“I have the best family and friends ever,” no truer words have ever been spoken.
Today, is the last day of Black History Month. Today marks the culmination of a push across America to squeeze in as much information into the minds of those who will listen about the contributions of black people in America. While today signifies the end of the collective focus, spanning various races, it does not signify the end of the cycle to educate, highlight and uncover facts that need not be ignored.
But that’s not why I’m here.
I could go on and on about the lack of teaching when it comes to black history.
I had a different blog post planned for today but then The Queen gained her angel wings yesterday and everything changed.
I wish I could remember exactly when I knew she was embodying a spirit that we had never seen and would never see again. I can remember, as a child, my grandmother would play some of her hits on the record player. She always loved listening to artist with very distinct voices. Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Louise Franklin immediately come to mind when that category is brought up.
Yesterday, like a lot of you, I spent the day listening to The Queen’s enormously long list of hit songs. From gospel classics to movie tunes to commands of respect, I sang loudly while also marveling at her even longer list of accomplishments.
First woman inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame
Over 75 million records sold worldwide
112 charted Billboard singles – making her the most charted female artist of all time
Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Kennedy Center honoree
Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient
Street named after her in her hometown of Detroit
And one of my favorite accolades, Civil Rights Activist, which many are oblivious to. I am not going to lay that out for you. Google it cause you need to know. You need to know your history and if you do not share in this rich melanated skin tone that I have you can still Google it because you need to know Our history.
Update: As of this afternoon, ESPN has acknowledged the mistake and is working to inform all powers that be on their shows and various platforms that Andre is the person in the video. Thank you for making the correction, ESPN!
Last night, I was happily settled into my Monday night routine. I was comfortable in my onesie, the tv was on ESPN Monday Night Countdown and I was chatting with my mother about the day’s events. We were bother eagerly awaiting our favorite segment, C’mon Man!
I am sure you came here today thinking I would have a post about the latest happenings in the NFL since my post last week. While I do have solid thoughts about those situations and some of the commentary I heard over the weekend, I have no desire to write about it. I am all tapped out with the controversies. Right now. Instead, you will get my thoughts about a topic that I have never lended my words to on The Korner: MUSIC.
Those that know me well know that I am all about old school music. Music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s with a few newer songs sprinkled in. I grew up on old school music. I have vivid memories of riding in the car with my mother listening to ConFunkShun, The Jackson 5, The Commodores, Sly & The Family Stone, The Temptations, KC & The Sunshine Band, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, and the list goes on and on. I have vivid memories of my grandma sitting in her living room with “We Are the World” playing on the record player as she tapped her foot to the beat of the music. I have vivid memories of gathering with the family around the television to watch MJ debut his newest video on primetime television. I am talking about 8:30pm on a Thursday. That kind of primetime.
I love music! On my iPod you can find Chris Tomlin, Bon Jovi, The Notorious B.I.G., Backstreet Boys, Usher, TLC, Metallica, Kirk Franklin, Justin Timberlake, Jodeci, Tye Tribbett, MC Hammer, The Mississippi Mass Choir, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and the list goes on and on and on. However, what you will not find is music from artists who came out let’s say ummmm 2007 or later except for Rapsody, Bruno Mars & Justin Bieber. Hey! I love “Baby”, “One Time” and “As Long As You Love Me” plus The Biebs is talented. And if you are not up on Rapsody then you need to make that a priority to do so. I do not know what happened but today’s selection of newer artists is less than stellar. Now there are some newer artists, in addition to the Biebs, that are very talented: Adele, Imagine Dragons, Kings of Leon, Lupe, to name a few. However, the quality of music as a whole, in my opinion, lands somewhere between wonk, eh and booooo.
Due to my love of old school, you can imagine how excited I was to be attending Funk Fest in Charlotte this weekend. The lineup was one of the craziest I had ever seen put together: Salt n Pepa, Fantasia, Doug E. Fresh, B.O.B., OutKast, Olivia, 95 South/69 Boyz, 112, War, The Roots, Ice Cube & LL Cool J. Yes people. This all took place in ONE location. On ONE stage. You cannot get much better than this.
Friday evening started with a road trip to Charlotte with my girls that soon turned into a night that we would never forget. The one thing about shows like this is that theyare long, typically outside and will go on rain or shine. Oh and September in North Carolina, you know that humidity was on scorch. So we arrived at the venue, having missed Salt n Pepa(bummer but I was glad I got to see them a few years ago) to find thousands of people mingling around the fairgrounds where Funk Fest was being held. We quickly all settled into our seats to get ready for the night to remember. I was excited to see Fantasia whom I had never seen perform. I follow her on Instagram and I have been thrilled to see the progress she has seemingly been making in her personal life. She looks amazing! Fantasia is high energy and despite the heat and humidity she gave us her all as she took us through her catalog of hits. She danced, jigged and took off her shoes, ala Ms. Patti. I truly enjoyed her showmanship and definitely want to see her again.
