And so it goes
Before meeting Dr. King in 1955 at Jackie Robinson’s house, I’d never considered myself too “political.” After meeting him, I got involved here & there, but it wasn’t until his assassination that I really dropped everything & went to work. I immediately flew back to Chicago to volunteer for Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH alongside a group of dedicated boardmembers. I then went down to the funeral with Marlon Brando, Norman Jewison, & many others. Following the mule-drawn wagon carrying Dr. King’s casket through the streets of Memphis, in a crowd of thousands, pushed me right to the edge. We were enormously affected by the whole experience & it felt as though the rug had been completely pulled out from under us. On very little sleep, we held seminars in local high schools by day, & by night, we put on variety shows at the Chicago Amphitheater with Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, the Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye, the Motown roster & so many more. We made it our goal to continue the work that Dr. King was doing, only this time, we would do it through our musical platforms we’d previously built for entertainment. Regardless of these efforts, we still received criticism & the sound of “boos” echoed throughout the halls. Black artists have always been forced to walk a thin line between what is politically acceptable for them to say or do…So, my newly politicized life drew death threats, & the White Citizens Council’s national newsletter, “The Thunderbolt,” had a large picture of my family on the front page, calling my mixed kids “mongrels.” Our phones were even tapped (never could figure out by whom) & for the first time in my life, I had to worry about my family’s security. My entire career/life has been based on trying to break down the walls amongst people of all colors. While it’s an honor to be the “first black to _fill in the blank_” I also hate it. I hate it because it means the “only black to_fill in the blank_.” So today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I want to remind you all that it’s not about being “too political,” it’s about standing up for your rights. We get so wrapped up in the labels that we forget about what we’re fighting for. Dr. King wasn’t some immortal being that had more power than the rest of us…He was simply a human being who chose to use his God-given power for the right reasons. I especially want to address the artist community out there…It’s not about using your lyrics to stir up anger within your fans, it’s about educating them. Educate them about how they can make a difference & how they can learn to be better leaders. Sing louder, play louder, & most importantly, love stronger. Today, we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, mourn the losses, celebrate the wins, mourn the setbacks, & celebrate our future. But we can only celebrate our future if we all put in the necessary work to make it better than the present. #MLKDay ... See more
Proud to have been involved from the start! https://nyti.ms/2FCnm8U
The music producer Quincy Jones and the mogul Ron Meyer join Mr. Carter, who is now on ‘garden leave,’ in investing in an Instagram-style app called Zig.
We'd be lying to ourselves if we didn't recognize the fact that women have to go the extra mile...even though we've made progress, if you just take a look around, you'll see that there's still more to be done. But, it makes my soul smile to see female trailblazers out there, doing their thing, despite opposition. One such name was the fearless Melba Liston: one of the first female trombonists to play in big bands during the 1940's-1960's. When I was the musical director/arranger for Dizzy's Big Band State Department tour back in '56, I had Melba on as a trombonist/arranger & man I'm tellin' ya, she was IT. In the all of the male environments we continuously found ourselves in, not only did she keep up...she was one hell of a LEADER. She continued to face misogynistic ideals throughout her career, but that never kept her down...If she were alive today, I know she would be so proud to see all of the little girls playing in bands, because you can't imagine what she had to go through, especially as a black female. Always remember & learn about those who came before you, because without them, you wouldn't be where you are today... Melba, Happy Birthday baby lady! Keep kickin' it up there as much as you did down here!! 📸: G. Marshall Wilson ... See more
I always say that the last two things to leave this Earth will be water & MUSIC! For real...how long can you last without it??You can't! It's embedded into our souls...Whether or not you're actually listening to music, I bet you're humming, singing, or hearing some sort of rhythmic pattern. And even if you can't hear it...you FEEL it! Music is absolutely fascinating to me & I love sharing it with y'awl. So, because Louis Armstrong always used to tell us, "play it don't say it," I'm going to start sharing my top 20 songs of the week by posting a new Spotify playlist each week...Hope U enjoy!! ... See more
Each week, I will post a playlist comprised of new music I love, some of my all-time favorites, + a few from my catalog...I'll try to do this for y'awl all year!...xxoo...q
Two words for ya... 1.) Jacob 2.) Collier ((:0)) My bro!! U are IT. And man, I loved seeing you & Herbie get right down to it there at the end. In the pocket...Jacob Collier Herbie Hancock
Musician, composer and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier explains the concept of harmony to 5 different people; a child, a teen, a college student, a professional, and jazz legend Herbie Hancock.
