Saturday, April 23, 2016

L is for "Look Out Positivity! (A Poem)"

Look Out Positivity! 
(A Poem)
by Stephanie Jeannot

Like a breath of fresh air
you take in after a long week inside the office,
you step out to exhale;
Yes, It’s the weekend!
Yes! It’s the season of blessings 
that I knew was coming.
So let’s get on with it; doubting not even one bit
Singing paeans of gratitude 
and feeling inspired and renewed
because I’m in the midst of the weekend;
a healing for the week that had me wounded
and here I am flowing with this natural rhythm,
overflowing with happiness;
wrapping my ideas around my increase

Again! A yes I release 
because I can say that the sun is within me.
Such a hard mask to contain
when from negative thoughts I abstain
because I realize that good things 
happen when faith is alive.
So good that I’m flapping my wings 
and attaching myself to the sky.
So thankful to be graced with another second of life.
So blessed to know that victory is mine.
So good to be amidst this moment in time
and to know that this day God made, is for smiles.
So to rewind and retry all the falls 
that for which youth was my alibi,
I have come to decide to let them ride
Especially since I know like wine 
I age fine and out loud.
And all that truly counts is the matter of facts of the now. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

E & F is for Eleanora Fagan, Happy 101st Birthday

Lady Day, born as Eleanora Fagan, better known as Billie Holiday was born on this date in April, 1915. 101 years later, her music and life is still celebrated as one of the best examples of true jazz singing.

Life is beautiful when you can let go of the drama of the day by listening to a song she penned like, "God Bless the Child."

Lady Day once said that when she sang, she would let her voice out in the way that she thought Louis Armstrong would. Another influence of hers was Bessie Smith; but in all truth, her style is unlike any other singer then and even until today. This is most likely the reason why she has influenced so many artists since she started changing the face of music while singing with Lester Young and other jazz Katz in the Jim Crow of the United States. Her appeal was as unforgettable as the gardenia in her hair. And the more I hear her voice, the more I love her approach. 

Happy birthday to the beautifully talented Billie Holiday. SIP! 

Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Compilation of Black Writers

The National Black Writers Conference which takes place in Brooklyn, NY at Medgar Evers College every two years, happened this past March 31 to April 3, 2016 and featured a multitude of literary gatherings where a plethora of writers presented themselves and their works to the general public, eager to delve into new, exciting reads by black writers.

Of the many that were there, here are three that caught my attention. 

Theresa A Campbell

Campbell is the author of "God Has Spoken," "Are You There God" and the book most recently released on March 1, 2016, "His Final Deal." 

She was inspired to write by the untimely passing of her uncle and writing was therapeutic to her healing. She started writing based on the conversations on her goals and dreams, which she would have with her uncle and which inspired her first book, "Are You There God."

This author of three books is a native of Jamaica, now living in New York and offers to writers the advice that, Rome is not built in one day. She advises writers to not be discouraged and to believe in their work and to keep going one day at a time. 

Also a person who holds on to faith, tells writers that our steps are ordered by the Lord and when it's your turn, it's your turn and went further to say that perseverance is the key.

Uriah Brown

We often hear in the news, a story of a young black man facing abuse from the police. Uriah Brown was a victim of police brutality and since has been living with the idea that white cops are targeting our young, black men. His book, "The Black Bubble", discusses this issue and the disadvantages of this dilemma in America. 

Brown advises young, black men to seek education because education is the key to combatting this racist society. He believes that it takes unity and education to dismantle the system and advises parents to lead their children correctly so that they are able to navigate this world better.

Emmanuel Olawale

It is never an easy thing to leave everything behind and to go somewhere different, and Olawale is no stranger to that. 

He is a first generation American from Nigeria. He was raised in poverty and came from Nigeria at the age of 20 without a dime. But despite his dilemma, he was able to gain an education, pursue college at CUNY College of Staten Island and graduate at the top of his class. 

Years later, Olawale is a lawyer and in the past four years has been named one of the top ten lawyers and has been nominated as a judge in Delaware. Talk about fate! He went from poverty to prominence and his book, "The Flavor of Favor: Quest of the American Dream, A Memoir," talks about his life journey. What an inspiring journey. I tell you, if God and faith in him is not part of your trajectory, you are already defeated. Olawale proves that. 

Disclaimer: I am not a book seller nor will I gain compensation monetarily or through free books. This post was written based on my participation as a supporter of the National Black Writers Conference and as a support system for black writers, only! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Review of "Miles: The Autobiography"

The deeper I dive into Miles: The Autobiography by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe, the more I love the legendary trumpeter.

