monday, march 29, 2010
*First In Flight



The other day I visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina and came across the Wright Brothers Museum. Wilbur and Orville Wright.Yea, Yea we learned about the Wright Brothers in elementary school, but I know now that  I only learned a very small portion of a most incredible story. Wilbur and Orville Wright have come to mean much more than just first in flight. After visiting the museum, and feeling the wind on my face at Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hill, I imagined the feeling of flying. This is one thing that I have often experienced in my dreams, but on this day I felt the power of the wind that lifted that makeshift plane off the ground and into the air. And it was the first time I really felt the wind. The wind became the catalyst for the dream. The dream lifted off. Wilbur and Orville Wright, brothers, worked hard together to achieve something that most thought was not only foolish but downright impossible. You want to fly? You foolish breed! I think it's fantastic to be told you can't do something. Some years later and many failures and illness, the brothers achieved the impossible. Many tried achieve this feat before the Wright Brothers, and some even  lost their very lives. This didn't stop the brothers. And then they did it. Only 12 seconds but they did it! First in flight. Now this leads me to something beautiful. My wonderful sisters. Angela and Teresa. From day one they have supported my dream. Lifted me like the wind. Pushed me and encouraged me.Took their time and their money and their God with me as we travel up and down the road all in support of the my dream. They indeed are the wind. Mom and Dad most assuredly are the wings. Steady and strong. And of course God is the pilot. And the engine. And the gas. And the...everything else. 

I climbed the Kill Devil Hill and stood in front of the beautiful monument erected in honor or Wilbur and Orville Wright. The inscription on the monument read: "In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Conceived by Genius. Achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith."

Unconquerable faith. I'm not sure if the wind caused a tear or if it was just the moment. But the tear swept across my face and I knew what I had to do.Orville once said. ""Isn't it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!"

And Wilbur would say, ""We could hardly wait to get up in the morning."

Now isn't that how we should live?



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sunday, february 08, 2009
*Another Day, Chance To Make Another Change

Some have asked me why I attempted to mix a John Coltrane song, "A Love Supreme" with Anthony Hamilton's "Pass Me Over" and then play it on my website. That's easy.  I was led to.
It was something so similar in the liner notes of "A Love Supreme" and the words to "Pass Me Over". There is a note that Coltrane once wrote to his wife that read "Another day. Chance to make a change". Anthony wrote, "Another day. Chance to make another change".
I once heard an interviewer ask Anthony Hamilton a question. Who is one of your musical influences? He said Coltrane. Wow! Coincidence? Not likely. But it was something eerily beautiful and similar about Coltrane's and Hamilton's words.
Something incredibly spiritual and pure. Something from the deepest parts of their souls. The tone of the liner notes and the words reinforce who God is. His grace and His mercy. The weakness of man and the strength of God. Giving over everything to Him. The Resolution is so obvious. Mankind is vulnerable. God is everything.  Don't be afraid, His word alone will keep you. Another day? Another chance to make a change.
He will remake...
He always has and He always will.
It's true. Blessed be His name. Thank you God.
God breathes through us so completely...
so gently we hardly feel it...
yet, it is our everything.
Thank you God.
All from God.
Thank you God. Amen.
(John Coltrane)
Johann Sebastian Bach wrote, "The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. If heed is not paid to this, it is not true music but a diabolical bawling and twanging."
Coltrane and Hamilton made and make true music.

