In the middle of my time in Lisboa, I got to attend the Rock in Rio Lisboa concert. The event was held at Parque da Bela Vista on June 25th. This major music festival featured Bush, A-ha, UB40, and Duran Duran, along with numerous other artists from around the world (including the one and only Ney Matogrosso).
It. Was. AWESOME!
I wish I could have taken you all there with me. But, then again, given the size of the festival, maybe you were there 🙂 Here are some of the pics from the event. Enjoy!
During one of my many jaunts down the Google rabbit hole, I found myself in 1930s-40s-50s Black American music history. I always love looking at the style of clothing, listening to the recordings of the artists, and finding out some of the fascinating backstory that led to their rises to fame and, many times, their untimely and tragic demises.
Every now and then, I find myself in an interesting corner of Black American history. One such corner is the part of history that contains the legacies of LGBTQIA+. In this corner is where I found Gladys Bentley, lesbian icon, trailblazer, and unapologetic star.
Prior to this year, I was completely unfamiliar with Ms. Bentley’s story. However, when I read about her, I made sure to jot her name down so I could write about her when I had the chance. I’m fortunate to be able to discuss her life and legacy now. When I saw a photo of her, I was immediately struck by her impeccably tailored white suit (at least, I think it was a white suit: the photo was in Black and white, after all), her matching cane, and a white top hat worn at a jaunty angle. Everything about her screamed stylish and confident star.
But it was her story that made me want to both cheer and weep. Ms. Bentley was a cross-dressing star during the Harlem Renaissance, a period of time that embrace the avant garde and brilliant creative endeavors of Black performers. During this time, she thrived due to the novelty of her act, but her talent is what kept people hooked on Gladys. She could sing well, play piano, and work a crowd like no other. Her song selections were risque and fit the vibe of the smoky speakeasies where she performed. She didn’t try to pass as a man: she made no attempt to hide her full bust or wide hips. She achieved major success for several years, and she lived luxuriously during this time.
Sadly, her story had a heartbreaking beginning and a tragic end. Ms. Bentley was initially rejected at birth by her mother, who wanted a son. While her mother eventually started to care for her a few months after her birth, the trauma (and, no doubt, toxic messaging that was doled out over time) lingered and was what she believed was the root cause of her sexual orientation. Years later, as her career declined, she tried to live as a heterosexual woman, marrying and divorcing twice. She eventually died at the age of 52 from pneumonia. She claimed to have been “cured” of her homosexuality, with her cure curiously coinciding with the McCarthy Era. This is just my humble opinion, but I suspect that the claim of a “cure” was probably Ms. Bentley’s way of protecting herself from additional harassment and potential abuse. But that’s just a speculation.
I had a chance to check out some of her discography, and I enjoyed listening to Ms. Bentley’s full, resonant voice. Anyone that has listened to recordings from the first half of the 1900s knows how difficult it is to enjoy some of the songs. The recording quality, as well as the style of singing preferred by the public, is quite different from the music preferences of the past 30 years or so. That being said, I found that her voice was closer to being “timeless” than some other artists of that period. If any of her original records could be digitally enhanced, I’m sure that many of her songs would have experience a revival of sorts, becoming popular with a new generation, nearly 100 years after she first sang them.
I wish Gladys Bentley was more well-known today, and I sincerely hope that this post, though simple, honors her memory. Instead of focusing on the tragedy that she experienced, I will share the gift of her music with you all. Here is a YouTube video of one of her songs. Enjoy.
Happy Monday! I’m enjoying the rising temperatures in central VA and I’m feeling oh-so-thankful that SUMMER is here!
I wanted to discuss something more fun today: music! I’ve been listening to a few artists that I haven’t mentioned on this blog before, but I’m excited to share them with you now. If you aren’t familiar with these artists, you can check out their music by clicking on the YouTube videos I’m linking below. Enjoy!
Chloe X Halle have been making incredible music for years, but their newest album is such an auditory delight: I had to share it with you all!
Doja Cat has been in the center of a few online controversies, so I was torn about adding her. However, her song “Say So” is so good that I have to share it, not to mention, she has actively sought to uplift ALL women. I haven’t canceled her yet, and I doubt that I ever will.
Missy Elliott has been one of my favorites for AGES, so her music over the past few years has been such a treat. I adore her!
Teyana Taylor had not been on my radar previously, but this song is so wholesome, uplifting and beautiful that I had to include it.
Those are a few of the songs that I’ve been enjoying lately. Do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear all about them!
I’m taking a break from “Fibro Friday” (I’ll be back with FF next week) to share some exciting news. One of the most heartbreaking things that has happened since the emergence of COVID-19 is seeing Broadway go dark. While I don’t intend to minimize the tragic loss of life during this time, I was still saddened to see the live theater tradition halted in NYC.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!