In My Write Mind
***As you know, March is Women's History Month. Throughout this month, please look out for open letters that celebrate the female. This is the first of a series.***
WILL SALUTES WOMEN
Part One--The Fact Is...
It's me. Will. We met last year in Los Angeles during the Artist Empowerment Coalition Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton. Do you remember? I hope so. Because what I said to you then, I say to you now. Thank you.
That smile you gave after I uttered those two words made me know that you were appreciative. The smile you put on my face while listening to your golden voice hopefully makes you know how appreciative I am. Appreciative not just because its good music. No, appreciative because of the way you ply your craft, the way you put your foot into each note. That passion. That power. That soul. It's what's missing from most music today. We need that if music is going to last.
We need you.
I was thinking last night, how would I describe your style? Is it rhythm and blues? No way. Never would I compare you to the legions of lightweights that have flooded the R&B arena. Some have had the nerve to compare you to the "happy" Mary J. Blige. Not me. Mary succeeded when she was depressed because millions of listeners could identify with her pain, with her struggle to overcome. Mary was more of a symbol than an artist. When she said that she wasn't gon' cry, there were people throughout the world who sure as hell weren't gonna shed a tear. Once she became happy, there wasn't much to identify with anymore. Sure, she celebrates love and all that comes with it these days. And you can HEAR that she's happy. You just can't FEEL it. In your soul.
And that's the difference.
When you say that you're happy, that you're in love, people FEEL it. You communicate it and effuse it. It oozes out of your mouth and reaches everyone in your presence. Hits them right in the pits of their stomachs. In their souls. Makes them believe that things will get bedda at home. Makes them say they're not afraid. Makes them want to love.
Are you neo-soul, where you've been pigeonholed by mainstream media? Hellus nous. Too deep for that. That would imply that your sound is new, which it definitely isn't. Actually, I think you're just plain Soul. Soul like Phyllis Hyman was Soul. Like Chaka Khan is Soul. Like Aretha Franklin is Soul. That gut-wrenching Phyllis style; that powerful Aretha style; that strong Chaka style. That old soul. Just like you, when those divas sang, you had no choice as to what to believe. They set the agendas during those three-minute exercises in love and pain that we were blessed to witness. And you're following in their paths. Sure, it's a long walk...but slowly, surely, you will reach their remarkable heights. It's inevitable.
We need you to.
I told you when we met that Black men across the globe love you. Of course you smiled when I said it, but seriously...it's true. It's been a while since we've been called kings. Been a while since we've been able to soak in those words like a love rain; been a while since men have been given that spring summer feeling that comes with praise. It's been a minute since we've been reminded of how beautifully human we are, how important our sisters are, about the need to take care of them and not take advantage of them. You make us want our sisters to say, 'He Loves Me'. Your voice, your passion, your gift has helped us realize that we are gifted. And every now and then, that crosses my mind. And I smile.
You see, Jill, I wrote this letter because, last night, while watching you perform, I was reminded of how important music is to the world. How important you are to music. There are so many different forms and fashions and styles and sounds out there. So many words and phrases and notes and rhythms. So many ways to make music.
The way you do it...is the way it's supposed to be done. Your sound is unflitered. Nothing getting in the way. And for that--for the volumes of words and sounds you continue to produce--I'm forever grateful. For making folks believe that love isn't a curse word, that people are supposed to stay in love, that's it's not like crazy for love to last--I thank you. Sista, you give the music world a good name. A world that--with you in it-- can last indefinitely.
We need music. We need it to last. Jill, the fact is...we need you.
Yours in music,
scribbled by Will at 3/05/2005 10:32:00 AM
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I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. (Joan Didion)
The Write One
Will. Lefty. Since Summer 1971. Over the next six months, I'll be saying some hellos, some goodbyes. Living, laughing, growing. Don't.miss.a.word.
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