#Saxthem

It’s the NFC Championship game on the 22nd Jan 2017 between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers. As traditional before a sporting event in the US, the national anthem was performed. This was a special one with saxophonist Mike Phillips stealing the show before the opening kickoff. 0
Hear how he uses the blues scale at 0:44 add a different ‘flavour’ to the anthem. He doesn’t play the anthem in strict time but instead emphasises different parts of the melody (0:37 for example) by adding extra notes and using particular saxophone techniques. He builds the anthem at 1:06 and uses a technique called circular breathing to extended the note on the word ‘free’. One of the reasons Mike Phillips’ version is so special is because you can hear that this is his clear interpretation of it. He isn’t trying to copy anyone else. He’s played with the late great Prince,  Stevie Wonder and countless other superstars but always retains his unique sound and energy.
National anthems, hymns or other songs with deep meaning do not have to be played in a solemn or sombre way. By watching this video and others like it, children can begin to understand that any song can be interpreted by a performer in any way, and like Mike Phillips demonstrated, if you can do this well, people will remember it forever.

Go Falcons!!

Reblogged from www.nateholdermusic.com

 

Guys talk to your women!

communication-questions-relationshipI’m the kind of guy who will think and think rather than verbalise what’s on my mind. That’s just how I deal with things. I go over and over situations in my mind, and try to figure out the best way to approach someone, deal with my own emotions or just ponder a decision. On reflection, I’m probably just like most men. Where many women may be quick to Whatsapp a friend or call their mum, us men have the tendency to shy away from any interaction which may lead into a potentially long conversation. I can’t be bothered to talk. I can rationalise my own behaviour and put things into perspective on my own. Ask me if everything is ok and I won’t go into too much detail, if any at all. It’s being dealt with. Football is on.

What happens then? Because women are so perceptive, they can often pick up on slight changes of mood or off behaviour even before us men realise that we are acting differently! Our silence is almost tacet approval to allow your women to over analyse the situation and believe that the reason why you aren’t talking is because of something they did or said. Is he cheating on me? Am I pretty enough? Does he want to be with me anymore? Those questions may sound totally irrational but those thoughts can go through women’s minds on the slightest hint of indifference. Even women know these thoughts are often silly, but they happen; they just never tell you.

Before getting into a relationship, many men just deal with things on our own. We don’t generally talk to our boys about absent fathers or how we worry about our job or lack thereof. If we are in a relationship then we really need to. Not because a problem shared is a problem halved, or because talking about problems is the best way to solve them. We just need to talk more because of her.

Your girlfriend, fiancée or wife needs you to tell her whats happening. Not so that she can solve your problems, but because you care about her, and you don’t want her feeling shut out. She may not have any words or solutions, and honestly, sometimes even a hug from her may not make you feel better in that moment. But the truth is, she will feel better and less insecure. And making your woman feel secure, should be enough reason to open up and let her in. Even if you don’t want to talk right then and there, giving her an overview and telling her you don’t want to talk is invaluable to her.

If we can open up and talk to our better halves in the middle of our anger, depression or frustration and be present for her, we put her feminine nature of communication over our own masculine nature of isolation. You may be surprised how you feel and how she responds when she asks you, “How was your day” and you reply, “You know what babe, I feel…”

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Pops Is Still Hot After All These Years

Good Music Speaks

another young louisA couple of months ago, I wrote a bit about the recordings of the delta bluesman, Robert Johnson.    The mere 42 tracks left by Johnson at the time of his death are some of the most influential music ever recorded.  That thought got me thinking about what other recordings have had a giant influence in the world of music.  The first thing that came to mind was the legendary recordings of Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five and Hot Seven.  If you have ever played a jazz solo, or picked up a trumpet, or sang a popular song, you owe a debt of gratitude to Louis Armstrong.

