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We Gotta Have It!

Music Last Updated: Aug 18th, 2014 - 23:56:25

A Genius and Innovator
For those of you who did not know him or his work, Fred Ho was a musical genius and innovator. Though he was of Chinese-American descent, he was inspired by the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and—like the work from that movement—Fred’s music was always about speaking truth to power, social change and revolution.
By Esther Iverem

Apr 21, 2014, 22:05

Top Jazz Picks
Ahmad Jamal, Steve Coleman & Five Elements and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society top Gene Seymour's jazz picks for 2013--and he gives props to Branford Marsalis for sticking up for jazz listeners and lovers.

Dec 26, 2013, 15:29

After The Dance...
Intimacy in the Grooves: The fact that many young Blacks don’t slow dance, is as much about their relationship to the music, as it is their relationship to their bodies. For many Black Americans, music was the site in which intimacy could be realized, and as Angela Davis points out in her book Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, there were political ramifications. By Mark Anthony Neal

Apr 14, 2013, 20:19

In Remembrance: Willa Ward and Byard Lancaster
Willa Ward was half of the Ward Singers.
Within two weeks, the city of Philadelphia lost two of its artistic legends, Willa Ward of the Ward Sisters and alto saxophonist Byard Lancaster, leaving music lovers of multiple creative styles feeling an unparalleled sense of loss.
By Frank Dexter Brown

Sep 13, 2012, 13:01

An Old School Kind of Love
Leela James
Part of Etta James’ legacy, besides her singular voice, was her transgressive spirit. James did much on her own terms, even until her death, and it is that spirit that vocalist Leela James’ taps into for her latest recording Loving You More (In the Spirit of Etta James).
By Mark Anthony Neal

Aug 22, 2012, 18:50

An Al Jarreau live performance in Europe is one of the recordings remembered this year.
Black Music Month Special: is pleased to present again favorite song memories from Black journalists across the USA. This year, the eternal impact of showmen, songstresses and innovators.
Edited by Wayne Dawkins

Jun 7, 2012, 12:37

Of (Black) Men and Song
From the Digital Crate: of (Black) Men and Song (ver. 1.0): Listening to Andy Bey is like dreaming about what you’ve never been. And perhaps this is what fueled Bey in the first place.
By Mark Anthony Neal

May 11, 2012, 18:58

Liberating ‘Black Radio’
Liberating ‘Black Radio’- The Robert Glasper Experiment: the genius of Glasper’s new recording is its willingness to expand the range of what we consider Black music and what Black radio might consider as appropriate for Black or so-called “Urban” audiences. By Mark Anthony Neal

Mar 14, 2012, 12:09

Remembering Whitney
Mark Anthony Neal,'s contributing editor, appears on DemocracyNow! to talk about the deaths and legacies of singer Whitney Houston and "Soul Train" founder Don Cornelius. Neal says of Houston: We had never seen that level of Black celebrity before… Her success in the mainstream was really unprecedented."

Feb 13, 2012, 15:17

Mahalia Bearing Witness
Though Mahalia Jackson's record companies crossed Jackson over as a beacon of “Black Respectability,” in opposition to the decidedly secular, sexual and profane sounds and images of New Orleans, she still bore witness to her hometown's spirit.
By Mark Anthony Neal

Nov 21, 2011, 13:56

A Whole Lot To Love
Heavy D--We wish you a peaceful journey...
The "overweight lover MC" Heavy D, whose real name was Dwight Errington Myers, joined the ancestors on Tuesday, Nov. 8 after he collapsed at his home in California. He was 44 years old. Here is an interview with him from 1997. By Esther Iverem

Nov 9, 2011, 13:52

A Soundtrack of Life
What’s your soundtrack of life in 2011? A handful of Black journalists revealed soundtracks playing in their heads for the past 50 years ending in one or six. Their choices included The Marvelettes “Mr. Postman” from 1961; Johnnie Taylor’s “Disco Lady” from 1976; or the Destiny’s Child anthem “Independent Women” from 2001. Read, listen [to audio links] and enjoy.