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sunday, september 21, 2008
*A New Found Interest

All of this presidential race has gotten my brain numb. I never thought that I could be so addicted to any news that denounced one candidate over another just so my candidate would look good. I was interested in hearing any siphet of gossip, rumor or negative factual or nonfactual information that would ensure my candidate would win one of the most important elections of our American history. Not since the OJ trial have I been so riveted by news TV. Even having the opportunity to talk with my kids about something other than their lack of doing anything I really want them to do has been an enlightening experience. The release of the X-box was not as exciting. My discussions with my son about the NCAA final four have not even as heated as our discussions about this election. Even my daughter wakes me at 12:00 am to catch a news show of a candidate being interviewed. I couldn't believe how they were really interested in the future of our country. Then it hit me!!! They were really interested in the future of our country!! These supposedly mindless, just want to have fun, play video games all day long strange human beings, were actually paying attention!!! What finally got them to this point??? Was it war or the economy? Was it unemployment or draft possibilities. I mean, when did my daughter decide to turn from MTV to CNN? When did my son decide to talk about McCain versus Obama, rather than the Redskins versus the Cowboys? Well, actually that never happened and I don't think it ever will. Ok, so how did he get me to talk about politics with him, rather than his silly ways? Wow, what a huge opportunity we have in this country now to reach these weird people. Maybe with their newfound political interest, they can finally pick up their dirty clothes. I mean surely no person with thoughts of social justice, peace and tranquilty will now leave their dirty shorts lying around. Surely.

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thursday, august 02, 2007
*A Living Legend

The other day I had the opportunity to meet the great Reggie Workman, one of the most technically gifted bassists of all time. He was the guest artist at the John Coltrane Music Workshop which was held at the Griffin Penn Middle School in High Point, North Carolina, July 23-27th. Students ranging from the age of 10-17 were participants in the workshop. I will get into the specifics of this great workshop later, but first I just wanted to tell you what the first words out of my mouth were to Mr. Workman. “I am a huge Coltrane fan”. He said, “I am too”. Immediately, I wished I could have somehow retrieved those words! Mr. Workman had just given one of the best performances I have ever seen, and all I could say was that I was a huge Coltrane fan?? The reality was that I had just become a huge Reggie Workman fan, but I didn’t tell him that. He didn’t seem to mind that I was speaking of a man that he shared the stage with decades ago.  He didn’t seem to mind that all I could do was grab his hands and hold them because I knew those hands once shook the hands of the greatest jazz musician of all time. (In my opinion). He didn’t even mind when I shoved samples of my artwork in his face and told him to look it over and let me know what you think. Not only is he a great bass player, but he is an incredibly nice man. It was such a beautiful opportunity to see this man perform and even more incredible to see how he and the bass merged together and created sounds that quite simply moved your spirit.  He, along with another bass player, would later perform “Naima” a song written by Coltrane in honor of Coltrane’s first wife. Workman says in his notes, "I wanted to create a recording deeply rooted in our history and evolution, yet also truly futuristic." Workman’s rendition of Naima was indeed powerful. It dug into the very core of my soul. The very essence of our history. His way of making the bass speak to your spirit was transforming for me. I wish I had said it in the first few seconds of our meeting, but I’ll say it now. I am a huge Reggie Workman fan!

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friday, june 08, 2007
*Some Other Blues

Just recently the painting entitled "Some Other Blues" was purchased by the Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center at Vanderbilt University. The staff of the center posed a question to me concerning the concept of the painting and I want to share the question and the response with you.
What does T.Y.L. stand for? And we were wondering if the woman depicted is both representative of the Catholic faith and the Muslim faith (or all
faiths, hence what you said earlier about all women being connected?)
as she appears in what could be seen as a habit or a burqa. That seems
to resonate considering you've written "peace" and quoted Coltrane as
"believing in all religions". I'm not sure if by asking you I've perhaps crossed the artistic line? You may feel you shouldn't answer the question and that the painting's interpretation is up to each viewer? :-)
Thanks for the questions. I love talking all things Coltrane. "T.Y.L."
is from John's handwritten "psalm" included as the liner notes to a
"A Love Supreme".  It means "Thank You Lord."  "A Love Supreme" is often
considered one of the seminal albums of all time. Here is an excerpt
from the psalm:
God Loves
may I Be Acceptable in Thy sight
we are all one in his Grace
The fact that we are is
Acknowledgement of Thee O LORD
As for "crossing some artistic line;" don't all lines lead to God?  As
for the painting, it is what it is and sometimes my interpretation is
not necessarily the truth of the piece, but I will attempt to bring you
into my thought process for "Some Other Blues."
It was after Fallujah, and my heart was heavy from the attack and from
our response. It was neither appropriate or measured. As if there is
an "appropriately measured" way of eradicating human life. But, I
digress. There was an article about Fallujah in the New York Times
accompanied with a photo of three muslim women in burkhas walking past
a bullet ridden blood stained wall that somehow captured the entire war
for me, and thus made me sad. The three women became one, and as
you've noted seemed to represent other religions.  Indeed, she could
have been any and all religions. Amidst the chaos, Coltrane's
universalist message (I believe in all religions) seemed appropriately
ironic and necessary graffiti for that wall. And so I painted what I
saw that day, that moment. And now it is in a space where women
gather, nurture and support one another. Seems appropriate.

