June is Black Music Month: Michael Jackson

June has been designated Black Music Appreciation Month. I think with all the sampling out there we should take the time to honor our musical ancestors. The first artist I wanted to celebrate is Michael Jackson.

When he did the Motown special he was already a legend in the making. He started out with the Jackson 5 that became the Jacksons. Michael was a powerful musical entity that could write, sing, dance, produce and create. He showcased the moonwalk and the crowd went wild.

Michale Jackson's Thriller album cover

Michael Jackson’s Thriller was truly a phenomenon. It broke all kinds of music records and is still a classic more than 25 years later.

I loved Michael as a kid. He was the first African-American artist featured on MTV. The music channel started in the early eighties but many of my favorite artist were never featured there. Micaheal’s album Thriller broke so many barriers and crossing the color line at MTV was one of them. Michael treated his videos like mini films.

When he made the video for Thriller he hired a movie director to make a mini-horror flick for about 1 million dollars. It instantly became a hit. The Making of Thriller (the forefather of reality television in my humble opinion) gave us all the behind the scenes tidbits that went into making the video.

Everybody is making a behind the scenes videos but Michael was the first artist to share in this way. This speaks volumes to his generous heart. Michael may be gone physically but his spirit lives on in his music. He never forgot his musical roots.

Michael Jackson is my favorite dancer. He truly was an artist and his music uplifted people. I was never embarassed to play his songs. I hope Michael is getting the respect and credit he deserved now because he had a lot of pain in his life. I salute you musical legends.

In my upcoming posts I will be talking about James Brown, Bojangles, The Nicholas Brothers and Sammy Davis Junior.

Whitney Houston “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

One of my favorite Whitney Houston video is “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. RIP Ms. Houston 1963-2012

Color blind: The life of Teena Marie

Teena Marie and her daughter Alia Rose

Most of you have heard that Ivory Queen of Soul Teena Marie passed away yesterday. I loved her music and what she represented. Teena believed that people should be evaluated by what was in their hearts and not by how they looked. She was a white singer that sang soul music. She was a believer in Jesus and mentioned her love for God in interviews.

A good friend of mine Saideh Brown who is Impact Speakers Burreau did an interview with Teena that you can listen to here. Teena was in a happy place during the interview. She quoted scripture and sang a hymn. She gave credit for a beautiful voice as a gift from God that she was charged to share with the world. She mentioned working on an inspirational album that I hope we all get to hear. I thought about that as I read her obituary.

This woman was not ashamed to proclaim the word of Jesus. She was able to look deep in the soul instead of being caught up in color and outward appearances. At one point during the interview she illustrated forgiveness. She talked about growing up in a rough neighborhood in California. She had started high school and a Black female student slapped her in the face. She was able to get past that incidence and the two girls became friends.

I love hearing about people’s experience with God who are not necessarily ministers or evangelists. I often find their experience more honest and pure. I was encouraged by Teena because I felt that God used this woman to be a bridge. She didn’t let the negativity of things that happened to her stop her from reaching out to all people.

Teena was only 54 when she died. She was young but God called her home. She leaves behind to mourn her death her beautiful daughter Alia Rose (stage name Rose LeBeaf) also a singer.

None of us knows how or when we will die. It is my hope that I will be proclaiming the love of Jesus to people and still reading his word. God used Teena as an instrument to show us that we should be colorblind in the body.

God doesn’t look at the outside he looks at the heart. [I Samuel 16:7 is the scripture that God admonishes Samuel the priest of how He looks at people.] I strive everyday to do this. I thank you Teena for helping me to understand that we should connect by looking at the heart and not the skin.