Archives Reveal Family History

Archives Reveal Family History
Paternal Geat-grand Parents, Mittie and Jacob Smith

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

“All Things in Time” – New jazz CD coming in July

The old adage that music is the balm that soothes the savage beast could never have had more meaning than it does today during these difficult times.

Music has played such a significant role in my life that, whatever pursuits and challenges have engulfed me, my passion for music has beckoned me back into its warm embrace like a torrid love affair.

My new CD “All Things in Time” will be released on my birthday this year – July 16, 2008. This project is for me a musical career highlight allowing me to share a bit of my soul by singing lyrical stories that I hope will entertain, soothe, amuse, and stir soulful reflection for generations now and to come.

The great musicians appearing on my CD share a singular common trait; an abiding love and deep appreciation for our great African-American jazz tradition. Many of these great artists continue to shape the music’s global evolution as major jazz innovators. I am deeply grateful to call many of these artists friends. They have played a big part in my musical odyssey over the years.

I hope that newly initiated listeners and old fans who have wondered what might have happened to me will take the journey with me and find enduring enjoyment in the 12 great American songs and medleys presented here. Above all, I give honor to God through whom all blessings flow.

Even though the CD isn’t released yet, Herb Boyd, one of America’s finest writers and a notable jazz critic, has penned a review that appeared in the Amsterdam News this week (May 8 – 14) (See attached). All that is needed now is for those of you who love the music to help sustain it by supporting it. I’ll keep you posted when the CD is released.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

America - Yes, They Can!

As a former teacher in New York City's public schools, I am acutely aware of the daily challenges faced by teachers and students alike – nagging peer pressure, abetted by corporate media’s subliminal yet unrelenting television commercials and hip-hop music videos that extol the values and perceived virtues and rewards of a glorified “gansta” life style. Teachers face an endless task of devising creative methods and curriculum designed to motivate and cultivate young minds. They must constantly look for fresh and relevant opportunities to introduce content to engage students’ personal and broader social exploration of self and society.

The candidacy of Barak Obama this year has offered urban educators precisely what pedagogical types refer to as that coveted “teachable moment.” Obama’s candidacy when, framed by a masterful teacher like Mr. Jackson Shafer in the Bronx High School for Performance and Stagecraft, as seen in the video posted here [See link on left], offers a platform to engage students in their favorite subject: ME. Mr. Shafer’s students explore how, as individuals and collectively, the Obama narrative connects with their own lives and personal challenges. In Obama’s quest they are able to see their own possibilities and life potential and to recognize how their individual lives intersect with broader communal, social, and political concerns.

This is learning and teaching at its finest.

Whether or not Senator Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee for president of the United States of America in 2008, his emergence as a viable candidate of color continues to inspire millions of minority youth in America and around the world in ways unimaginable.

I hope you agree that this powerful 13-minute video is worth viewing and should be seen in classrooms and among those responsible for the education and uplift of America’s youth.