Hot five photoNicknamed “Satchmo” or “Pops”, Louis Armstrong followed Joe “King” Oliver from New Orleans to Chicago and played in Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band.  Armstrong followed the advice of his second wife, piano player Lil Hardin Armstrong, and broke away from Oliver to…

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I Can’t Breathe

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Scrolling through my TeamStream feed this morning catching up on the weekends sport, I came across the headline ‘Giants, Yankees Step Up for Fallen NYPD Officer’. The article went on to say that the NY Yankees will be paying for the education of  murdered NYPD officer Rafael Ramos’ sons, and that the New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, wore ‘a black strip on his left arm + a peace sign under the NY on his shirt in honor of slain NYPD officers’. While these gestures will in no way make up for the loss of life, they do show that sports teams are truly supportive to victims of heinous acts like murder, brutality and domestic violence. Or are they?

After the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, many basketball and football players joined in the public outrage and showed their support of the fallen men. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Kevin Garnett and others wore the last words of Eric Garner emblazoned across their chests ‘I Can’t Breathe’.

LeBron James

What happened? The NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that although he respected the players’ stance, he would prefer the players to ‘abide by our on court attire rules’. He might as well have said ‘Yeah do it, it’s good that you have those views. But post it on your Instagram or Twitter. Don’t do it on the NBAs time. We have a brand to protect. Now drink your Gatorade and make sure the cameras see’. Images Tommie Smith and John Carlos come to mind.

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5 members of the St.Louis Rams including wideouts Tayvon Austin, Kenny Britt and Jared Cook, came out of the tunnel before kick-off, and made the ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ gesture in reference to the killing of Michael Brown. What did Missouri Police labelled the gesture as ‘tasteless, offensive and inflammatory’, also calling for the players to be disciplined. Disciplined?? These are grown men! No sorry… they used to call us ‘boys’. Almost forgot…

ADDITION Raiders Rams Football

And now 2 officers are murdered in New York, and sports teams are first on the scene to offer support.

So it’s not about looking after those affected by murder is it?

The police officers were killed in cold blood. They just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Paying for the education of the Rafael Ramos’ children is a wonderful gesture (Wenjian Liu had no children) and we all wish we saw more acts of benevolence like that in this world. Eric Garner was killed with the use of an illegal choke hold. He was the father of 6 children and 3 grandchildren. The Yankees, the Mets, the Jets, the Giants, the Nets, the Knicks, the Rangers and the Islanders are all professional sports teams in New York. No money. No apology. Don’t show any support for him at our games. We have a business to run.

It seems as though there is this undying loyalty shown towards law enforcement, where they can do no wrong in the eyes of America. They are enforce the law, and are above it at the same time. And it’s not even about race! It’s not like these 2 officers were white. But they are part of the police force. Law enforcement. There’s a reason why the word force is used rather than police team or law upholders. It means that the values they hold true, will be upheld by force. So go ahead and protest against what we do. Just know that your sports teams are on our side. Your favorite tv shows are on our side. Politicians are on our side. Speak out against us and we will force you to comply, even if it means death. We’ve got you in a choke hold.

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#icantbreathe

Should we still have Black History Month? Part 2

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Following on from Part 1

The history is predominantly to do with slavery and fighting for civil rights. There is hardly any mention of the kingdoms of Mali and Cush. No mention of the history of Black people throughout the world before slavery apart from Egypt. Considering that we often go into English history to 1066 and beyond, there is rarely any mention of successful Black people before the 1800’s.
It should come as no surprise as there is only a particular part of British (or English) history taught anyway. Triumphs in war and the Industrial Revolution are taught rather than the horrors of the Crusades, wars in Ireland and the colonisation of India. In short, we don’t learn about anything negative in British history. And if slavery is brought up, it’s framed as ‘history’, rather than a series of events which influence how we live today. We learn about how the Industrial Revolution affected us directly, but as for slavery – everything is ok now. Look, there’s a Black President! What about Sir Trevor McDonald?!

