African American Legacy Series Spotlight: Ode To The Music Contributions Of Aretha Franklin

I just want to focus on Ms. Franklin’s retooling of other classic songs to point out her musical brilliance. As a trained pianist and arranger she oversaw the construction of those songs and added her own spin. The harmonies alone took these songs in a completely different direction.

In a hat tip to the universe and serendipity here’s a clip from a recent interview on CBS Sunday Morning where she is specifically asked about receiving acknowledgement as a songwriter instead of as a singer alone.

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AA Legacy Series Spotlight: Eartha Kitt

I’m reconfiguring an archived post that was my tribute to Eartha Kitt at news of her passing a little more than two years ago.

Reading the post again I just realized some of the themes we’ve recently been focused on – femininity, appearance, health and making choices as a “free” woman have been topics of interest to me all along! What a relief to discover I was connecting the dots but had to clear away the DBR nonsense and non-functioning beliefs that were getting in the way. The great thing about continuing at this “blogging obsession” of mine is one part of promoting our self-actualization and living full lives with no limitations.

That is sooo cool to me!

Despite her passing, she has still cast a long shadow. Pop Sugar UK has listed Ms. Kitt in their survey of 1950’s iconic hairstyles along with Lady Day, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Bettie Page.  Pretty is as pretty does.

Nice!

Those newer to this forum weren’t reading the blog way back in 2008 so this will be a nice introduction and reaffirmation for those who have but may have forgotten about the post.

Enjoy!

Eartha Kitt Tribute

AA Legacy Series Spotlight: Belva Davis

We’re winding down the end of (Black) Women’s Heristory Month. I invited readers to submit essays on women have moved or influenced them for inclusion and Vanessa Francis answered the call. Ms. Francis is an urban planner and policy analyst who runs the blog Wicked Urbanity. Check it out. She wrote a terrific tribute to journalist Belva Davis. It was a pleasure to include this, for as a Bay Area resident for a number of years I’ve had the distinct privilege of watching Ms. Davis on PBS. I hope you enjoy (it’s one of the few guest posts I’ll be allowing)!

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Belva Davis: Emmy Award Winning Journalist

Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.

photo from SF Gate

Holding the distinction of the first African-American woman television journalist in a western U.S. market, Belva Davis has overcome adversity to rise to the top.  Born in 1932 in Monroe, Louisiana to a teen mother, Davis moved to Oakland, California in 1942 with her family and lived in public housing.  Graduating from Berkley High School in 1951, Davis was accepted to San Francisco State University, however, she was not able to attend due to not being able to pay for a college education.   Davis soon went to work at the Naval Supply Center and soon after married Frank Davis Jr. and relocated to Washington, DC for Mr. Davis’ position with the U.S. Air Force.  During her time in D.C., Davis’ son was born there.  After a reassignment to Hawaii and then moving back to Oakland, Davis gave birth to a daughter.
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AA Legacy Series Spotlight: Betty Davis & Alice Coltrane

First of all these two ladies are far more than the wives of famous musicians. Betty Davis & Alice Coltrane were the equals of their counterparts in more ways than one. We are fortunate to still have one of these illustrious women amongst us and shouldn’t forget their contributions.

Betty Davis

“If Betty were singing today she’d be something like Madonna; something like Prince, only as a woman. She was the beginning of all that when she was singing as Betty Davis. She was just ahead of her time.”

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AA Legacy Series Spotlight on Della Reese

Continuing the AA Legacy Series for (Black) Women’s History Month, I want to highlight the actress and singer we know as Della Reese (clink the link for a video tribute). I was conducting research online and found the Della Reese dot com address but it’s not something she’s running. It’s more than a little creepy that someone other than Della Reese seems to own that domain name (they have it listed as a shell website) but at least they posted two videos of her.

I’m loathe to tout the 1st black to do x,y, z but in the case of these women trailblazers, the distinction is notable. I’m not going to do an entire career retrospective either. There’s a nice YouTube Channel that has her extensive archives. See the Della Reese Channel for video performances and clips that span her career. She has an autobiography, Angels Along The Way worth the read. In fact, I recommend everyone read all of the various career retrospectives, biographies and autobiographies of every black woman over the age of 45. There is much to learn.

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It’s Black Women’s History Month Y’all!

At least it is at Acts Of Faith In Love & Life.

I’m editing a few posts right now but then I remembered I had started the first post of what was meant to be a series on AA women with Ethel Waters way back from 2009. Since I was doing daily posts then (how did I find the time?) I forgot to continue the series!

I so appreciate the contributions of my elders and forebears. I am very proud of my heritage and have never wanted to be part of anyone else’s ethnic or racial group. We need to better honor these women by living well. I hope more people will read it and enjoy it this time.

Spotlight on Ethel Waters.

Please note, the woman singing with the Duke Ellington orchestra is not Waters but Ivie Anderson. By the way, I did complete Final Cut Pro…then my Mac died.

I’ve decided to set aside some of the other topics on tap and instead will be featuring a few AA women who’ve kicked butt and taken names in honor of (Black) Women’s History Month.

Via the NYT’s Book Review of Heat Wave: The Life & Career Of Ethel Waters (thanks Nichelle!)

Waters’s influence on her fellow singers and actors — especially, but not exclusively, African-American women — was such that Horne described her as “the mother of us all.” (Artists of a later generation would come to describe Horne in the same terms.) Starting out in black vaudeville in the early decades of the 20th century, Waters originally performed and recorded the sort of bawdy come-ons (“It’s Right Here for You” and “I Want to Be Somebody’s Baby Doll So I Can Get My Loving All the Time”) that, in the hands of Waters, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and other women, first established the blues as popular music. Waters’s style was advanced: understated, sophisticated, dramatic without being histrionic, ideally suited to the soon-to-emerge repertory of elegiac, subtly blues-influenced pop music that would come to be thought of as the Great American Songbook. It was Waters who made hits of the future standards “Am I Blue,” “Supper Time” and “Stormy Weather” (years before it became associated with Horne).

If there’s someone you’d like to see featured leave a message in the comment section. We can discuss a possible guest post as well for coverage of more women.  I’m more focused on the less obvious choices of women so we can all learn something.  Doing research is so much fun! I hope you enjoy the series. Have a great weekend everyone!