Good Vibes | Music, Hope, and Monochrome Mayhem

I always want to talk about important subjects, but with hope. Music is supposed to heal people. — Fatoumata Diawara

At the beginning of the year, I thought I’d focus on developing my monochrome photography skills, but life got in the way. Before I pressed pause on that venture, though, I was able to coordinate and complete two “Monthly Monochrome Mayhem” swaps in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

Through the swaps, I made another photographer friend, Betty H., from the United Kingdom. She does a lot of concert photography, so she shared photos from a show at Birmingham Town Hall that featured Fatoumata Diawara and Staff Benda Bilili, singers from the continent of Africa.

Diawara is a Malian singer-song writer and actor whose music:

draws elements of jazz and funk into an exquisitely sparse contemporary folk sound – refracting the rocking rhythms and plaintive melodies of her ancestral Wassoulou tradition through an instinctive pop sensibility. At the centre of the music is Fatou’s warm, affecting voice, spare, rhythmical guitar playing and gorgeously melodic songs that draw powerfully on her own often troubled experience.  –from Fatoumata Diawara’s Facebook Page.

Diawara opened for Staff Benda Bilili, a group of disabled street musicians from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group consists of:

Four senior singer/guitarists sitting on spectacularly customized tricycles, occasionally dancing on the floor of the stage, arms raised in joyful supplication, are the core of the band, backed by a younger, all-acoustic, rhythm section pounding out tight beats. Over the top of this are weird, infectious guitar-like solos performed by a [young] prodigy on a one-string electric lute he designed and built himself out of a tin can. –from Staff Benda Bilili’s Facebook Page

The name of the group translates roughly to “see beyond [appearances].”

Betty says the musicians were “a joy to photograph.” I can tell! There’s so much energy in the photos that I can feel the good vibes.

The spark is even more apparent in the original color photos.

Aren’t the photos spectacular? Betty confessed that she frequently converts concert photographs to monochrome because “working around the choices of the lighting technicians” can be challenging. I see her point, but I love the mysterious aura of the color photos too.

Indie Week’s interview of Fatoumata Diawara outlines her philosophies of music and life. And if you have never heard this soulful singer, please take a listen to Fatou, her debut album.

And then, turn to the rhythmic fusion of soukous (influenced by rumba), rhythm and blues, and reggae found in the music of Staff Benda Bilili.

As Diawara points out, there’s a lot of difficulty in life. There’s also hope, joy, and laughter, which make the tough stuff bearable. I feel all of this in the music of Staff Benda Bilili and Fatoumata Diawara. Don’t you?

Until next time…

Finding Color with the Tiny One

“The Little Explorer”

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. –Oscar Wilde

The Southern magnolias are blooming and spring is breathing her last. Last week when we visited my cousin and her family, her daughter who is four, noticed me photographing the magnolias and the tiny purple flowers near the front door and made it her job to find all the remnants of color and flowers left in the garden.

So while the guys looked over a “fixer-upper” vintage Corvette, we searched for all the bits of color still hanging on in the garden. [Click images for a closer look].

We found pink in “once roses.”

 

Purple, always camera-ready.

 

Almost-missed yellow hiding out in all the green.

 

White hydrangeas hiding in the shade of trees in the front garden. And my favorite “unloved” flower, dandelions, in the back.

 

Green, of course–new holly berries and lettuce, one of the many leafy greens growing in their back garden.

 

Purplish/blue hydrangeas hiding against the back fence. [They look purplish here, but they really were more bluish “in real life.”]

And more purple from the lamb’s ears plant that I’m sure was some small animal’s feast.

We found a tiny green heart-shaped leaf.

And lots of colorful flowers on the little explorer’s skirt.

These photos aren’t so great. In our search for color, I simply followed directives. The tiny one was a taskmaster, so there was little time for composition and focus.

Just as we had exhausted color in the front yard, their neighbor’s dogs came charging at us full speed and barking ferociously. That was my favorite part of our adventure. Not! I stood shock-still in terror while the tiny one stood chatting away, oblivious to the danger the dogs posed.

It’s amazing how quickly things change. Just weeks ago their gardens–front and back–were exploding with color. I missed the hydrangeas and roses in full bloom, but I managed to capture the Japanese magnolias and apple blossoms.  I have yet to post the apple blossoms on the blog, but if you missed their gorgeous magnolia, click the link and take a look. They’re certainly a treat for the eyes and soul.

Wishing you a weekend full of color and light…

Be the Light!

My home office is a complete, utter mess. The books and papers are literally closing in on me. There is a narrow path from the door to the desk and my favorite thinking place–the window. Other than that, every space is covered with stacks of books and piles of paper.

At some point, I’ll spend a day or two getting things back in order. For now, I’m glad I kept the many beautiful works of art created by swap-bot and Love Notes pals separate from the madness–especially since I have a lot of “catch-up sharing” to do this summer.

Today, I’m sharing a couple of postcards that remind us of the [potential] role we play in the life of each person we encounter.

The first card came from Martha S. of Postcards in the Air.

“Be the Light.” Artwork by Martha S.

Martha’s cheerful watercolor urges us to “be a light in someone’s life.” Her work has been featured on Pics and Posts many times. My favorites are her autumn leaves and the über cute raccoon watercolor.  Be sure to check out her blog for more of her work and musings.

The card below, also a watercolor, came from Rae L. I hadn’t seen her in my mailbox in ages, so I was overjoyed to receive this pretty card.

“Flowers.” Artwork by Rae L.

Rae included a Mother Teresa quote with her flowers:

Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love. –Mother Teresa

I truly appreciate the messages of love and light. The world can be lonely, dark, and cold, so the work of light workers is critical. If you think you have very little to offer, remember, even the smallest flicker radiates tremendous light.

An Art Statement: Making a Mess, Restoring Order

As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.  –Calvin, Calvin and HobbesBill Watterson

I spent most of today sitting at my window in silence, untangling thoughts, and fighting icky feelings that were trying to take root. I needed to press pause on my ruminations, so–inspired by my many artist pals–I decided to pull out my long-neglected paint and brushes and make a mess.

Three postcard-sized pieces of “art” later, the ickiness kicked rocks. The works have two things in common–purple as a base color and “lack o’ skill.” I’m sharing them with you anyway because creating a masterpiece was not the point. Besides, my two biggest fans–my guys–like them and they encouraged me to post here on the blog.

Art is certainly not my forte, but I like Calvin’s artist statement [above], so I’ll claim it as my own. 🙂 Perhaps, I’ll add words [and/or photos] and send them out into the world.

If you’re feeling a bit out of sorts, pull out your paint or markers and make a mess. It’s amazing how order is restored through the creative chaos. It’s this reality that most likely prompted someone to substitute art for the word “music” in Berthold Auerbach’s quote and attribute it to Pablo Picasso: Music  “[Art] washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Be sure to make a healthy mess this week!