After her, the man I cannot get enough of was up next: the legendary Doug E. Fresh. If you have NEVER seen him perform, then you need to put that on your bucket list. “The Entertainer/The Human Beatbox” gets the party started like no one else in the biz. I have seen Doug E. at least six times and I am never disappointed. He had the crowd up on its feet from beginning to end. We all rapped along to “The Show,” “La Di Da Di,” and “Freaks” which featured surprise guest Lil’ Vicious. That song took me all the way back to my middle school days. I am always amazed by the skill that is beat boxing. It is so intricate and of course, I cannot do it so I am fascinated with people who can. Just when I thought I could not respect the art more than I already do, Doug E. Fresh pulled a trick out of his hat so dope that I have been YouTubing to see if I can find a clip of him doing it. As he was closing out his set, he went into a beat box that lasted literally four minutes or more. He beat boxed the same beat taking very minimal breaths. I was mesmerized. What I was witnessing was mindblowing. I have never seen anything like that in my life. The man exerted so much energy that he beatboxed himself into a sweat as he got down on one knee just to finish. One of the craziest things I have ever seen! And then he “Dougied.”
Of course, everyone was hyped after witnessing greatness but it would not last long. We were soon told that we had to seek shelter due to an approaching thunderstorm. Everyone quickly hurried into the exhibit halls to wait out the storm that took almost an hour and a half to pass. Soon we were able to return and anxiously await the arrival of Big Boi and the man known as 3Stacks, to grace the stage. Are you wondering why I did not mention B.O.B.? Well he is one of those new artists whom I do not listen to. I tried to give him a chance but his music sounded like everything else I have heard from the majority of these new artists. A bunch of fluff.
After waiting in the heat and the rain, it was finally time to see the group that put Atlanta on the map: OutKast. I had the pleasure of seeing Outkast in 1998, shortly after their release of their third album, “Aquemini.” However, to get a chance to see them again, after 20 years in the biz and after all the ups and downs the group had been through was enough to make me do a cartwheel. From the time they stepped on the stage and their PHENOMENAL band lead us into the outerspace intro beat to “Bombs Over Baghdad,”, the energy level was through the sky. They set the tone for their performance from the beginning as they took us on a trip down memory lane to the house of nostalgia with an array of hits such as “Ms. Jackson,” “Skew It On The Bar-B,” “Southernplayalistic,” “Hey Ya,” “Roses,” “The Way You Move,” and one of my all time faves, “Aquemini.” And when they paid respects to their dear friend, the late Pimp C, by performing the classic banger, “International Players Anthem” they sent the crowd into an unexpected frenzy. The layout of hits was delivered just right as both Big Boi and Andre each did short solo sets that highlighted their creative geniuses that were evidenced on the Grammy award-winning “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” There had been talk, even recently from Andre himself, about how he gets nothing out of performing. Even if that was the case, on this particular night it was anything but noticeable as he smiled and laughed continuously throughout their set. The interactions between him and Big Boi was like watching old friends/family pick up right where they left off. As we all stood in the rain, singing and rapping loudly, I smiled. I was reminded that this is what life was all about. Priceless moments.
The next day proved to be just as exciting as the day before. However, with all the hype that has surrounded OutKast’s return to the stage, their performance was hard to top. I enjoyed seeing War. They are one of those groups that I grew up listening to with my mom. At almost 70 years old, those men still put on a show that will put a lot of young acts to shame. Following them was a group that was sure to receive some respect from them: The Roots. As a huge fan of Jimmy Fallon, I have fallen more and more in love with the talent of The Roots. I have loosely followed them for years but seeing them perform night after night first on Late Night and now on The Tonight Show, my level of respect for their craft is heightened. They are crazy talented! I could not get enough of their musical intricacies. They are definitely in the upper echelon when it comes to bands.
Last year, I saw both Ice Cube and LL Cool J perform during the Kings of the Mic tour so I knew to expect performances that were energized and full of hits. Neither disappointed. Well, LL did but it was not his fault. Wait, Cube did too because he did not do any NWA stuff like he did last year. I was ready to rap “Straight Out of Compton” like I was straight out of Compton. Unfortunately, right before LL’s set started it started to rain again. Just like the night before, most people did not care. A little rain never hurt anyone. Plus this is LL we are talking about. He has hits for days. Well as much as LL wanted to perform his whole set, the powers that be made him cut it short(he only performed 30 minutes of his hour and a half set) because of how much rain was on the stage and they were concerned for his safety. I get it. I really do. However, between Friday and Saturday night the powers that be should have been able to rectify that situation in the event that it rained, again. We stood out in a baby monsoon at times to watch OutKast perform and you mean to tell me that you could not figure out a way to let LL continue performing even though it was no longer raining? Shaking my head.
