Date: February, 2007
“Mississippi’s Delta Son”
43rd Grammy Nominated Songwriter
I dedicate my new studio album CD to the people of the “Delta” because of my love of my home, Mississippi. When I was a child growing up between Clarksdale (my birthplace) and Leland where I grew up from 1959 until I left for New York in 1966, I hated the sound of the word Mississippi. But there is little or no need to dig up old bones or open new wounds or summons hateful ghost of days gone past. In many ways I am thankful for those growing pain days because it taught me how not to hate and why not to hate.
Growing up in Mississippi, I received my “life’s” education and I graduated with a BA degree in “how to survive” and how to get along and stay out of harm’s way. I acquired a PhD in tolerance, understanding and perseverance by moving to New York when I was just fifteen years old and surviving there. What I needed to learn to survive in the city while trying to learn the music business was mostly about finding my own self-fullillness, building my self-esteem, getting myself motivation, being determined, and setting things in motion to make sure that I learned how to take care of kids and a family. Staying away from drug dealers, gangs, violence and crime was easy to stay clear of after I learned those values. Although I grew up right smack dab in the middles of pimps, drug dealers, hooker and thieves, I was immune to all of it because I knew who I was and where I wanted to go.
It was my late mother Rebecca who educated me about people, the world and what I would see as I passed through it. From her I received a great understanding of just what an imagination can do for someone who grows up learning very little and being told that you are capable of not learning much less. Because I grew up in Mississippi, and saw everything negative about the world and about people, during my formative years, a strange thing happen to me, during this dark period of my life, “I learned everything that no one wanted to teach little black boys from Mississippi” and because of my mother, I tried to learn everything else that there was to learn. My greatest awakening about the world as a young man came when I discovered the world of poetry. This world began with the reading of poetry by Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg at school in Leland at Lincoln Attendance Center. I did not learn about the likes of Shakespeare, Langston Hughes, Dunbar or Keats until I attended Andrew Jackson High School in Queens New York beginning in 1966.
Once I began to read, recite and interpret the works of great poets such as Whitman and Sandburg, my mind began to travel to far away places and I began to see a world that I never knew existed. Once that happen, I would lay in my bed at night in Leland and listen to the Randy Radio show which came out of Nashville, Tennessee. It was a national station that played all black music. As I lay in my bed listening to the music of Sam Cooke, Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Muddy Waters, ‘Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King, I realized that I could travel even farther using my imagination.
The words of the poets, songwriters and the music of composers such as Duke Ellington intrigued me and made me frightening curious and eager to see and feel the things that these people spoke about in their poems, in their songs and in their musical orchestrations. And although I grew up in the bowels of the south and lived under a constant dark cloud of doubt, suspicion, deceit, hate and despair, my life, my future and my fate, was directed and guided by music. The printed word by the poet, the written lyrics of the songwriter and the musical arrangements of arrangers and composer saved my life and gave me focus and purpose. And so I owe Mississippi, me.
“Mississippi’s Delta Son”
(The Songwriter’s Series)
This album is a serious matter for me because I wanted the lyrical compositions contained in it, to last and to mean something for my four children. It has taken me, four “real” years to make it come out the way that I wanted it to. I want the stories that I have written here, to be a guide and to make people understand that it is ok to hurt, that it is ok to love and to cry, for life contains so much that you must get through while you are looking for the good times. There are songs on this album that will touch anybody. Songs like, “Trying not to break down” is about any and everyone that we meet. It says to me that no matter what we go through, we must maintain dignity, composure and integrity. We must not breakdown and fall apart.
The album contains what I feel is a powerful and inspirational peace called, “The Rise and fall of Love.” We all go through ups and downs in love and in life. We all get angry and say never again will we suffer that kind of heartbreak. But, love is powerful and can rise from the fire and from the ashes. Eternal hope is what the song is about. After you have listened to this CD through completion, I think that you will understand the things about life that I believe in. I believe in life and love in all of it’s’ forms and all of the emotions that these two things bring out in each and in all of us. This CD is a tribute to all of those people who came before me who used their imagination to write down lyrics that reached people and that touched their feelings and their emotions.
Coming up in the age that I came up in and living under that constant dark cloud of doubt, suspicion, deceit, hate and despair, demonstrated to me, that we all must work together to make it better for those who stumble. We must not render our young people “invisible” by not reaching and teaching them about the real world. We should not simply throw them to the wolves that live, hunt and devour unassuming and misinformed young people in the real world.