Of Eunice, The “Rain” and Other Things
By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor – in – Chief
PHILADELPHIA (basnnewsroom.com) All of us should never have heard of Nina Simone.
A few weeks ago, that den of dubiousness known as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame presented its Class of 2018.
The odious pats on the back notwithstanding, as the name Nina Simone was added to this year’s list, one gets the feeling these assholes felt as if they were doing her a favor!
That “favor” sits at the tail end of systematic racism; the same kind which killed the soul of potentially the next great American pianist paralleling Van Cliburn, Ms. Eunice Waymon…and gave rise to Nina Simone.
Growing up loving classical music, Eunice Waymon’s desire was to be that pianist; and in being the first Black female to claim such would speak for itself. Sadly, however, Eunice Waymon’s efforts after she told she was not welcome at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music (in spite of her lauded audition and who assisted her in the process), strikes a disconsolate chord which prevails in the desire to denigrate, discourage, diminish and destroy any human dream that may come the way of an artist of color in America…
” I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people. For example, I am Black. I know that. I also know that while I am Black I am a human being, and therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people didn’t know that. Every time I tried to go into a place they stopped me. So some boys had to write a bill to tell that white man, “He’s a human being; don’t stop him.” That bill was for that white man, not for me. I knew it all the time. I knew it all the time.
I knew that I could vote and that that wasn’t a privilege; it was my right. Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or economically deprived. So somebody had to write a bill for white people to tell them, “When a Black man comes to vote, don’t bother him.” That bill, again, was for white people, not for Black people; so that when you talk about open occupancy, I know I can live anyplace I want to live. It is white people across this country who are incapable of allowing me to live where I want to live. You need a civil rights bill, not me. I know I can live where I want to live.
So that the failures to pass a civil rights bill isn’t because of Black Power, isn’t because of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; it’s not because of the rebellions that are occurring in the major cities. It is incapability of whites to deal with their own problems inside their own communities. That is the problem of the failure of the civil rights bill…”
– Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Toure’), 1966
The lesson learned reminiscent of the urging by Black parents to be “twice as good as others” resounded not just from bedrooms and classrooms; it was a societal clarion call to toughen the soul for the pain, blues and agony to come in America’s contempt of some of its most innovative and talented citizens…
Whatever aspirations Eunice Waymon had as a human being died that day in her late teens. She wasn’t the first, nor will she be the last; but the skin she was in guaranteed she would not die a natural death if she remained on American soil.
Some had attempted to criticize Simone as being a “diva” and wannabes like critic Robert Christgau would attempt to deride her talent as being mediocre; but it’s always the most loathsome muthafuckas who are the most limited in producing critique and resenting greatness.
Because of the subjective nature of deciding why someone’s better than someone else, let’s breakdown how one can say something constructive without being destructive.
We can agree that, say, Whitney Houston has a great technical style when she sings; but when I hear Aretha Franklin, Teena Marie or Chaka Khan sing, there is something there that makes me tingle inside – and I never got that from listening to Whitney. No tearing down process…just a case of “diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks.”
The Christgau bullshit where he refers to Simone’s work as “dreck” is a clear example of the toxicity generated by insignificant assholes who wish to use their byline as a bully pulpit; and oft times these are people who never made it because they didn’t have the capacity to try.
I have seen this often in covering sports, but the rank pettiness which seems to emanate from whiny l’il bitches like Christgau exhibit why negotiating your way through the performing arts can be far more disengaging than anything in the politics of the corporate world.
To acknowledge that Waymon was worthy of admission to their fucked – up world two days before she died displays the level of guilt and hypocrisy on the part of the Curtis Institute of Music. You allowed the color of someone’s skin to poison American collective culture; so calling yourself an ‘institute of music’ is a colossal fucking joke.
Long Live The High Priestess Of Soul!
Baby, the “Rain” Must Fall
” I could make you happy…if you believed in me…yeah; I could make you happy – if you just believed in me”
That line, uttered by Clarence Williams III in “Purple Rain” has been something which, admittedly, haunted me as artist; because there are things that sometimes tear at your heart strings while pursuing said artistic endeavor.
Prince was in a world where he had achieved artistic Nirvana; generated income through his talent, was able to live specifically off of it and created a musical catalog of immense size – at his leisure. I’m sure the grandchildren of my grandchildren will be listening to the latest Prince tune 40 years into the future…
However and wherever the journey took him, Prince weathered a storm of his own special brand of “controversy” in standing up for the right to protect his work – at the cost of his life.
It’s Always The Quiet Ones
Byron Allen has weaved his way through media for over two generations; and has done the kind of comedy some would consider mild at best. Allen’s true forte’ however, was conducting business. While having been around television since his teens, Allen quietly and efficiently worked his way up on both sides of the camera.
Allen challenged the powers that be by grinding and operating with a purpose. As Bill Cosby (love him or hate him) went for the big enchilada in attempting to acquire the National Broadcasting Corporation, Allen went about his business, waiting for the opening to snatch up something of value.
After picking his way through the High Definition world of things like Cars TV, Allen recently acquired The Weather Channel – to the tune of $300 million.
In controlling what even society could not, Allen – gets the last laugh; and more power to him.
Always outnumbered…never outgunned.