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friday, june 08, 2007
*The Love Of My Life!

This just came to me last night.

God didn’t make us just so that we could find the love of our life. Unless of course that love was God himself. How foolish it is for us to think that we were made just to find that special someone, that soulmate, that so many say will complete us. No one completes us!!!!!  We are complete when we are made. Everything we need is already there . If you don’t believe me then think about this. Most of you who are capable of reading this have just about everything you need within your body to survive. Blood cells continually flow throughout your body. Nerves keep reacting forcing your heart to beat and your lungs to expand. The heart beats much needed blood into our organs. And then our organs do what they are suppose to do. So if you are sitting in a chair, or a wheelchair, standing on two capable legs, or if someone has to read this to you, you still have the capablility to comprehend what I am about to say to you. God didn’t make you just so you could find the love of your life. Unless of course it is Him.

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thursday, april 12, 2007
*Happy Being Nappy

I suppose I should be irate about the latest comments by Don Imus as it relates to the Rutgers Women’s’ basketball team. I guess I should really be disgusted that young girls can rise to the caliber like this team did by unexpectedly defeating higher ranked opponents and gaining the opportunity to play in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship game. But you know what? I am. I most certainly am. I’m outraged because even after these young women achieved such a huge accomplishment, they were still relegated to what one fool would deem as “nappy headed hos”. As hard as they worked and were able to beat the odds, they still were not given the respect they deserved. I have to keep in mind that this was one man with one idiotic remark. But it goes to show the power of one. The power of the media. The power of the tongue. Whether it is used for good or whether it is used for bad it is still powerful. I can easily say that that comment would not have hurt me much, seeing that I have been called much worse in my lifetime. But these young women, and might I say ALL black women did not deserve the downright nasty, hurtful comments of this buffoon. In three simple words he was able to outrage a whole race of women. He was able to somewhat temporarily overshadow the accomplishments of these beautiful women. I know that the affect is indeed temporary, but the sting is still there. I guess I will never see the day when the color of our skin will not matter. You may be able to understand to some degree the hurt or the indignation felt, but I am not sure that you can ever quite understand the depth of the pain that it caused if you are not a black woman. Yeah, I know that we were taught that sticks and stones may break our bones, but words may never hurt me. But they still do. Like I said, I have been called a lot worst, and by better people than Imus for sure. You know…people like Snoop Dog, Yin Yang Twins, and Camron just to name a few. What does a happy nappy headed black girl have to do to get respect around here?

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tuesday, april 03, 2007
*It's The Feeling That Counts

“It’s hard to get musicians to realize they don’t have to

play perfect. It’s the feeling that counts.”

-Miles Davis (1960)

I love the painting "Improvisation" because of this very quote. I decided that I would let Coltrane lead me to where I needed to go on this one. That evening, I put Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" in the CD player and I waited to see exactly what that "feeling" would be. I'm not sure how long I stayed in that moment but after a while I approached the canvas almost trance like.  But I noticed the canvas wasn't blank.  No indeed. The painting was already there.  I just started moving and flowing and feeling the vibration. And before I knew it, the painting was finished. There wasn't much detail in this painting and some may say the colors are not quite right.  But Lord have mercy!! The feeling was there!!! And at that time I knew exactly what Miles meant.

