Monday, February 8, 2016

Maurice White 1941-2016 "It's All About Love"

Maurice White ,74, the founder of Earth Wind & Fire passed away on February 4th. His legacy will
forever be one of love and spiritual uplifting and enlightenment through music.
White born in Memphis, TN was a famous drummer long before he created EW&F. He was a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio (RLT) and played on songs for Etta James, the Impressions and toured with the Dells. He left the RLT in 1969 and formed the band we now know as EW&F shortly thereafter.
The music White produced for EW&F was a mixture of jazz, soul, R&B, infused with African and
Latin rhythms, gospel and the Phoenix Horns. The band sold over 90 million records the old fashioned way, one fan at a time.

 Photo Credit: Google Images

An EW&F concert was always a diverse multicultural event which was/is a testament to the body of
work White created. During the big budget concert heyday EW&F shows featured theatrics that were
million dollar productions and delivered a stage show that was beyond compare. White’s brother
Verdine levitated while playing his guitar, the drummer spinning around never missing a beat, the
whole group getting into a giant pyramid that rose high in the air, broke into pieces and when the
smoke cleared they were standing linked arm-in-arm in front of you on stage. Audiences went crazy.
There was always an encore, there had to be.
White stopped touring in 1994 citing the rigors of being on the road. In 2000 he announced he had
Parkinson's Disease and made few public appearances thereafter but remained active behind the
Faith, hope and love are the foundations upon which all human beings thrive and White managed to
capture that musically. He is the recipient of 6 Grammy Awards, a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame an NAACP and BET Award winner. He also produced music for the Emotions, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond and Cher. EW&F was the band tapped to play the White House after President Obama was elected and held his first social event.
Heaven has just gotten another bandleader. The angels are in for quite a treat. Oh what music they will be making now!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

George Clinton - King of Funk

NEW HAVEN - Christmas came early for P-Funk fans as George Clinton made a rare December appearance at Toad's Place. For those in the know he traditionally performs there in February so this was a nice surprise. There are not many performers his age still able to pack a house and keep fans on the dance floor for hours - non-stop. No polite clapping here, make no mistake, this is indeed a party, old school style.

At 74 years young Mr. Clinton has no trouble getting the party started. From the first drum beats to the last ear splitting guitar solo he is right there having fun right along with the rest of us. Fueled no doubt by the love he gets from the crowd, the infectious music and frequent hits of weed that are passed up to him on stage. Yes, he is still up to his old tricks.

An informal poll of concert goers indicated that for many this is their 5th, 6th or 7th time seeing him. For Matt, 24, a clean cut white kid this was his first experience. He said "My brother gave me one of his albums when I was 15 and said I would understand when I got older." For 37 year old Ing, an Asian women this was her second time seeing Clinton, the first time was in Oxford, England. Rarely in the times we live in can an assortment of very different people come together and just party. Black, white, old, young, hippies, hipsters, old school revolutionaries in their dashikis along with heavily tattooed bikers wearing their respective colors. A modern day Woodstock. Unlike many concerts with such diverse groupings there is no hint of violence in the air. The only objective is to get funked up.
George Clinton Exits Toad's Place - Photo Credit Jocelyne Hudson-Brown
With the exception of a few obviously seasoned musicians the rest of the funkateers on stage get younger and younger each year, yet the quality of the music never changes. What makes Clinton so special is that he is one of the few African-American musicians still standing that played a key part in most all areas of modern music as we know it. From Doo-Wop, to Jazz, to Soul, R&B, Hip-Hop, Grunge and Rock & Roll he has covered them all, with great success. He is also the mastermind of the genre of music called "P-Funk" which seems to have no generational boundaries.

He is the recipient of many awards including an NAACP Image award, a Grammy, and an MTV music video award. Clinton is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2012 was awarded a Honorary Doctorate of Music from the Berklee School of Music.  His music is featured in movies and TV commercials for Apple computers.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Covered the POTUS in Bridgeport. Saw many friends, could not get to you. Much love to Inquiring News for the assignments, it don’t get bigger or better than Mr. & Mrs. Obama in a 72 hour period.