In the clammer for equality and integration, it seems as though Black people want their history to be recognised as just as important as British history. All of the arguments for an integrated Black history range from examples of the contributions to history, to the social influence that Black people have had. Could it be that that notion in itself is actually quite selfish? If it is really true equality we are after, what about an Asian history month or even integrating Asian history into education?
There are over twice as many Asians in the UK as Black people, as they make up 7.8% of the population of Britain. Large parts of India were effectively ruled by the East India Company, and the British took direct control of India in 1858. There was a genocide before the Partition of India in 1947 which killed between 200,000-500,000 people, and displaced almost 14 million people. Prior to this, the region had one of the richest and advanced cultures in the world, with some of the oldest sacred texts in the world (the Vedas) found there. Asians don’t even get a week. Maybe there are more similarities to Asian and Black history than we realise. For example, the fact that the Caribbean is known as the WEST Indies, and India is part of the EAST Indies, shows that the names were given by Europeans, who produced the maps we use today. Notice how the most used maps have Europe at the center? I digress…

Of course there are so many positives to having a Black History Month, and if it was absorbed into mainstream history, perhaps the many debates, discussions and events could die out too. Should Black people stop arguing about integrating their history into this society and focus energies on setting up centers which teach this history to children and people who are interested? There are so many people researching into the history we aren’t told about, and so much more is out there to be discovered. If Black history is integrated or not, what shouldn’t stop is the quest for knowledge and the truth. The schooling system will never give you all you need to know. I mean, there should be more lobbying for things like mortgages, growing your own food, nutrition and money management to be taught in schools? Media analysis: why is Islam always mentioned when someone who happens to be a Muslim commits a crime, but there are never headlines about the Christian male who raped and killed, with pictures of him proudly displaying a cross tattooed onto his arm?

Ok I’m going so far off topic now.

Let’s stop waiting for information to come to us, and let’s go and get it, regardless of the time of year.

Make Black History every day, I don’t need a month – Kanye West

Should we still have Black History Month? Part 1

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With many thanks to Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, since 1987, the UK has been celebrating BHM in the month of October. Schools up and down the country usually put up displays and encourage students to do a piece of writing, usually focusing on Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, or others of that ilk. Should BHM continue to be as it is, or should it be, as many would like it to be, integrated into average history lessons and curricula?

Currently in most schools, history lessons focus on a certain selections of history. We in England learn about the Tudors, the Victorians, the two World Wars, how the Allies triumphed, and how the Holocaust was one of the worst events in history. We even learn bits about the French Revolution and the Middle Ages including the Black Death and the Magna Carta. Sure there have been Black people living in Britain for hundreds of years, they played a part in the two World Wars and struggled for equality, but is that any reason to introduce more Black History? Isn’t one month enough?

At the end of the day, England is a White Protestant country. Don’t let Stratford Westfield or Peckham fool you, of the 80 million people living in Britain, Black people only make up 3.5% (1.8million people). To put that number into perspective, you can fit almost all of the UK’s Black people into the built up areas of West Yorkshire. How then on that basis can such a small minority justify changing how history is taught to everyone in the UK? Majority rules right?

Black History Month was often a time growing up where more questions were directed to you, and if you didn’t know an answer, you were likely to be laughed at during break, ‘I thought you were black’. It was unwanted attention and pressure to pay extra attention and raise your hand a little bit more. It wasn’t a time of pride, it was a time of wondering why people were looking at you more than usual. The content of the lessons were a welcome break from hearing about Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Walter Raleigh. Growing older, and reflecting on the things we were told during BHM, questions begin to form.

There is a heavy focus on the 1960‘s Civil Rights movement in America and slavery, in comparison to mention about the Empire Windrush in 1948. I remember going to history class one day, and the teacher told us to stack tables on top of each other, and line them in a semi-circle around the classroom. We were then instructed to lie, one under and one on top of the tables to simulate how slaves were transported to Brazil, America and the Caribbean. As much as it was ‘interesting’ and somewhat informative, growing older, we start to realise that these few events only show a particular selection of Black History. For example, Brazil is hardly ever mentioned as the country which received the most slaves from West Africa. Black British history? John Blanke, Mike Fuller or John Edmonstone? Never.

First of all, the way BHM is at the moment, it lumps together African, African-American and Afro-Caribbean history into one. There is no real distinction between the many differences between these different groups, it’s a broad and fragmented history or people with dark skin. It doesn’t take into account that the experiences in Black America, were and still are very different from the Caribbean, Brazilian, British and African. But of course in one month there is no time to get into things into detail. Really? No time?