“Music is about style” – Miles Davis

I have seen some of his past concerts on DVD and the first thing that always caught my attention when watching was that he never spoke to the crowd. I had once asked a musical friend of mine if he were deaf or mute not realizing what he was really doing which was playing the system. He was using his identity that he gained through America’s musical genre known as jazz music, against the Jim Crow system that expected him to work in White only establishments only to serve but would not allow him to walk in the front door with everyone else or sit side-by-side his white only fans. He felt that club owners started to believe that they owned musicians just because they shared their talents at their establishments. So he served alright, and that’s it. He didn’t welcome the crowd. He didn’t tell the crowd the names of the songs. He turned his back to them. He basically played, got payed and left. The crowd thought he was rude, but what’s ruder than being allowed to play at a place that has a sign that says no blacks. You have to love the power of his intellect that he shows through an action like that.

Miles Davis said, “knowledge is freedom and ignorance is slavery.” If that is true then he played the system with his free expressions out of his horn that he performed before the face of his oppressors, when he jassed them by pretending he was the stigma that they already portrayed him to be.

Another thing I appreciated was his talking about the experiences he had studying at Julliard. Davis took readers back to an experience at school where a white professor told the class that the reason black people played the blues was because they were poor and had to pick cotton and because they were so sad at that situation, they played the blues and that is where the blues came from. Dizzy immediately rose his hand and said, my father is rich and a dentist and we don’t pick cotton and I play the blues. The teacher was left, green in the face. Shortly after that, Davis quit Julliard because he felt the teachers did not know anything and he was mad and embarrassed at their prejudice, though he received much technical knowledge of music from this school, he got real musical tutelage from Dizzy and Bird. Other influences he had were Clark Terry and Thelonious Monk. He also loved Billie Holiday because he felt she was so talented and very good at improvising and making the music her own.

I am enjoying reading about the life he lived and his crossing paths with the jazz greats that most of us are only privileged to know through the legacies they have left behind.  But I am finding it even more cool the way he thought. He really was a very intelligent person and the more I read, the more I respect him as a black man in America, a musician and a person who was very self-conscious about who he was and what he was dealing with in the prejudiced society which he lived.

I will warn readers who are light-hearted. This book contains much profanity. He doesn’t hold back. I can say that every third sentence features a curse word. But it makes the book more meaningful and that is what I appreciate about this book. Davis is real and comes from a sincere place. Miles: The Autobiography is an awesome read.

Disclaimer: I am not a seller, manufacturer or distributor of this book nor will I receive compensation for mentioning the title, author or for discussing 
anything in regards to this book. I am simply a book lover and jazz lover sharing information for other readers interested in reading about a jazz great. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Sounds of the Earth Flow Through His Instrument

The Sounds of the Earth Flow 
Through His Instrument
by Stephanie Jeannot (c) 2016

The sounds of the earth flow through his instrument with freedom and democracy live there. And if I knew nothing about identity before, I realized in the few minutes that I was walking around Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA and viewing all the contentions about language, how important it is. I guess that is something we already know right! We have language. We use it and so it goes. Free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

And when you think about how much power lies in the tongue, it makes sense. You can persuade people. You say something and you change the mind. You channel thoughts to the listener or receiver of your word and suddenly that vehicle transported moves them.

They either love your expressions or they hate it.  If you think about Jazz and how it was first a tool that helped to gain black folks an identity, then you know what I am talking about. If it is good, it whets the appetite of the listener wanting to partake in it. Hence, the world being influenced and jazz becoming such a worldwide phenomenon since the day it was discovered in Jim Crow New Orleans by cornetist, Charles “King Buddy” Bolden.  If they love it, it is immortalized and forever remains a part of the known history.

If they hated it, the same applies but the expressions released become obscured by the fog and instead seen as a threat to society. As was jazz, seen as primitive nonsense because of it being free from Western restraints, given its free-naturedness, African polyrhythms and use of accidentals. 

Another example are misnomers used against people for being alien to the ways of thinking that summarize a culture. Even in today’s society when a hospital can publish in their brochures, "all except for Haitians" or a presidential candidate can say something like, "I'd like to thank the women for coming out of their kitchens to campaign for me." Wounding words that are part of free speech show the power of language. Yet, at most, things like this against a person’s identity are often forgotten. We rather argue and bicker within about someone being too light-skinned to play a role of their musical hero as opposed  to our young men who would stand on line over night for a pair of expensive sneakers or Iphones but wouldn't stand in line to vote in a presidential election. I guess when they say "sleep never felt so good," from without, Trump might be seeing this as truth, with every inch he grows closer to that title of President. 

