I found a pleasant surprise as I glanced at my phone just before ending my last class for the week (woohoo!)–a simple, heartwarming message from Kim B, my newest Love Notes pal:
I was praying for you and your sister in my garden.
She enclosed photos of her gorgeous sunflowers (click an image for a closer look]:
The red one!!! Heavenly!
According to a note she sent in July, Kim planted the seeds a little late this year, but as you can see, they’re blooming beautifully. At the end of this emotionally exhausting week they’re my brilliant reminders to continue “facing the sun”.
Her written message telling of praying in the garden has me singing a favorite hymn, “In the Garden.”
I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses:
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
The Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson, offers a powerful rendition that deserves a listen:
Be sure to take some time to pray and meditate in the garden this weekend. You’ll experience amazing joy and peace.
When I taught African American literature, blues artists Bessie Smith’s and Billie Holiday’s songs were key in deepening students’ understanding of the continuities of Black experience and literature and arts in America. I haven’t taught the literature since we moved to Northern Alabama, so their music is collecting dust. In fact, I think the collections are still in boxes.
A couple of days ago, I ran across a Billie Holiday postcard that I’ve had for quite some time–a familiar photo of Lady Day, with the signature gardenia in her hair.
Billie Holiday, c. 1936, Photograph by Robin Carson, from the Collection of Ole Brask
The sender’s note referenced listening to Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith days before sending the postcard. Interestingly, the day after rediscovering the postcard–yesterday, in fact–I received a Bessie Smith postcard from my postcard pal Connie F. Talk about coincidence!
Bessie Smith (1895-1937), Photograph courtesy of Michael Ochs Archives, Pomegranate Communications, Inc.
The music goddesses are telling me to take a moment for Bessie and Billie. They are the best medicine for the madness of the days ahead.
I’m having another super busy Monday, but it’s been weighing heavily on my heart to share the powerful message about children and homelessness my sister-friend Takiyah Franklin (Tk) recently recorded.
In sharing why she recorded the song, Tk writes:
The homeless crisis is getting worse . . . and while I want to see more action from [our] city [and state] officials, we the people have to act as well. I definitely don’t have the solution to the housing crisis, but I know I’m not so far removed from the realities of poverty to not care. Music is one way to raise awareness, so I choose to lift my voice as a tool for social justice.
In speaking specifically about the situation in Oakland, California, Tk reminds:
It is our duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society. It is our duty to hold local and state officials accountable for working with the community and the corporations taking over to find solutions to homelessness and poverty.
The song, called “Homeless Children,” is the result of the collaboration between Dan Zemelman (pianist and co-writer), Albert Greenberg (co-writer), Alberto Hernandez (engineer), Julie Wolf (producer), and Tk (vocal artist).
Click the image to listen to the song:
“Homeless Children” Recording. Photo by Pat Augsburger. Used by Permission.
For more information about childhood homelessness and to find ways you can help, see the following:
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below don’t bother me.
I’ve been singing The Drifter’s 1962 major hit, “Up on the Roof” for weeks now. I can’t get it out of my head! Why this random singing of a song that was written before I was born? The culprit is this postcard sent to me for a Liberate Your Art side swap:
“Rooftop in Apremont-sur-Allier” by Louise Mamet
The rooftop photo was captured by my blog pal Louise of Drops of Everything. Louise has such a unique perspective. I always enjoy her postcards and her blog.
This particular photo features the rooftop of an old home in the “adorable village” of Apremont-sur-Allier in France. I am really interested in architecture–I especially enjoy studying the similarities of architecture in different areas of the world–so this was the perfect selection for me.
Louise sent her postcard in an envelope and included a splendid postcard advertising an exhibit at the Grand Pressigny–La Femme dans la Préhistoire [Women in Prehistory]–a subject right up my alley. Now, I just have to figure out how to get to France by the end of November. 😉
La Femme dans la Préhistoire
She also included one of her business cards which is so perfect I can’t resist sharing it here.
Louise prefers postcards in envelopes, so when I sent a postcard to her I included a postcard reproduction of artist/illustrator/graphic novelist Eric Drooker’s “On the Roof” to prolong our visual conversation.
“On the Roof” by Eric Drooker
Up on the roof, up on a roof
Everything is alright, everything is alright
I didn’t realize when I sent the photo that I’d be introducing Louise to a new artist, so that was a bonus. And your bonus–the perfect song to end the week. Take a listen.
Today’s post was written by Takiyah Franklin/Takiyah Suhail, whom I usually refer to as “My Tk.” Takiyah is a former student, mentee, and research assistant with whom I’ve always shared a spiritual kinship. During her undergraduate years we ministered together–she through song, I through biblical teachings. Over the 10+ years since she graduated, our relationship has evolved and I consider her a spiritual sister. In January, I posted about Takiyah’s single, “My New Song,” which was inspired by the words of Howard Thurman, one of my favorite theologians. Today, Takiyah, talks about the song, shares the recently released video, a little about herself, her music, and her faith journey.
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Takiyah Suhail aka Takiyah Franklin. Photo Credit: Denna Bendall
I am excited to introduce myself and share “My New Song,” my recent single release. I am a singer/songwriter from Oakland, California and I have the pleasure of working with Rev. Andriette Earl, the founding minister of an amazing spiritual community, Heart and Soul Center of Light, a world-class teaching and empowerment ministry located in Oakland, CA.
Theologian Howard Thurman’s essay entitled “I Will Sing a New Song” inspired Rev. Earl and Erika Luckett, a renowned Emmy Award winning singer/songwriter, to write “My New Song.”
Here’s an excerpt from Thurman’s essay:
The old song of my spirit has wearied itself out. It has long ago been learned by heart so that now it repeats itself over and over, bringing no added joy to my days or lift to my spirit. It is a good song, measured to a rhythm to which I am bound by ties of habit and timidity of mind. The words belong to old experiences which once sprang fresh as water from a mountain crevice fed by melting snows. But my life has passed beyond to other levels where the old songs are meaningless. I demand of the old song that it meet the need of present urgencies. Also, I know that the work of the old song, perfect in its place, is not for the new demand!
I am blessed to have been chosen to deliver such an incredible life-shifting and affirmative song.
You can listen to “My New Song” and/or watch the music video on my website, Takiyah. Feel free to post the YouTube link for the music video everywhere: (https://youtu.be/m-hK_kvP010). The song is also available for purchase on all digital distribution music outlets: Search Takiyah “My New Song.”
I am a radical advocate of the transformative power of Love and it is my intention to use my music to encourage the conscious spiritual practice of being a Love Light. When I allowed the healing, transformative power of God’s Love to lead, guide, and direct my life, everything outside of Love steadily faded away. This is not an easy practice: it is radical and requires a lot of internal work.
I invite you to listen to my latest EP, Unfolding I Affirm, a brief collection of songs born out of breakthroughs of practicing faith through my life’s most difficult times. In my lowest points of being alone and raising three beautiful children, my faith in the Highest Power guided me to perfect Peace. I’m learning how to live a life filled with joy, love, and peace in the midst of mental and emotional challenges. I want to share my journey with you.
You can find me on Twitter or Instagram @blackstarworld.