Aug 29, 2011, 12:49

The Devil and Gil Scott-Heron
Perhaps we’ll never fully know if the drug-addiction and other dependencies that so often derailed Scott-Heron’s vision was part of some COINTELPRO inspired conspiracy to deny our most gifted and passionate, access to the thing that matters the most—their right minds. By Mark Anthony Neal

Aug 1, 2011, 12:42

A Marriage in Music
20 Years in 27 Days:
Day #1: Stevie Wonder “That Girl”
From Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium 1, Volume 1
(Listen here)
By Mark Anthony Neal

Jul 28, 2011, 08:32

Chasing Aretha-- The Columbia Years
Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete On Columbia features enough of the Aretha Franklin that we have all come to (think we) know, that it demands a revaluation of Franklin's career, one that inevitably only enhances her reputation as that of the greatest vocalist of the 20th Century.
By Mark Anthony Neal

Apr 8, 2011, 10:44

Afraid of the Dark
The Forgotten Legacy of Nat King Cole. When Cole died 46 years ago, Ebony Magazine described Cole as “the most celebrated Negro to die in world history.”
By Mark Anthony Neal

Mar 10, 2011, 16:39

A Prayer For Aretha
ARETHA AT HER PEAK—Firmly established as the “Queen of Soul” and still more than a decade away from the caricature that she has become, Aretha Franklin was at the peak of her artistic powers when she recorded Amazing Grace. More than 35 years after its release, the album stands as the best testament of Franklin’s singular genius.
By Mark Anthony Neal

Dec 15, 2010, 14:41

Bringing Out The Joy
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, the band featured in the 2006 documentary of the same name, is spreading their joyous rhythms on a new U.S. tour. (Video included).
By Eve M. Ferguson

Sep 28, 2010, 12:50

Abbey Lincoln's Legacy
Mumia Abu-Jamal pays tribute to Abbey Lincoln's roots in the art of Black consciousness.

Aug 27, 2010, 12:45

Grooves of Consciousness?
The myths of political music--from the recent debate between critic Mychal Smith and rapper Talib Kweli to the political and profane career of Marvin Gaye.
By Mark Anthony Neal

Aug 4, 2010, 14:15

Journey: The Sound of Black
Singer Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio are touring the country and taking listeners on a excursion to a small piece of the history of Black music.
By Mark Anthony Neal

Jun 24, 2010, 13:17

God Parent of Hip-Hop?
BLACK MUSIC MONTH 2010: When Nikki Giovanni went into the studio 40 years ago to record Truth is On Its Way, she was blatantly trying to bring the profane in conversation with the sacred, two decades before Kirk Franklin and later Kanye West would bring ghetto theodicy to the top of the pop charts.
By Mark Anthony Neal

Jun 10, 2010, 13:38

Mary J Blige-American Voice
Mary J. Blige’s recent willingness to tackle Led Zepplin's “Stairway to Heaven" bolsters a long articulated claim that she—and by extension Black women vocalists—be read as a quintessential American Voice.
By Mark Anthony Neal

Apr 26, 2010, 17:16

A Song Worth Singing

Teddy Pendergrass's popularity as a emerging solo artist was rooted in his performance of a Black masculinity that was virile and potent and tailor-made for a cultural discourse that had moved beyond the struggles for Civil Rights and fixated on establishing acceptable images of Black masculinity within an integrated society.
By Mark Anthony Neal

Jan 21, 2010, 15:01

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We Gotta Have It
Order Esther Iverem’s We Gotta Have It: Twenty Years of Seeing Black at the Movies. 1986-2006. An essential overview of the “New Wave” in Black cinema—a complex, often surprising perspective on art, society, and history.  More than 400 reviews, plus essays and interviews from your favorite movie critic.

Early raves for We Gotta Have It:

"Esther Iverem brings a voice that is deft, insightful and good-humored to the subject of African American culture."
      --Tavis Smiley

"Esther Iverem… is, hands down, one the smartest cultural critics of her generation. This wonderful romp through the last two decades of black-subject films will have you visiting your local video store on the regular.  It’s one of those book we gotta have."
      --Robin D. G. Kelley

"The work of African American filmmakers continues to out pace critiques and commentary by African American film critics. Esther Iverem closes this gap.
      --Warrington Hudlin

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