Minnie Riperton Turns 69!



Photoshoot from 1975 in L.A. (credit Michael Ochs Archives)


Today marks the 69th birthday of daughter, mother, wife, songstress, and songwriter Minnie Riperton. Riperton passed on July 12th, 1979. She was 31 years old. Gone Too Soon! It has been 38 years since the multi-octave, Angelic voice that dwelled inside her was silenced forever.

We remember Minnie Riperton for her remarkable voice – a lyric coloratura soprano, which she used to set new vocal parameters in pop music. Classically trained in Opera, Riperton vocally backed artists such as Etta James and Stevie Wonder, and in her own career, she was able to subtly blend her agile opera styles into the soul and R&B music she sang.

Ultimately, she set the high note template for the likes of Mariah Carey and others in pop music.

Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1976. However, she continued recording, touring, was nominated for an American Music Award for favorite soul/R&B Female Artist, as well as became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society until her death 3 years later.

Minnie Riperton’s Legacy is rooted in her vocal Perfection and her ability to communicate the sentiments of a song to the masses like no other. Happy Birthday, Minnie Riperton!

AAMAM: The End Is For The Grown And Sexy! Part 30 of 30

Ok people we have come to the end of African American Music Appreciation Month or some of you may know it as Black Music Month (check out part 1 of 30 for more info). It’s been great. We started it off with James Brown and the relevance of his voice in a new era, listened to Milles Davis’ greatest recording ever, acknowledged the death of Ornette Coleman and how he change the sound of jazz, celebrated the life of BB King and my experience with him, we dedicated “We Shall Overcome” to the citizens of Charleston and the tragedy that took place there, and we jammed to the greatest hip hop group ever, the Fugees “Mona Lisa can I get a date on Friday and if you’re busy I wouldn’t mine taking Saturdaaaay aaaay  aaay  round up the posse fugee coming round the way . . .!” That was just to name a few of the great music experienced over the past 29 days. It’s ok to go back and check out what you missed.

AAMAM is a great time to celebrate the power of black music and the swaying force it has in black culture. It’s also a great time to remember those unique and soulful artist who created it and listen to their messages they addressed in American life as black artist.

So in the end, lets just listen to some thing nice and sweet! No troubling issues about society or a cultural point to be made. Just a nice and easy up tempo contemporary song about enduring love. Justsoulyouknow dedicates this song to AAMAM!chrisette-michele41


Take a listen to soul crooner Kem and my girl Chrisette Michele work it out on the duet “If It’s Love.” Grab your significant other, pick a part and sing along. Careful, this is for the grown and sexy! Ha!


AAMAM: The Marvelous Voice Of Luther Vandross. Part 26 of 30

lutherWhen celebrating African American Music Appreciation Month we must marvel at the Black voice in song.  It has a wonderful vibrato and tone filled with hope everlasting.  It can gracefully reach a brutal yet angelic fortissimo then in an instant render into a peaceful pianississimo whisper.  It can bounce around in a most staccato way and still lull a baby to sleep amid the bright lights and big city.  It tells stories of the Black experience past, present, and future.  It seeps into our memories and keeps us warm at night and calm in the midst of a storm. And it certainly can fill us with an abundance of joy!

Singers who have mastered the art, temperament, and technical requirements of the Black voice such as Billie Holiday, Nat Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Minnie Riperton, Teddy Pendergrass, Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Rachelle Farrell, Lalah Hathaway, Jose James, Ledisi, and Gregory Porter, just to name but a few, have delivered various musical motifs to global life.

Only select singers can be singled out to be examined for their abilities, cultural merits and social achievements and their motif of love. In this case, there is one singular Black voice, among few, who is known almost exclusively for the vocal ability to croon about love. Luther Vandross can be counted among those who have mastered the art, temperament, and technical requirements of the Black voice. Known at times as the “heavy weight of soul,” Vandross, with his voice, carved out a place for lovers to dwell. His voice smooth and alluring signaled both men and women to come hither (I’m having fun with this).  With a seemingly effortless glissando from a low holler to a righteous scream through several octaves, Vandross’ voice formed to cupid’s function.

Luther Vandross has many songs that can be used as examples to show how his voice, in all its power and ability, can set the tone in the mind and hearts of any listener. However, this post will use his 1983 release “Make Me A Believer” and that quintessential love motive. With its smooth glossy 80’s feel it tells of one lover’s desire to hold another in full belief that love will never end all the while Vandross’ voice is marvelous in tale.