When looking at the way things are and the societal values at full value, sometimes you need to question. What did he say? Why are they complaining about? How is it possible that he can say whatever prejudice about any culture and is winning campaigns and endorsements? Why isn’t this white person who was proven as the killer to that black man not in prison but that black man's case that was dismissed and never proven is still opened over a decade later and is still being investigated? When will these inequalities ever change? How long? What happened to Sandra Bland? Language as politics! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Breaking Hold (A Poem)

Breaking Hold
By Stephanie Jeannot © 2016

Climbing to get there was a trip.
All the time in space I had to skip.
Ratting at windows in the heat of the day.
Running through breezes in my crawling play.
Cradled in the arms of experience to start.
A spring the groundhog saw; early March.
And here we are in the fifties walking out unlayered.
You'd think my retirement from forever would be a persuader.
To live skipping through parks breaking hold of my mom’s hand.
To write up this schedule of a life that I plan.
Whipped enough by the rulers of the nuns at day school.
Still with a float around my waist in a mystery pool.
International woman's day they say it is right now.
Winging it to the whereabouts of beyond my cooing sounds.
So young you look they say; aging well I guess. It is.
And on the present markings of time on which I bid,
for a chance to have it; life! And live it in a stream.
Ragtime calls and I run to catch the cones of dreams and ice cream.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Seasons of Our Love Story

The Seasons of Our Love Story
by Stephanie Jeannot (c) 2016

Collage by Melodiaz Creations

The sound of his trumpet dawned into my day like the sparkle of the morning sun of spring, in full armor. He had the humble gait of a quality man and a sterling character; a knight under a morion. His sternum was as firm as the bark of an oak tree. His pomp affected my galaxy. His style of humor was amazing. Emotions blossomed through our conversation and that was the moment when I realized I needed to be a part of his earth.

He was blessed with mental endowments that tickled my every orifice. Beautiful were his luminous theories about life. He embraced each new idea with stoic calm and had this undeniable uniqueness that was so charming, anyone who graced his presence could easily be esteemed dearly by it. He bolstered influence and so much on me that I started yearning for the glow of his authority in my life.

I was so tempted to navigate his sea as were my rapacious opponents focusing their interest in his direction. Yet despite the parts of me that needed correcting coupled with all the broads trying to Noble block, he still decided to wrap his chivalry around me and I became the lady of his thoughts. I attracted the intimacy of our climates and as one, we began striding forward like a carnival of flames; Hot; on the path of progress together.

Artwork by Ricardo Jean

And the story continued rapidly. We propelled forward with little resistance to the wades of shallow water and so desirous of his song and dance, I plunge right in to the bosom of his ocean. I was deeply moved and inspired when he added my lyric to his diurnal rhythm. In the essence of our adventure, he never failed to continue on in his noble ways and honored me as his Queen. We dueted together like Bill and Claire Huxtable. He was always treating me to cookery of the finest foods of his preparing and putting his foot in it. Flowers regularly ringed my door fashioned in the sexiest vase. 

Walks through the park became our thing and we remained a constant. He refreshed my weary body of water that had been flowing melodiously all these years unceasingly. His words like herbage to my hungry heart. We were like peas in a pod. We rolled like birds of a feather. And so became the penetralia of our summer romance. I thanked God for his viscera acknowledging his earthly matter as a gift because even in our declivities, he remained regal. It was such a beautiful thing.That is until the night of our fall, when everything changed. 

Photo captured by Stephanie Jeannot

It seemed so out of place when I was met with his explosive temper that fell deep on my ears like the thump of a bass string. Was I breathing in a nightmare or was this reality in full effect? He was behaving so strangely.  Things started getting cold and our union was crippled by anger. All the intelligent energy I was once magnetized by suddenly released its grasp. Our ongoing love story became a paragraph of doubt and questions. The sweet light of us, was being taken over by darkness. Call it a twist of fortune or flagrant dishonor. He started inculcating ideas my way about whom I was and who I wasn’t. Blaming! Accusing! Cursing! Making bold as brass statements I never expected from him. He acted almost like a bully sneering at a canaille with a gee whiz attitude. Tears beyond my control dampened the atmosphere. Our bond was suddenly in jeopardy and our relations ended in crass ignorance; a life altering wrinkle in time that I will never forget.

I walked out of the mess with a bruised heart after I found out that he was not the man that he purported himself to be. The moon, with its faint light, escorted me out of the duet and solo I left him with the pieces of my heart scattering the terraqueous globe. He is the threshold of my past; a past that left my museum of a mind embedded with a gallery of pictures. He was the spice that made my life savory and without him, I became bland. But that was only a portion of my quarto that dusked into the end of that chapter of my life like the shadow of the winter night moon. As they say, seasons change! And so begins a new chapter.