Category: gospel

Throwback: Happy (Belated) 83rd Birthday, Mavis Staples!

JOVM’s William Ruben Helms belatedly celebrates Mavis Staples’ 83rd birthday.

Throwback: Black History Month: Mavis Staples

The month is flying by: Today is February 11, the 11th day of Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience. Of course, I hope that throughout this month you’ll remember — and appreciate the following:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

JOVM mainstay Mavis Staples is a legend and an international treasure. We should love her and cherish her while she’s still here with us. She’s your soul grandma; she’s there for you when you need her most.

Throwback: Black History Month: Aretha Franklin

February 10 is the tenth day Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience. Of course, I hope that throughout this month you’ll remember — and appreciate the following:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Tonight I thought it would be best to write about Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. You can Google any pertinent biographical information but I have a story about ‘retha that I’ve mentioned on several occasions: I landed in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport early in the morning one mid-January Sunday. After going through customs and retrieving my suitcase — a suitcase that I had gratefully borrowed from a girlfriend — I took the commuter train into Amsterdam Centraal Station to discover that I had a couple of hours before anything was open.

A smiling, blonde waitress waved me in a few minutes before they were about to open. They had an oldies radio station on the air, playing familiar and beloved hits from a variety of decades. Within about two hours of being in Amsterdam, I was reminded of how ubiquitous Black music and culture are, and how important the Queen of Soul is when this radio station started playing ‘retha — and the waitress happily sung along in slightly accented English. Now, whenever I hear ‘retha, I think of that Dutch waitress singing along.

Throwback: Black History Month: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Today is the first day of Black History Month. And throughout this month I’ll feature Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards understanding the Black experience. Throughout the month I hope that you’ll appreciate these facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

The first person that came to mind was the amazing Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Tharpe was the first major gospel star, who wound up presaging the rise of the electric blues. She saw crossover success with blues, R&B and rock audiences throughout her life and that shouldn’t be surprising, She’s also been considered the godmother of rock ‘n’ roll — with her work influencing the likes of Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and others. She’s that important and yet, she doesn’t always get her fair share of credit. Check out some oof the live footage I’ve come across. You’ll be convinced.