AAMAM has a voice for lovers!

AAMAM: Nina Simone. Pushing The Ironic Show Tune! Part 12 of 30



In 1963, in America, the Civil Rights movement was in full bloom. It was led by leaders whom held social sway with the oppressed. Collectively, leaders and oppressed, pushed an urgent agenda of freedom forward. Conversely, there were forces, which pushed back against the agenda of freedom.

On June 12, 1963, NAACP field officer, activist, husband, and father Medgar Wiley Evers was gunned down in the driveway of his Jackson, Mississippi home by the Ku Klux Klan who led the charge of pushing back against the agenda of freedom. Sympathetic Americans were outraged.

One outraged in particular was singer, pianist, and social activist Nina Simone. In response to the killing of Evers and the relentless brutality in the state against the oppressed, she penned, arguably her most famous protest song, “Mississippi Goddam!” In true and total frustration with the violent push-backs by white Southerners, she responded in her most natural way—in song! “Mississippi Goddam!” allowed her as well as her oppressed listening audience to vent their emotions in tune. However, juxtaposed to the song’s angry rant, Simone purposely recorded the song in an ironic cheerful show tune (like) style. Why? Because she could. (and I believe she wanted to hoodwink the white Southerners into tapping their feet while listening to her song.)

Take a listen to Simone’s angry response wrapped in a cheerful package. Watch your feet!

Happy AAMAM!

AAMAM: Donny Hathaway, Immutable Sadness and Freedom! Part 10 of 30

DonnyHathawayMusic has the power to rectify the internal struggles of the mind. Its various rhythms, beats, and chord progressions speak to the soul in a remarkable way. Among many things, it soothes and brings about feelings of hope. The song “Someday We’ll All Be Free” is just such a song. The song was written with love and care by song writer Edward Howard to encourage good friend and troubled soul maestro Donny Hathaway in his sadness that was seemingly immutable.

Hathaway recorded the song and upon listening to the final play back cried out uncontrollably in joy. It is what he needed to hear. For a brief moment Hathaway was moved beyond his sadness to great joy and hope. This is the power of music.

However, for Hathaway, he needed a continual stream of encouragement to keep him barred from his sadness. “Someday We’ll All Be Free” although powerful in its message, was one of the last songs he recorded. Hathaway’s sadness thrived in silence and consumed him in 1979.

Moreover, “Someday We’ll All Be Free” became the mighty, but quiet anthem to the later days Civil Rights movement and the Black Power struggle with its overwhelming message of hope in the midst of the battle for equality.

Enjoy AAMAM!

AAMAM: Don’t Miss This Train or You’ll Be Sorry. Part 9 of 30

The+OJaysPeople all over the world

Join hands

Start a love train, love train. . .

The lyrics to the O’Jays’ song “Love Train” can certainly be counted among the most uplifting lyrics ever written. The song encourages an unbridled love for the fellow man around the world. “Love Train” literally takes the listener on trip around the world to embrace and hold the hand of every nationality.

Released in December 1972 and written by the formidable writing team of Gamble and Huff, “Love Train” stripped away race, culture, ethnicity, and even in some respect class–essentially sending the message that nothing else matters but love in an era of increasing global social and political tension and lingering war. Similar to the images made in the “Hilltop” Coke commercial and song “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing,” the O’Jays song created a sense of hope. In early 1973, “Love Train” ascended to the top of urban and pop charts making it a crossover success.

“Love Train,” today, if piped to the masses every hour would serve every community around the globe well in terms of loving your fellow man.

Love and Happy AAMAM!

AAMAM: You Go Girl! Part 8 of 30

chaka khanCo authored by Lerniece Charles

In 1978, Chaka Khan, in route to going solo from the hit band Rufus recorded and released “I’m Every Woman” written by the perpetual hit making team Nick Ashford and Valarie Simpson. The song was Khan’s first break out song as a solo artist. “I’m Every Woman”’s R&B and disco back beat supported lyrics that empowered women who were, at the time, increasingly entering the workforce and controlling their own destiny.

The song had a tremendous effect on the way it made women feel. For instance my wife loves this song and says it made her feel empowered—she felt like she “could do anything” when she heard it. Today she says she is especially fond of the lyrics:

“I aint braggin’ ‘cause I’m the one

You just ask me ooh and it shall be done

And don’t bother to compare ‘cause I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it! Yeah!

You go girl! Happy AAMAM!