As you can see, despite the heat, humidity, rain, lightning and thunder, I had an absolute ball! One of the best concerts I have been to. A collection of artists that have stood the test of time and can still deliver performances that are worthy of witnessing again. I thoroughly enjoyed every performance. However, I have to say seeing OutKast after so many years of wishing they would get back together was everything I had hoped it would be. Although their set was an hour and a half, it was too short. I wanted more! It has been a loooooong eight years between their last album and this performance. Add this OutKast high to my New Edition high that I am still on and you have a Kassie that will be floating in the clouds for a loooong time.
I feel sorry for the kids that are growing up these days thinking what these new artists are putting out is music. Many will scream that I am getting old because I say that. My rebuttal is that it has nothing to do with my age and everything to do with the quality or lack thereof of talent, diversity and creativity. There is not one artist, other than maybe Adele, that this generation can honestly say will be able to sell out shows 20 years from now. Not one! Sad state of affairs.
Well, at least they have the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s if they want to learn to appreciate REAL music. Enjoy youngins!
Every once and a while, something happens outside of the sports world that causes me to want to write. Last night was no exception.
For years I have loosely tuned in to the Academy Awards. I have to stay in the know although I cannot remember who won Best Picture last year. I love to watch the red carpet footage. The dresses. The shoes. The purses. The hair. The tuxedos. The bowties. I love it. I saw long dresses. Short dresses. Flowing hair. Cropped do’s. Slits. Splits. Midriffs. Louboutins. And a tuxedo short set. Only Pharrell.
This year, I actually watched the whole show sans a few minutes where I had to gather snacks, tend to my kitties and fix my lunch for the next day(today). I was excited about potentially seeing some actors and actresses I truly enjoy watching win the coveted Oscar. Plus I love Ellen Degeneres. Over the years, I have gained a new appreciation and respect for those in the film industry(thanks to my friend making waves in Hollywood…Hey Ceej!) who put in long hours on and off screen to perfect their craft. The Oscars are their night to shine and I feel the least I can do is tune to in, even loosely, to see them honored for their hard work.
I will admit. I have not seen any of the movies that were nominated for Best Picture. Matter fact, I do not believe I have seen any of the movies in which any of the actresses and actors were nominated for. *shrugs* I am not a movie goer. I go to the movies typically three to five times a year and that is being modest. Last year I went three times. Two years ago, I only went once. *shrugs* I am not a movie goer. However, that does not exempt me from appreciating all the talent that graced the seats of
The Dolby Theater in Hollywood last night. From Ellen’s having pizza delivered and taking the ultimate selfie to the stars to Pharrell shimmying with Meryl Streep to Robert Lopez winning an Oscar for the song “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen” to join the rare EGOT club(Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony) to Matthew McConaughey aka Jake Brigance acknowledging God for his success and throwing in an “Amen” in the process.
Yet, none of those were considered the highlight of the night. That honor belonged to Lupita Nyong’o’s, the starlet who stormed onto the scene and snatched every major award including Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Patsey in the Best Picture winning “12 Years A Slave.” The world’s new favorite darling sealed her domination of awards season by capturing the gold statue, that she ineptly entitled “Young Man”, and hearts of those who were not familiar with her before last night. Looking like Cinderella, ready for her ball(Oscars), Nyong’o was a walking picture of grace, poise and class as she jubilantly covered her face with her hands when her name was pronounced into history. And then came her speech. Powerful. Memorable. Emotional. It started with a quick thank you to the academy and then an ode to her character, “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own.” Her immediate gratitude to her character, before she thanked cast, crew and her families, is a testament to the class she personifies every time she graces a red carpet or sits down for an interview. As I watched her speak, with tears in my eyes, she spoke to my heart as she concluded her speech with a line that spoke to millions across the world, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that, no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”
On a night where movie star royalty was front and center, a newcomer who was born in Mexico and is of Kenyan descent stole the show. Her regalness, elegance and sheer beauty are captivating. However, that is not what stands out to me. What stands out is what she represents. In a society where the gold standard of beauty has for many years not resembled Nyong’o, she is just that. A gold standard. She exemplifies everything a woman should be. She exemplifies how a woman should carry herself at all times. She exemplifies going against the grain and embracing your God given features. She represents the essence, strength and determination that women all across the world display on a daily basis. She represents you. She represents me. She represents us.
Tonight, one of my favorite former SportsCenter anchors, Keith Olbermann will return to the ESPN airwaves. His new show “Olbermann” will debut on ESPN2 at 11pm. To say I am excited is an understatement.
The format of the show reminds me of Leno/Letterman/Fallon/Kimmel/Ferguson. The show will open with Olbermann taking 10 to 15 minutes to review 10 events making headlines in the sporting world. That will be followed by an interview with a notable sports “player” that has something to do with one of the stories he reviewed previously. Lastly, there will be a highlight reel of the day’s events. Definitely sounds like my kind of show.
I have enjoyed Olbermann on ESPN. I enjoyed him on ‘Countdown’ on MSNBC. I fully expect to enjoy him in his role.
By the way, I heard in the first week he is going to have Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning as guests. You know I will be tuned in for those shows!!!