownership of the musical moment and sing, “I’m not a perfect man, I do the best I can…”

Inside of four minutes, Z-man shouts, “Perfect!” and just like that we’re done. Demo complete, mission accomplished. Talk about feeling good … man!

Collecting my sheet music from the copy stand, I give the booth the once-over and scan the small space for other belongings I might have overlooked. As if handling a Ming vase, I carefully place the headphones on the overhead hang. Lord knows the last thing I need now is to have Z-man add something else to my currently swollen studio tab.

“You know, O.C., I believe your voice has gotten much stronger. Not at all like when I first recorded you a few years back. You’ve got a more mature sound.”

Beaming with pride, “Man, a lot has gotten stronger and better with me.” I strike an impressive bodybuilder crab pose, careful not to flash the shiny new article of jewelry that now resides on the ring finger of my left land. We both laugh and post up a high-five on it.

“Oh, I know that look. Had it once upon a time myself,” Z-man reflects. “That’s the look of a man who’s found his better half. Congrats again, man. I wish you the best.” His voice fades as though he’s been a casualty of love. And while his wound may still be fresh, he is no love reject; he’s recovering from the death of his wife earlier this year.

“Thanks, Z,” I respond. Placing a sympathetic hand on his shoulder which serves as a point of contact as well, I whisper a brief prayer for his healing. “That means a lot, man.”

“I miss her, O.C.” his voice slightly cracking, “I miss her a lot.” Z-man’s body slowly slumps in his chair, his eyes misting despite his best efforts to blink back the tears.

Identifying with his pain in the presence of my own joy is a real challenge, but I do my best to console him anyway.

“You and Maggie…watching the two of you was…was…well, inspiring. Y’all were so in sync. I’ve never seen anything like it except for my Mom and Pops, of course.” Although I did my best to encourage Z-man, Goddess is the pro at this kind of thing since she deals with death and sorrow every day for a living.

I watch as a nostalgic smile sweeps across Z-man’s face. I must’ve said something right. Unfolding his grief-tormented body, he sits straight up and releases a fraction of his pain through a loud exhale, “Remember this…if this were your last day on earth, what would you look at more closely, more intensely? What would you appreciate? What would you want to savor? What would really be important to you?” He pauses and appears to be thinking about his next words.

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