Sister Odetta Sings

To disabuse any notion that my love for Mahalia leads me to ignore other great female singers, I present to you this rendition of Motherless Child by Odetta. Odetta (why don’t we have such names anymore) was known as the Queen of American Folk music(dubbed so by MLK)  and was instrumental in its revival in the 60’s. While I do have my issues with folk revivalist, as I don’t like much of it and find many times the singers render the remakes in a most unsoulful manner, Odetta’s abilities to  summon the full range of emotion and sing some of the songs as if she was field herself has made me a life long fan.

Great stuff from a good woman.

What I’m Into Vol. 3 Father’s Day Edition

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
2 for I give you good precepts;
do not forsake my teaching.
3 When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.
5 Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Proverbs 4:1–5

We all have fathers who raised us, who imparted their wisdom, their habits, their approach to life onto us. We all have lived according to these values given to us by what should be our greatest influence.
But as we age and become literate we develop our intellectuals ancestors. They might share the same outlook as our fathers and reinforce and provide a source of inspiration and motivation and expand the purview of the morals handed down to you. From that foundation you build your personal outlook.
My intellectual father is the great Martin Delaney, regarded as the father of Black nationalism to many.  From him I further understood the value of self determination & self preservation; building, preserving and supporting your own institutions; along with the value of of blacks starting and supporting our own businesses. So in honor of him, here are somethings of his and some stuff about him that I was reading today.

Here in Martin Delany’s  Advice to Slaves he counters the bombardment of information from a society seeking to paint us as a caste of layabouts without distinction, culture or industry, in a speech which would be radical in any age. Even warning us a full century before Malcolm X classic warning against aligning to close with Liberal whites,  Delany makes the case against their fore bearers.

“As I said before the Yankees are smart; there are good ones and bad ones. The good ones, if they are good they are very good, if they are bad, they are very bad. But the worst and most contemptible, and even worse than even your masters were, are those Yankees, who hired themselves as overseers. Believe not in these School teachers, Emissaries, Ministers, and agents, because they never tell you the truth, and I particularly warn you against those Cotton Agents, who come honey mouthed unto you, their only intent being to make profit by your inexperience.”

He also engaged in the rewriting tunes used in minstral shows to fit a more radical narrative.  In this example he turns Stephan Foster’s Old Uncle Ned on its head.

Fosters version:

Den lay down de shubble and de hoe
Hang up de fiddle and de bow:
No more hard work for poor old Ned
He’s gone whar de good darkeys go

Delany’s (superior) version:

Hang up the shovel and thee hoe-o-o-o!
I don’t care whether I work or no!
Old master’s gone to the slaveholders’ rest
—He’s gone where they all ought to go!

“Summer time and the living is good. Fish are jumping”, this line has always echoed in my head, I sing it randomly without provocation. I still do not know and don’t particularly care why. Today I was listening to Mahalia Jackson’s Summer Time/Motherless Child on repeat, tis the season and its a Beautiful* song. Enjoy it and until my next post I bid you good day.

Kentucky Educator,Poet & Author Joseph Cotter

Joseph Seamon Kotter

This a 1909 poetic ditty by Kentucky educator Joseph Cotter (sometimes considered Black America’s first great poet) criticized the tendency of black “intellectuals” to belittle the economic achievements of the black farmer in contrast to the elites’ own college-bred attainments. He pointed out that many an experienced farmer earned a better livelihood than some college graduates. He wrote*:

Dr. Booker T. Washington to the National Negro Business League

’Tis strange indeed to hear us plead
   For selling and for buying
When yesterday we said: “Away
   With all good things but dying.”


The world’s ago, and we’re agog
   To have our first brief inning;
So let’s away through surge and fog
   However slight the winning.


What deeds have sprung from plow and pick!
   What bank-rolls from tomatoes!
No dainty crop of rhetoric
   Can match one of potatoes.

Ye orators of point and pith,
   Who force the world to heed you,
What skeletons you’ll journey with
   Ere it is forced to feed you.

A little gold won’t mar our grace,
   A little ease our glory.
This world’s a better biding place
   When money clinks its story.
*quoted was written by Elizabeth Wright

What Am I Into?

To continue my weekly series of posts where I reserve Sunday to post some of the things I’m into.
I am actually reading two articles as I type that I find very interesting.

Tears of Sadness

Elizabeth Wright was a Black female conservative, in the Booker T. Washington or Zora Neale Hurston mold, who published Issues & Views, it started as a hard copy paper and eventually migrated to the net. Her article Keeping the Spotlight on Failure is just plain great. A real joy to read. Here is its opening:
“It is normal for members of an ethnic group to celebrate the high points in their shared history. The victories over natural and man made catastrophes are held up as proof of the specialness of their heritage. Black Americans, however, are encouraged to remain fixated on the dreariest aspects of our past. Observe the typical museum exhibition or photography display devoted to black history, and you are likely to find depictions of slaves in torment, or photos of gory lynchings or smoldering ash aftermaths of Klan raids. If, now and then, an uplifting image does slip through, it usually has been inserted only to highlight some ensuing tragedy or “injustice.” When it comes to blacks, one usually gets to see only the ruination, not the rebuilding, the deterioration, not the renewal.”

The Troops?

Down in Jamaica, the Gleaner reports that Senior Rastafarian says no to repealing Buggery Law  & We have the numbers’ – Church leaders confident enough religious Jamaicans in island to prevent change to buggery laws. I’m not sure how effective I trust Buggery Laws to be nor am I’m convinced they should exist. But it is nice to see a largely Black nation resist the dictates of the West and its desire to change everyone’s cultural and moral codes to fit theirs. Real diversity would  recognize that a different cultures and peoples value different lifestyles, among other things, they aren’t merely places to try different foods.

Of course I listened to some old school gospel today, more effective of them being , Mary Don’t You Weep by Aretha Franklin.