Sometimes, all you need is someone who believes in you. For me, one of the first names that comes to mind is the legendary Bobby Tucker. At the time in 1948, he was Billie Holiday's musical director/piano player, & even though he could've chosen older/more experienced jazz cats, he asked us scrawny little kids in the Bumps Blackwell Band to back up Lady Day at the Eagle's Auditorium in Seattle. After standing onstage with her in complete awe, Tuck threatened to make us buy our own tickets to the show if we didn't start playing, so we got our act together! ((:0)) Later that year, he hired me again when he came to town with Billy Eckstine...Eckstine was on Eddie & Nicole Barclay's label, Barclay Records, & he referred me to her when she was looking for an arranger to come write with Barclay in Paris. I went to work for Nicole for 3 months & I wound up staying for almost 5 years! During that time, I studied with the great Nadia Boulanger (who Lalo Schifrin told me about when I was on the State Department's Goodwill Tour with Dizzy). One day, I went to class (took Tuck with me) & we watched Nadia play a few bars of "Firebird." She was sharp as a razor & she told our class to clap the rhythms of the second violin...We started clapping & she stopped us & said "No, no. Ritardando!!! Stravinsky told me himself!" Tuck & I looked over at each other & we both had a look of "We are just two little raggedy mofos from Chicago & New Jersey...How did we get here?!" It was a moment of disbelief & pure gratitude all at once. I have to say, throughout that whole crazy journey, Tuck believed in me & gave me a chance...So, on what would've been your 95th birthday today, I just want to say thank you for sticking with me & giving me the purest gift of belief. Happy Birthday Tuck!! I know you're probably playing the piano loud & proud up there!! ((:0)) ... See more
Can't believe it has been exactly 25 years since you left, & I still miss you as much as I did then...Thankful for the music & legacy you gifted us with. An absolute irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind...Dizzy. ... See more
If Dizzy Gillespie were still here with us, today would’ve marked his 100th birthday...I had loved him ever since I was 12 years old & had first met him in NY through Oscar Pettiford. Dizzy had style, soul, technique, & substance...He truly was everything I wanted to be as a musician, & I’m forever grateful to him for giving me one of my first big breaks…In 1956, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. told Dizzy that, “If you could put together a big band, I’ll have the State Dept. sponsor & send it abroad.” Well, Dizzy accepted & called me up saying, “Young catter, I want you to play trumpet, arrange, & be musical director for that band. Put it together for me.” He believed in me, despite my age (22 going on 23), so I put a band together (some of his cats & some of mine), & we took jazz to places in the world that had never heard it before….He truly taught me so much about how to handle responsibility & gave me the confidence to confront whatever I was presented with. There’s no possible way to fit everything I want to say in this post, but I do want to say...Happy Birthday Dizzy! You’re in my heart always, & not a day passes that I don’t feel you in my soul! 📸: Herman Leonard ... See more
Happy New Year to you!!...I don’t know why, but I‘ve got a feeling that THIS is the year...the year for positive change, unity, & achieving life long goals. But I mean, we can’t expect anything to happen if we just sit around, so...who’s with me?? Let’s do this 👊🏾 Turn those New Year’s resolutions into actions!! 📸: John Sciulli ... See more
The holidays might be over, but it's never too late for good music \\(^o^)/...For all my friends out there who want to learn how to play the piano, you can actually take virtual lessons from David Sides through my piano learning software Playground Sessions! I'm so proud of this thing & it absolutely makes my soul smile to see y'awl learning how to play...while actually enjoying yourselves too ((:0)). Happy New Year!! ... See more