Thursday, February 14, 2013

Until The End of Time

The year is 2013. The month is February. Although we have advanced in many ways as a species, it would appear that since the beginning of recorded herstory, women worldwide have been discriminated against, faced harassment and endured unbelievable forms of violence against them.

It is evident in the bible and other holy books, laws established and cultures of all societies that violence against women is a part of the fabric of life. Understand that such violence extends to girls as well and it is gender specific.

This violence at times has not been questioned. As a matter of fact, in some cases, females are expected to submit or participate in their own violation.

The movement to end violence against women and define this gender violence as a human rights violation is recent. It has been taking shape over the past 41 years, building awareness among women and resistance by women, as well as by some men.

When we speak about violence against women worldwide, what are some of the forms it takes?
For centuries violence against women has been an accepted practice. Now there is a movement challenging it. There are organizations providing support to women, groups empowering women to act as survivors rather than victims. Changes in the law are being forced. Women are organizing to have legislation enacted which will provide the types of protections necessary. These human rights violations and gender discrimination cannot, should not, and will not continue until the end of time.

-Nkenge Toure

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sing the Truth - Powerhouse Performance

Just a few weeks ago, three of the Sophie's Parlor Divas experienced the controlled power, elegant grace, and pure joy that is bottled in a concoction called "Sing the Truth:" just over two hours of listening to Dianne Reeves, Angelique Kidjo, and Lizz Wright. They were backed by two more stars of the jazz world, Geri Allen and Teri Lyne Carrington, as well as James Genus, Munyungo Jackson, and Romero Lubambo.  The song list included these and a few more surprises: Bold Soul Sister, Both Sides Now, Heart and Soul, Talkin' about a Revolution, Endangered Species, Easy Rider, Afrika

There are really no words to express the brilliance of the evening, except perhaps "yowza!" From the beginning, as they commanded, strode and wafted onto the stage, respectively, the audience was theirs for the taking. They performed together, in duos and singly, belting out a wide selection of songs in a variety of styles, "honoring the music and spirit of great women of jazz, folk, r&b, gospel and the blues." It was the last night of the tour, unfortunately for you, but it seems that these women will not want to be apart for long. Their friendship and love for one another was palpable.

With all of that what more could be said, but what a blueprint they gave the audience and the rest of the world of music. Women can get along, women do make beautiful music together and most importantly women do Sing The Truth. Stellar, superb, transformative. For all of you I hope the tour will be revived again. - by Helen Viksnins

A clip from Jazz Fest's Sing the Truth

Rene Marie, not to be missed!

For a long time I didn't know who Rene Marie was. I didn't know that she'd been singing all her life. Nor did I know that her career didn't really begin until she left her marriage at the urging of her son. She was 40.

What I did know was that every time I heard a song by her, I liked her more. Learning that she was going to be at the Hamilton last week was a no brainer. The show couldn't have been better. It was a mixture of old and new material, standards and originals. It exemplified the risk taking that has marked her career.

She began the set with raunchy version of the title tune of her latest release, Black Lace Freudian Slip. It got everyone clapping and displayed the talents of her rhythm section Kevin Bale, piano, Elias Bailey, bass and Quentin Baxter on drums. She got the audience singing along to Just My Imagination part of her Imagination Medley.  And she thrilled the audience with her version of Skylark.

The highlights of the evening were two new originals: Blessings, a song inspired by her late brother Claude and This Is Not a Protest Song, which she wrote about homelessness. (It can be purchased on her website and all proceeds go directly to National Coalition for the Homeless.) Both songs showcased her talent as a composer.

She concluded with the patriotic medley from her release Voice of My Beautiful Country. If you wanted to sing along to your grandma's version of America the Beautiful or Lift Every Voice and Sing, you would be disappointed. With new instrumentation, it was possible to hear them in a new way. This portion of the program was highlighted by solos by Quentin Baxter and Kevin Bale.

I can't say enough about the talent of these musicians. Returning for an encore, a song about where the time had gone and the hope that we would all meet again. If you haven't seen her, please do. It's a gift that you can give to yourself. Until you catch her live, here is a video of her below. - By Deb Morris

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