So anyway, I’m in the “media “ section, doing my thing along with soaking up all the history, happy, happy. Then this b**** from general market media says to me “only the media are allowed in here”.
Well you could have knocked my down with a feather. Without missing a beat in my nice girl voice I said, “the secret service does not need your help” and kept on doing my thing.

Did it sting? You damn right it did. Sh*t, I had to show credentials, get thru 4 check points and a pat down to get behind that velvet rope. I’m an award-winning journalist, with editorials seen on Larry King Live, in the New York Post, our CT newspapers and many more. I went to Ground Zero, I am an Army Veteran. I have a Masters Degree. Somehow to her I did not belong there, seemed out of place…

Of course at the end of the event she apologized. She said “Sorry, I thought…” Save it!

Like those who came before me I’ll take it. I am a girl from Bridgeport, born without civil rights. It’s the least I can do. Covering “our” African-American President and First Lady, writing for an African-American newspaper for African-American people are among the high points of my African-American life.

Let’s keep knocking a hole in that glass ceiling. Black history is made everyday!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

An Editorial - “Our” President Visits

By the time you read this article Election Day 2014 will have passed. The campaigns were hard fought with each side bringing in the heavy hitters to champion their respective causes. I hope you voted and your candidate won.

Without a doubt the loftiest of those heavy hitters was President Barack Obama. President Obama’s visit to Central High School in Bridgeport fired up the party faithful and will no-doubt inspire countless more to vote in the future. But to many seeing the President meant a lot more than that.

President Obama is living proof that when you tell your child that he/she could be president one day it can really happen. Seeing him is proof that the work done by the Urban League, the NAACP, the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, along with countless others whose names we will never know was not in vain. That the work you are doing today really means something!

I have been to both of President Obama’s inaugurations and have reported on his two recent visits to Connecticut (along with the First Lady). Our people came out in droves for each event, the turnouts unprecedented. The reaction of the people is beyond enthusiastic. Folks become overwhelmed by emotion seeing the Obama’s in person. In my articles “Rock Star” is the only noun/adjective that came close expressing to Inquiring News readers what I have observed. Recall the best concert you’ve ever been to. Remember the crowd going absolutely crazy? It is unbelievable! That’s the reaction every time President Obama hits the stage. He means so much to so many.

If all of us living today get to see another African-American elected President of the United States of America just know that the Second Coming would probably happen shortly thereafter.  So lets enjoy these this time with “our” President and First Lady.  Live by some of the examples they have set. Enjoy and be empowered by this very special time in history that God has blessed us to bear witness to!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mrs. Obama Comes to Town

NEW HAVEN – First Lady Michelle Obama came to town to give her blessings to Gov. Dan Malloy and leading Democrats running in highly contested races that were to be decided on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 4th.

Mrs. Obama entered the Wilbur Cross High School auditorium to a rousing ovation. The kind usually reserved for rock stars. Her appeal is evident. A woman of power and influence unparalleled and yet she has the presence of every women. Her affect is as easy as her smile. She seems genuine and is very much on point with her message. Speaking over a sprinkling of hecklers here and there (back to that in a bit) she remained unfazed.

“So if there’s anybody here who is thinking that their vote doesn’t matter, if there’s anybody here who knows someone who thinks that voting just isn’t worth their time, if you know young people who are sitting on the couch, I want you to think we cannot afford to miss out on a single vote in this election -- not one.  This is real.  Think about your passions.  Think about the things you care about. “ said the First Lady. “Vote”.

State Treasurer Denise Nappier who was also running for office was there supporting her party peers. Although she did not address the crowd in an exclusive interview with Inquiring News she called the First Lady’s visit “inspiring”.  “Her visit energizes the party faithful”, says Nappier, “and the publicity surrounding her visit reminds others that election day is near. She is also a wonderful inspiration to young girls, letting them know they can come from humble beginnings like she did and succeed.

About 2,000 people from around the state attended the invite only rally on a lovely fall day. Being in the orbit of the wife of the most powerful man on earth is an
eye-opening once in a life-time experience. It requires patience, standing for hours, and being on your best behavior.

Along with the people in a crowded line that went down the street around the corner and then stretched as far as the eye could see was a heavy police presence, secret service agents, bomb sniffing attack dogs, snipers on the roof , many security check points Once granted entre, with a pat down for good measure, you are on lock down when enter the building and told with very firm yet friendly direction where to go.  Should you deviate two steps someone is right there (quite startling) with that very firm yet friendly direction.

