Emoting in R & B

There is a song for every thought, every sentiment, every feeling.

Of this I am absolutely convinced.

I am not unique in that view. So is my friend Philip and so we found last night is Colman Domingo. Who is Colman Domingo you ask? Only a one man tour-de-force that swept North London up in warm Philly soul winds and reminiscences even though it was miserable outside. His story is West Philly. Mine is South Jamaica. And my friend hails from the east of the island. But in 90 minutes last night he proved that as much as we may think it “You are not alone“. And just As an aside Michael you didn’t convince anyone with that quickie marriage there but we will still be loving you always. We, all of us had that radio station that played those songs. There was always a quiet storm happening on some FM station somewhere in the diaspora.

It is the story of the universality of music; not of taste that is crucial here. The music you heard never leaves you. That’s why today my collection comfortably houses Sarah Vaughan, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Anita Baker, Air Supply, Kenny Rogers and Sweet Mother Aretha who came for our sins. We didn’t always have a t.v. but we always had a radio. And that was the first and only request I ever made of my aunt who lived in “foreign”. Virginia in the United States was very foreign then. In response to my carefully worded, best penned entreaty a black Magnovox single cassette recording AM/FM radio found its way to our house wrapped in the safe packing material of a brown cardboard box with my name written in black felt tip marker on the front.

It looked a lot like this.

It looked a lot like this.

What?!!! I slept with that radio. I cradled it at night. I recorded from every top 40 show each weekend and every New Year’s chronicling of the previous year’s top 100. My cramped finger poised above the pause button to filter that blasted station i.d., that commercial or the host’s needless pontification. If you were lucky there was just enough time to rewind during the commercial break then stop the tape at the right section so you could edit over the unwelcome intrusion and not miss the next song. Jody Watley, U2, Alannah Myles, Klymaxx, Anita Baker, Gregory Abott, P.M. Dawn, George Michael, everybody was on a tape. I am sure they are in a box somewhere at my mother’s house. I can’t throw music away. I never could. And just so you know I will make a mixed CD at the drop of a hat. Colman your sister Avery knows what she is doing.

In his one hander A Boy and His Soul, Colman Domingo takes you into the heart of music and into his own heart so you can see the pain and the healing in both. Music much more than books taught us about being women and men. With music in your life you are never alone and you were never poor. We all lived together in one room during a part of my childhood but I can still see my mother dressed up with her Donna Summer LP in her hand. She was going to the concert. It was the Wanderer.

I mean who does sexy like laDonna?

I mean who does sexy like laDonna?

Now I go to live shows. I would much rather see a show than have dinner. I like to see the stage with the instruments waiting for the magic to start. And when the singer gets going I go with them, to whichever place they have created for us and them. It is a shared experience. They give and we give back, in strangled pitch that cannot get anywhere near Jill Scott’s arias or repressed moans that don’t want to disturb Cassandra Wilson when she is channelling spirits. We save our yells for arena rock. When Air Supply is shocked into stunned silence and unable to hear themselves through their earpieces because 35,000 Jamaicans are roaring the words to Making Love Out of Nothing At All.

But there is more. Music holds your dreams and like the Donny Hathaway signature piece he used to close the evening, he exhorts us to  let them rise up to the sky. Our mothers and music created that world for us. A world where we were limitless possibility. And what Colman shows is that a mother’s love is also universal.

There is no place in the world we cannot go now.

There is no place in the world we cannot go now.

4 Responses to “Emoting in R & B”
  1. Patch says:

    I have a very distinct memory of enduring the pain of you singing along with Kenny Rogers as he belted out “Lucille” at Cinnamon Hill many years ago….lol!

    • That’s right! Lucille was trifling and me and Kenny needed to sang about it. Sorry I never catch sweet mother of R&b Anita Baker down there with you. That is when you would have heard struggling. Thanks for reading P.

      • Patch says:

        LOL! I’m afraid i was a right embarrassment to all wot know me when Anita took the stage….a colleague of mine was about ready to disown me. But is far me and Anita coming from. From when she was prancing around a room of candles, singing “sweet love”. You know I have been to see her in Barbados, St. Lucia and Jamaica, right…? Yes. There are issues….and I stalk…err…follow her on Twitter. And she spoke to me!! Me!!! *breathes and takes meds*.

      • I know baby. Anita has secrets for us all. And just so you know we love ’em all but dem no more dan we. If Anita knew how amazing you were she would be FOLLOWING you too. Make yourself known to her. I guess the only thing I can say is singing and taking people to orgiastic heights with instruments and voices is way more sexier than drafting wills and advising on anton piller orders. But we are necessary too!!!

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