We spend 2 years studying for GCSE History exams, but it seems as though it’s more important to remember how many wives Henry VIII murdered, than how many people perished on those slave ships in the Middle Passage. Knowing other trivia like the disgusting ‘Queen Elizabeth I had 1 bath a year’ is absolutely pointless and currently trumps other relevant facts and events such as the evidence that the palace in the Kenyan city of Gedi had indoor toilets and piped water controlled by taps. Even if these facts aren’t deemed relevant, wouldn’t time being best served by learning about why Britain has become so multicultural, and the reasons behind many people wanting to Keep Britain White?

End of Part 1…

Part 2 here

As Black History Month comes to an end…

When I first decided to write a post a day for Black History Month, I didn’t expect that it would be so time-consuming! I also didn’t expect to have learnt as much as I have. I hope that all of you who have been reading these posts, have not only learnt a lot, but that these posts have caused you to think critically about some of the issues raised. There were many controversial issues discussed this month, for example, the issue of race within the Black community (I don’t rate Rosa Parks), and Human Zoos (Saartjie Baartman).
You may have noticed, that many of the people discussed aren’t the regular people you may find in schools on displays, and talked about in the media at this time every year. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Mary Seacole didn’t make it into this blog precisely because they are so well-known and their stories, though inspirational, get recycled year in and year out. I wanted to acknowledge some people who often aren’t spoken about. Their stories may be well known to some, but to the average person, not so much. After all, Black History Month is a chance to educate those who may not be aware of important men and women who have helped shape the world we all live in today.
This post is a tribute to those who haven’t featured this month, but have played a major part not only in Black history but in the worlds history.

1000509261001_2098673023001_Martin-Luther-King-The-King-YearsMartin Luther King, Jr.  (15 Jan 1929 – 4 April 1968)

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Harriet Tubman (c.1822 – 10 March 1913)

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Patrice Lumumba (2 July 1925 – 18 Jan 1961)

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Hattie McDaniels (10 June 1895 – 26 Oct 1952)

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Muhammed Ali (17 Jan 1942 – )

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Alek Wek (16 April 1977 – )

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Nelson Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 Dec 2013)

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Wilma Rudolph (23 June 1940 – 12 Nov 1994)

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Barack Obama (4 Aug 1961 – )

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Diane Abbott (27 September 1953 – )

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Sir Trevor McDonald (16 Aug 1939 – )

Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole (c.1805 – 14 May 1881)

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Malcolm X (19 May 1925 – 21 Feb 1965)

Miriam Makeba

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Miriam Makeba (4 March 1932 – 9 Nov 2008)

Miriam Makeba was born in South Africa, but spent the first 6 months of her life in jail after her mother was arrested and sentenced for selling homemade beer. She first started singing in her primary school choir, and was due to sing for the visit of King George VI, but he drove by her and her choir while they stood waiting for him in the rain. At the age of 18, not only gave birth to her daughter, but was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, she was treated successfully by her mother who was a traditional healer-herbalist.

Her musical career got a big break when she was first featured on a poster, and sang with the South African jazz group called the Manhatten Brothers. In 1956, she recorded and released the song Pata Pata, which made her a household name in South Africa, and over 10 years later, her album Pata Pata peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US in 1967. She recorded over 100 songs with the Manhattans, which allowed her to sing with artists like Dorothy Masuka, Abigail Kubeka and Mary Rabatobi. She toured Africa for 18 months after being recruited as a soloist in the African Jazz and Variety Review and became the female lead role in the South African musical named King Kong.

Her career continued to take off and she appeared in a film entitled Come back Africa. She was invited to the screening at the 1959 Venice film festival, and later flew to New York and played the Village Vanguard jazz club. She met and sang with Harry Belafonte at John F. Kennedy’s birthday party at Madison Square Garden and met the President later that night. her South African passport was cancelled and she testified against apartheid at the United Nations, with Guinea, Belgium and Ghana offering her passports. She won a Grammy in 1966 for her album with Belafone called An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba, and other songs such as The Click Song and Malaika became famous worldwide.
This all came to an abrupt end when she married the Black Panther Stokely Carmichael in 1968 as her record contracts and tours were cancelled. She relocated to Guinea where she became their official delegate to the United nations, and in 1975, addressed the United Nations for the second time.