Something is in air, it tingles. Everyone is on high alert. What is about to take place few Americans bear witness to.  First Lady Michelle Obama is now talking directly to you. She is walking through the crown shaking hands, posing for selfies. Then, just like that, it’s over.

At the end of a very long day, everyone is drained, but, it was all well worth this brush with history as we may never pass this way again in our lifetime.

Writers Note: Regarding hecklers. The ones who interrupted the First Lady (and no other speaker) in an effort to make a case, about whatever. Just so you know, your message went unheard. You were being disrespectful, rude and you looked foolish. You had no right to crash/infiltrate somebody else’s party with your nonsense.  To utilize a quote from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christy (who was also heckled last week) “Sit down and shut up!”

Friday, June 13, 2014

John Lewis – “Get in Trouble”

East Hartford - Famed civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis was honored at a reception hosted by fellow Congressman John Larson at Goodwin College. Lewis traveled to Connecticut to give the commencement address at the school.

John Lewis is a one of the few remaining old school civil right leaders still available to teach the ways that will keep the movement alive for the next crop of great leaders. Don’t be mislead by his dignified and charming grandfatherly manor. There is still plenty of fire left in this man.

“It is good to be here to see all of the changes that have occurred in America during the past 50 years, but we still have a way to go. There are forces in America today that want to take us back to another time. We can’t go back, we won’t go back.”

Interviewing Congressman Lewis
Photo by Merle Davis

His advice for future leaders? “They must get out there and push and pull and help make this country and the world community a better place. They have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate to speak up, to speak out and find a way to get in the way. What I call good trouble, necessary trouble.” The kind of trouble Lewis has gotten into routinely for decades trying to help the cause. “I’ve been arrested about 40 times. I’ll probably get arrested some more.” he says with pride. 

Lewis is a man who has been beaten and jailed trying to make a change. “Public service is a calling, a lot of people put up with a lot of stuff. I don’t get tired, I don’t get weary. I feel like I’ve been blessed. I feel I have an obligation to help others.”

He called Congressman John Larson “A friend, a brother.” He praised the leadership efforts of Goodwin College for helping young people grow up to be good citizens. 

Goodwin College gave Lewis a new title “Dr. John Lewis” by conferred a him with a doctorial degree.  “It’s a happy day.” he said.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Ladies “Know Your Value”


Photo Credit: Merle Davis

HARTFORD, CT – The first “Know Your Value” conference lived up to all expectations with the mission to inspire “Women Taking It to the Next Level”. Over 300 women packed the Hartford Marriot for an afternoon of empowerment.

One of the conference highlights (there were many) was the “conversation with Gayle King” and that is exactly what it was. King was bright, bubbly and very real in every aspect of her chat. She clearly has an ability to identify with every woman because that is exactly who she is, albeit a very successful one.

King has plenty of history in Hartford. In her own words, “I got married here, I had kids here, I got a divorce here.” For 18 years she was a familiar face to TV viewers as a news anchor at WFSB. She recalls her time in Hartford fondly and still comes to the area regularly. She stayed connected to many of the same folks she had relationships with early on.

She proudly shared her age with the audience, 59. “I feel great.” she says. “I feel that when you get to whatever age you are and you feel good about yourself, you look good, you should shout it from the rooftop.”

King divulged some advise Maya Angelou gave her about success. “Success is liking who you are, liking what you do and liking how you do it. Also, success is one step closer to women’s liberation.”

Do you want to know what successful women do? According to King, “Put one step in front of the other, do the work, be persistent.” She also gets up at 3:30 in the morning!

Melissa Crawford from Bloomfield was happy to have attended the conference she said, “I have a new position at my job and this is going to empower me to do the things I need to do to go even further.”

Writer’s Note: The “Know Your Value” conference held it’s opening session on the same day as the close of the history making career of Barbara Walters. Walters’ is a television broadcast pioneer who has endured it all. She was the “first” which is never easy. Male co-anchors did not feel woman were capable of delivering the news, some were openly hostile. The way she spoke and the way she looked was the punch line of jokes for decades. She never gave in, she never gave up. Clearly, she “knew her value”.