music · words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Nina Simone

It’s a new dawn/ It’s a new day/ It’s a new life/ For me/ And I’m feeling good – Nina Simone

Happy Friday friends!  I hope that you all have had a stress-free and enjoyable week. I’m looking forward to this weekend, despite  a forecast indicating snow showers to strike in the Mid-Atlantic region. I’m no fan of the cold, but it’ll be nice to stay in and watch the snowfall.

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The Words of Wisdom today will be coming from none other than Eunice Kathleen Waymon, better known as the incomparable Nina Simone. Her music, that she described as black classical music, is full of passion, wisdom, pain, and love.

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I first became acquainted with Simone’s music in 2010. I was encouraged to listen to her after an acquaintance noted that I dressed (at that time) similarly to Simone. With my naturally curly-kinky hair, brown skin, and penchant for African inspired fashions, I probably looked a lot  more like Simone than I do currently. I purchased the digital version of The Lady has the Blues to acquaint myself with her work. I found myself drawn into Simone’s incredible piano playing ability, but I stayed for her soulful lyrics.

The album that started my love of Ms. Simone

I researched Simone’s history to learn more about the woman behind these poignant songs. What I learned about her was heartbreaking. Simone was denied admission to the musical program that she dreamed of attending. She had unhappy romantic relationships, which were likely complicated by her own mental health issues (she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder). While critically-acclaimed and publicly loved, she suffered indescribable pain behind closed doors. This pain is what we bear witness to when listening to her music.

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But, despite the painful lyrics, there is a lot of beauty in Simone’s work. More importantly, she left a legacy of activism through her art. She actively sought to achieve her own personal peace while on Earth (which is more than most people can say). Relocating abroad, away from a country that had scarred her with its racism and bigotry, was critical for her self care. She passed while living in France at the age of 70. May she continue to rest in peace. And may we all enjoy her impressive ouevre and learn from her life. The world didn’t deserve Nina Simone, but I’m glad that she lived her life unapologetically and left such an amazing example for us today.

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That’s all for this week loves. I hope that you all have a cozy and comfortable weekend and I will talk to you all on Monday. Take care!

(Photos courtesy of AZ Quotes, For Harriet, Women’s Tea Time, and Pinterest)

music

An Evening with Tamia

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to Charleston to visit with one of my girlfriends and to attend a concert. The artist performing was Tamia, one of my favorites from way, way back.

Tamia’s recent tour was inspirational to me because I know she had been battling health issues over the past several years. Hearing that she was touring and performing again gave me hope that she may be feeling better nowadays. And, from what I saw, it appears that she is doing well and positively THRIVING!

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Tamia’s most recent LP, Passion Like Fire

She sounds fantastic and put on a great show. She performed at The Music Farm, a performing arts venue that was conveniently located in downtown Charleston. The acoustics, the crowd, and the location all worked together to create a perfect evening. I had a great time!

Her newest album, Passion Like Fire, is currently available for purchase. I love her first single, “Leave It Smokin'”. Tamia is looking great and sounding even better. Enjoy this latest single, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

international · music

New Alice Francis Music!

You all recall that last year, I mentioned my love for singer Alice Francis. This vintage-inspired songbird is still a fave, though I hadn’t been checking her YouTube page regularly. I just hadn’t had her on my mind recently.

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Still from Francis’s “Gangsterlove” video

However, I checked out her Youtube a few weeks ago and found she had released several songs in the past few months. My current fave is “Coco Baca Bum Bum”. The Cuban backdrop and vintage fashions are everything! And the song is super-cute, too.

Why don’t you take a listen and let me know what you think? I’ll be back tomorrow!

music · travel

All About Auntie Janet (Jackson)

Happy Wednesday, friends! I’m enjoying a delightful flashback, all the way back to last month. On my birthday, I saw Janet Jackson perform live in Raleigh, NC and I had the time of my life! This concert was part of her State of the World tour, and she did not disappoint!