Everybody now admits that apartheid was wrong, and all I did was tell the people who wanted to know where I come from how we lived in South Africa. I just told the world the truth. And if my truth then becomes political, I can’t do anything about that.

Her career includes performances at the Rumble in the Jungle fight between Ali and Foreman in 1974, and the Graceland Tour. She went on to record with artists such as Dissy Gillespie, Hugh Masekela and Nina Simone, performing at Nelson Mandelas 70th birthday tribute, and even appeared in an episode of The Cosby Show in 1991. She was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the FAO of the United Nations in 1999, and won the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold by the United National Association of Germany in 2001. When she died in 2008, she the world mourned a woman who had stood up against apartheid, one of the first internationally famous African vocalists ever, and recorded music that still has relevance today.

And why is our music called world music? I think people are being polite. What they want to say is that it’s third world music. Like they use to call us under developed countries, not it has changed to developing countries, it’s much more polite – Miriam Makeba

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Althea Gibson

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Althea Gibson (25 Aug 1927 – 28 Sept 2003)

Althea Gibson came from humble beginnings on a cotton farm in South Carolina, but moved to Harlem in 1930 after the Great Depression hit the family hard. It was in Harlem where Gibson began her sporting career, becoming the New York City women’s paddle tennis champion at the age of 12. In 1941, she entered and won her first tournament and after losing in the women’s final in 1946, she won 10 straight ATA women’s titles from 1947-1957.

She became the first black player (male or female) to be selected to compete in the United States national Championships (now called the U.S. Open) and the age of 23. Even though se lost in the second round, the journalist Lester Rodney wrote

No Negro player, man or woman, has ever set foot on one of these courts. In many ways, it is even a tougher personal Jim Crow-busting assignment than was Jackie Robinson’s…

Her first international title was won in Jamaica, and later that year she broke another barrier when she became the first Black competitor at Wimbledon in 1951. In 1956, she became the first Black athlete to win a Grand Slam event (the French open) and won the doubles title at the same tournament. Her partner for that tournament was Anglea Buxton who became the first Jewish champion at Wimbledon.
The next year, in 1957, she became the first Black player to win at Wimbledon, and the first champion to receive the trophy personally from Queen Elizabeth II. She was received as Jesse Owens had been, by ticker tape parade, and was presented with a Bronze Medallion. In total, she won 56 national and international singles and doubles titles and 11 Grand Slams. She also became the first Black woman to appear on the covers of Time magazine and Sports Illustrated. She retired in late 1958.
After all of that, in 1959, she recorded an album of standards called Althea Gibson Sings and after not receiving many offers or invitations like some of her opponents whom she had resoundly beaten, she became the first Black woman to join the LPGA tour. As you do.

She was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, as well as 7 other Hall of Fame organisations. She was the first woman to receive the Theodore Roosevelt Award, and in 2013, the US Postal Service commemorated her with a stamp. When she began playing tennis, less than 5% of tennis newcomers were minorities. Now, nearly 10% of all tennis newcomers are African-American.

I have all the opportunities today because of people like Althea. Just trying to follow in her footsteps. – Venus Williams

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#Legacy

Bob Marley – Redemption Song

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Redemption Song – Bob Marley

There aren’t many songs or artists for that matter, whose music and messages have stood for something much more than music to dance or sing along to. Bob Marley’s Redemption Song was written c.1979 and was part-inspired by a speech by Marcus Garvey. Although much more can be said about the man, his music and this song in particular, in this case, the lyrics say it all.

Redemption Song

Old pirates, yes, they rob I,
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.

But my ‘and was made strong
By the ‘and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly.

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but our self can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it’s just a part of it,
We’ve got to fulfill de book.

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but our self can free our mind.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall dey kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Some say it’s just a part of it,
We’ve got to fulfill de book.

Won’t you help to sing,
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever had,
Redemption songs.
All I ever had,
Redemption songs
These songs of freedom
Songs of freedom

Watch the great man sing and play it here