Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sparkle--A Tribute to Whitney

I really enjoy the big blockbuster movies, all the Super Heroes, the Bonds and the Borns. But, what I choose to write about are the music movies. These are the ones that thrill me, touch me deeply and make me want to shout out. Sparkle did that for me. Ok, I really wanted to see this because of my girl, Whitney Houston. Her voice has touched me like no other, probably because I feel the heart, the soul, the gospel soul in everything she sings, and that's an essential part of my music canon. 

But, Wow! I have to say, Jordin Sparks surprised me. She's the American Idol winner of season six and was only 17 then. But now, not only can she sing, she can act. She was so believable as the innocent daughter of a mother (Whitney) who was trying to raise her three daughters away from the music industry which nearly destroyed her. Set in the 1960s in Motown, the three sisters began a singing group without their mother knowing. Sparkle's talent for writing songs and her ability to perform gave her the impetus to try being a star. The drama of beginning a group with her two older sisters and the unfolding spiral into an abusive relationship by her eldest sister, Tammy, brought the family to its knees. But, the talent and the soul was in Sparkle all the while, she was just too shy to let it out. Stix (Derek Luke), the manager of the sister-singers, gave Sparkle the love, the encouragement, and the assistance she needed to be recognized as a star. 

Besides the wonderful visuals in a movie, I always pay attention to the music in a film. And, honestly, nothing touched me deeper than Whitney singing, His Eye is on the Sparrow and Jordin singing a song for her eldest sister called One Wing. But don't leave the theater before hearing the final duet of Whitney and Jordin, Celebrate. R. Kelly produced those last two songs, and they are sure to be R&B hits. Any film that has music at it's core catches my attention. And I must not be the only one otherwise why would Hollywood be pouring out music and dance films faster than a speeding bullet. Music films are on an upsurge. Yeah! for those of us who love music.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pick A Song that is You

For my class in Theology of Popular Music the other day, we all had to pick one song that means something to us and bring it to class to play it during our Listening Party (cool class, eh?). How can you pick one song that represents you? I like so many genres of music--pop, rock, soul, R&B, country rock, gospel--and so many eras of songs--40s on up--how is it possible to pick one song? Well, let me tell you it was hard. I had 5 songs spanning 4 decades that were on my iPhone and I didn't know which one I would play until I got up in front of the class. What did I pick, you say? Yes, I love soul, blues, R&B but I couldn't nail down one artist. Also, I didn't want to come out as the "older person" in the class. I grew up with great rock groups of the 70s--Journey, Van Halen, Styx, Survivor, Queen--and enjoy listening to the hard edge of rock with its powerful rhythms and beats. So, here it is.... in the end, I picked.... a new Alanis Morissette song, called Guardian. I like Alanis because of her angst and searching and well as her rock rhythms. The music speaks for itself and touches deep. I felt this song spoke to me about the idea that we want to protect and guard our loved ones, but we, in the end, must leave them free to find their way in life. But, its rock sound and rhythm speaks deep to me as well. I many times don't need lyrics to give shape to my emotions and feelings. Music speaks for itself and draws out these emotions within us in a way words cannot. Take a listen to the song. Let me know what song you would have chosen.