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wednesday, february 28, 2007
*Shifted Anger

I’m always amazed at the human spirit and the things that we are capable of doing and achieving if we put our minds to it. More specifically, if we put our spirits to it. Even the possibility of shifting our anger. For example, I have definite opinions about morality issues, political issues, spiritual issues, family issues and community issues. These are inherently my opinions and my opinions only.  Some have changed or been redefined over the years but one thing remains for certain; they are all mine. I can’t fault you for yours and you definitely can’t fault me for mine. With that being said, I am an avid college basketball fan. I am a fanatic just like millions of people in this country. I fell in love with a team when I was a little girl and I have stuck with them for years. They lose, I get mad. I get real mad. They win; all is right with the world. At least for that moment. So my team loses the other day and I am really, really mad. I can’t even talk about it. So I decide to look at an episode of 60 minutes in which Mike Wallace is interviewing a very popular, very right wing radio personality whom because of my very own “opinions”, do not have much love for. More specifically, not much love for his “opinions”. But they are his opinions and his opinions only.  Just like that, my anger shifts from the loss of the game to the comments of this person who shall remain nameless. As I listen to him, I feel myself getting really outraged by his “thought process”. When the interviewer stated to the personality that he was in love with his perceived power he quickly denied it. My “thought process” quickly said “yeah right, Mr. 10 million dollars a year”. Wow 10 million dollars just for spouting your idiotic opinions over the air!??? What a country!! I was no longer outraged at the loss that my team endured. It all of so sudden felt so meaningless. I had better things to be angry about. But was it his misguided, albeit his own opinions or was it the 10 million dollars he was being paid to have them? Did my spirit lead me to this shifted anger because I had better things to be angry about or should I have ignored his comments and let the loss of a game consume me? At least with the latter, I would have been angry for only a day.

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monday, february 26, 2007
*A Thankful Mother

My son, Cory,  was injured the other night and had to spend a few days in the hospital. I am so thankful to God that he spared his life. Many of you have children and can imagine the fear that gripped me when I heard that my child was injured. My immediate reaction of course was to worry, and then to pray. As I drove to the hospital, everything about Cory played through my mind. The reason for this note is not to just tell you how thankful I am that is recovering, but to ask you to just think about some things for a minute.
Upon returning home from the hospital the first night, I looked at the news. The news headline was about 10 marines that had been killed that day. At that point, I broke down. Because I realized that I could have been a mother mourning for her son. But the news was mainly about the drama going on with Anna Nicole Smith, and when she would be buried, who would bury her, and who would get the baby. I've noticed that the media is constantly bombarding us with news that has  nothing to do with us. Although her death was a tragedy, the aftermath is a circus. It's not that important. Rememeber 10 marines died that day. And who really cares that Britney Spears is bald?! I hate that she is having a nervous breakdown, but there is a boy missing from his family in Greensboro. Isn't that more important?
I'm not saying that we should focus on the grief in our society, but we are destined to become numb to it all if we cover it up with rediculous outlets and burying our heads in the sand. 
A friend of mine told me today that his best friend's son died in Iraq, February 13, 2007. He was 20 years old. His name was not broadcasted all over the TV as was the scalping of Britney. His name was DAWAYNE JOEL AMOS ROZZELLE. I hear he was a very nice and respectful young man. I have a link to a guestbook that has been set up for him, if you would like to express your sympathy to his family.
Why am I doing this??
Because we are all from One.
Pray for his family and this world. Become less interested in the things that distract us, like mundane and worthless TV shows and media hounds.
Love your family more and God even more. Remember those that are still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hug your beautiful children or just give them a call to say I love you.
Peace to you all.

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