July 26 2017

Gladys Knight On Muhammad Ali

In her autobiography, Gladys Knight spoke of her admiration for Muhammad Ali. She said she admired him so much she gave her son the middle name “Ali” in his honor.

“Ali came from one of our favorite people- and one of the world’s too- Muhammad Ali, who has the heart and spirit of a child. I’d known Ali for years and had even been lucky enough to see him fight once in a match with Larry Holmes, which Ali lost, and I always felt it was my fault because we sang the national anthem that night and I was hoping it would bring him luck.

The great fighter lived in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and we often visited him. Or I should say, our children took us to visit him. He’d spend hours entertaining us with his elaborate magic shows. He’d entertain us with tapes of his old fights, giving us his running commentary until he’d get tired and just curl up in the middle of the floor and go to sleep. We didn’t know it then, but he was already exhibiting the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, which would slow his body, but not his agile mind, considerably over the years.” -From, “Between Each Line of Pain and Glory” By: Gladys Knight

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March 2 2017

Beverly Johnson On Samba Music

Beverly JohnsonIn her autobiography, Beverly Johnson discusses falling in love with samba music during her month-and-a-half photo soot on Brazil: “We shot a variety of photo layouts during the six weeks in Brazil, but I also managed to fit in samba classes every day. I fell in love with samba, a distinctive kind of music with African roots that really took off at the beginning of the twentieth century in Rio de Janeiro. That music was strongly influenced by the immigrant population from the Brazilian state of Bahia, and it later inspired the dance that shares its name. Learning it brought me a great deal of joy.”

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January 15 2016

Lena Horne On Malcolm X

Lena Horne“Malcolm X raised my consciousness about myself and my people and other people more than any person I know. I knew him before he became Malcolm X.

Malcolm X made me very strong at a time I needed to understand what I was angry about. He had peace in his heart. He exerted a big influence on me.” -Lena Horne

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January 1 2016

The Start Of The Black Underground Music Scene In New York

Juke Joint“There had, of course, been slave music and dancing in the city in the colonial period, but there had always been limits to these activities: No matter how successful black New Yorkers were at testing the limits of their bondage, they were still slaves, usually living under their owners’ direct supervision. The exhilaration of recently won freedom, the shucking off of petty restrictions, the establishment of independent households, and the influx of blacks with diverse experiences in Africa, the Caribbean, or elsewhere in the United States was a potent mix that would influence the contours of black New York culture, particularly music and dance. As slavery gradually wound down, black music and dance found a new venue and, in the case of New York, that venue was literally underground.”-From, “Slavery in New York”

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