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Entries in Arts & Culture (7)


Happy 40th Soul Train

It is Saturday morning, and I know many of my fellow Americans, of a certain age, regardless of race, share the same memory of Saturday morning cartoons and the show that marked the end of those cartoons. Soul Train. Born in Chicago in August of 1970 and later syndicated in 1971, Soul Train soon laid its tracks down across the country becoming known as the hippest trip in America” (does that line always come out in Don Cornelius’ voice in your head too?). Although the last original episode was broadcast in 2006, we can still take a ride on the Soul Train courtesy of YouTube and Centric. As always, we wish you love, peace, and SOUL! 



Prince Rogers Nelson

Very few people have the courage to be who they were meant to be, connecting to the universal being (you may call it God), maxing out their potential and shining a light so bright it can be hard to look at them, although it is equally difficult to look away. These people truly are stars. The word is thrown around so easily these days to describe merely famous people but on June 7, 1958 a true star was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His name is Prince Rogers Nelson. I’m not sure how he walks the earth without exploding, his creative genius is so powerful. In truth, I find my grasp of human language inadequate to describe Prince’s impact on the world. He is being who he was born to be and it is a beautiful thing to behold. Happy birthday Prince!


Ear Candy for the Soul

I love music’s mongrel itinerant nature. It travels around the world, waking beats long forgotten and interpolating new and ancient melodies over and over again, ever changing and evolving. To me, “Pa la Escuela Nene” (Geko Jones vs. Frikstailers) featuring Maria Mulata, is exemplary of this aspect of music. In it, Puerto Rican/Colombian DJ Geko Jones blends bullerengue, a folk music that originated in Maroon (runaway slave) communities on Colombia’s Atlantic coast, with modern beats. NPR’s Jasmine Garsd, co-host of the NPR podcast Alt. Latino describes Jones’s style well. “I like to think of him as playing your grandma’s music, but at a volume and with a bass that would have your grandma yelling at you to turn that ruckus off.” Enjoy.

  Maria Mulata- Pa la Escuela Nene (Geko Jones vs Frikstailers) by gekojones


Gil Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949-May 27, 2011), A Remembrance

I am unabashedly a child of 1970s New York City, my life rooted in Spanish Harlem and the South Bronx. 70s chic (platforms, bells, headwraps) continues to inform my aesthetic today. 70s music (disco, funk, jazz) is like home to me. By the time I entered college in the late 80s, I had developed literary tastes for black revolutionary poets who wrote about beautiful black people struggling to be free.

While in college I hosted a weekly jazz show called the Blues Note on our alternative radio station. After a more senior dj once told me that a song he'd heard me play was not as alternative as it could be (I was pretty certain he was wrong), I took to playing Gil Scott-Heron's "Liberation Song (Red, Black, and Green)" as my sign off. Scott-Heron's gravelly, yet steady rocking voice, Brian Jackson's flute, and the Midnight Band's rhythm section scored for me, an alternative, groovy, revolutionary art practice, as resonate in the early 90s and now the 2010s, as it was in 1975. 



Plan to Board the Mothership in 2015


The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), a Smithsonian museum slated to open in 2015 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., has announced its acquisition of Parliament Funkadelic's iconic Mothership, which will become a part of the museum's permanent music collection and exhibition. Though the original was destroyed, the museum's reproduction toured for many years with Parliament. Considering that he and his staff are building from the ground up, Director Lonnie Bunch continues to make interesting choices for the museum's permanent collection. There are dozens of African American museums telling parts of the story of the African American past. NMAAHC has the thrilling opportunity to tell a grand narrative that explores all the stories that can be told. Making it funky is the cherry on top.