The event was held at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek. The weather was perfect – no rain! – and the staff was professional, courteous and oh-so-helpful. Let me tell you all: Janet has STILL got “IT”! She looked great, she sounded great, and the entire concert experience was excellent.

Janet performed a lot of her hits and she has plenty of them to choose from (she’s been performing for over 30 years!) My favorite song is “Runaway” and yes, she performed it and even did some of the dance moves. I had such a ball singing and dancing along: I’d see her again in a heartbeat.

Oh, you know I made sure to film a bit of the concert for you, too. I added it to my YouTube channel but I’m also linking it here. Enjoy!

 

life curation · music

Dads Matter

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Happy Sunday, everyone! Today is Father’s Day in the United States, and I’m fortunate to have experienced the love of two fathers: my biological dad and my stepdad. Instead of saying to you, ‘Go love on your dad”, I want to share what both of the fathers in my life meant to me.

My biological dad and I haven’t always been close, though there’s always been a lot of love between us. He is a better parent of adults than young children, and I can respect and enjoy that: after all, I’ll spend more of my life as an adult than I did as a child! He and my mom had a tense relationship for many years, and now I’m glad to say that they have grown to the point of having a friendship. It took a lot of years, but I love that there is no animosity between them. They married in the 1970s, so I often associate them with Earth, Wind and Fire. Here’s a song that I imagine that they may have danced to while they were dating.

My stepdad passed in 2012, and I’ll cherish the last conversation I had with him. He was very ill – in hospice care – and when I asked how he was feeling, he simply said, “I’m not doing too well, but I’m okay. How are you?” It still breaks my heart to think that he wanted to know how I was doing while he was slowly slipping away from us. I’ll also think fondly of how we would occasionally sneak out and get milkshakes from McDonald’s and chili cheese hot dogs from 7 Eleven (this was before I started eating healthier!) One of the last times we hung out, he said he was craving a milkshake, so we made a special stop just to soothe his craving. I miss him every day, but I’m happy that he left me some awesome memories. Here’s a song that he absolutely loved: I still can’t listen to it all the way through without breaking down into tears.

Those are a couple of my Father’s Day memories. Do you all have any memories of your father/father figures that you want to share? Please post them in comments below: I’d love to read them.

music

Learn More About Opera

I’ve got another FutureLearn course for you all to check out! Several years back, I took a Introduction to Classical Music course on Coursera, and I’ve desired more opportunities to learn about classical music ever since. However, there haven’t been too many courses that fit the bill, until I saw the “Inside Opera” course available on FutureLearn.

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The course will dive into defining opera, discussing the onstage and backstage activities, and how it factors into the world around us.

This opera course starts June 4. I hope that you take some time to check it out!

culture · international · music

A Little Something for International Dance Day

Happy Sunday friends! It’s been a while since I posted videos about music or dance, so it’s only fitting that I share something with you all for International Dance Day!

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I’m adding some videos demonstrating traditional African dances from several countries. I’ve discussed kizomba before, but Africa is a tremendously diverse continent and every country has something different to offer when it comes to dance. Here’s just a taste of African dance:

Angolan Kizomba and Semba: this mashup of clips gives you a glimpse into traditional Angolan dance. Fun, exuberant and flirty: what’s not to love?

Ethiopian/Eritrean Eskista: I don’t know what I love most about this video – the gorgeous hair, the joyful expressions or the fact that this reminds me of something that my friends and I would do when we get together. They’re not professionals, but they’re having fun!

Burundian/Rwandan Umushagiriro/Umushayayo: this is so graceful and elegant. I want to learn the dance and wear the traditional outfits daily. This dance is breathtakingly beautiful.

And just for fun, Ivorian Zaouli: this dance has been made into countless memes, but the truth is, it takes a LOT of stamina to do this. Enjoy!

What is your favorite international dance? Let me know in the comments below!