Diasporic Music events to remember from 2012

Wonder forced to cancel Israeli benefit performance
 
Singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder was forced to cancel a performance for a December 6, 2012, fundraising gala to benefit the U.S.-based non-profit group, Friends of the Israel Defence Forces (FIDF).
 
Wonder had been scheduled to sing at the Los Angeles event for the organization, which aids people serving in Israel's military and families of fallen soldiers.
 
Stevie Wonder was appointed a “UN Messenger of Peace” in 2009, and that United Nations connection was cited as the reason for his cancellation.
 
However, the performer was the target of several petitions calling for him not to perform at the gala, most notably, an online petition organized by Change.org, which garnered thousands of signatures urging him to recall his protest of South Africa’s apartheid regime in the 80s.
 
The petition stated, “please remember that apartheid is apartheid, whether it comes from White Afrikaaner settlers of South Africa or from Jewish Israelis in Israel.”
 
Assuming that his move to bow out of performing for the FIDF benefit was in response to the petition, Wonder joins a growing list of celebrities who have essentially participated in an on-going cultural boycott of Israel based on its policies toward Palestinians.
 
They include: Carlos Santana, Elvis Costello, Gil-Scott Heron, Annie Lenox, Dustin Hoffman, Meg Ryan, Jon Bon Jovi, and Lady Smith Black Mambazo.
 
"Given the current and very delicate situation in the Middle East, and with a heart that has always cried out for world unity, I will not be performing at the FIDF Gala," Wonder said in a statement sent to Reuters news service.
 
He added, "I am and have always been against war, any war, anywhere."
 
The bourgeois press has been entirely silent on this issue.



Reverse Racism and Jazz

 

Africans in the United States and in other parts of the world have long been accused of "reverse racism".
 
 
The October 19, 1962 issue of the magazine ran an unsigned editorial titled, "Crow, Jim"
 
The essay blasted many of the greatest musicians that the United States has produced.
 
Robin D.G. Kelley's new book, Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times comes to rescue our music giants from a sector of "Caucasian critics.”
 
During the ‘50s and ‘60s, a coterie of jazz men and women were passionately involved in the struggle for world African liberation.
 
Kelley points out: "Jazz compositions these days bear titles like A Message from Kenya by Art Blakey, Uhuru Africa by Randy Weston, Africa Speaks, America Answers by Guy Warren and Afro-America Sketches by Oliver Nelson.”
 
Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite – We Insist! includes tunes like Tears for Johannesburg, a lament for Africans shot down in the Sharpeville massacre.
 
Roach's Freedom Now Suite featured his then-wife Abbey Lincoln, who was later named Aminata (by President Sekou Toure of Guinea) Moseka (by Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga of Zaire now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).



Three African musicians to know and remember this year

 

Earl Carroll
 
Earl “Speedoo” Carroll, lead vocalist of the Cadillacs, joined the ancestors on November 25, 2012, at a nursing home in New York, following a stroke and a battle with diabetes.
 
The Cadillacs’ biggest hit was the 1955 release, Speedoo, which became Carroll's nickname.
 
He joined The Coasters in 1961, leaving the group in the early 1990s to permanently reform the Cadillacs.
 
Sadly, Carroll, like Cleve Duncan of the Penguins, whom I wrote about in a previous issue of The Burning Spear, had to work a regular nine-to-five to sustain himself and his family.
 
In the 1990s, a newspaper reported that Carroll had worked as a custodian at PS 87, a New York elementary school, where he was a beloved figure whom the children called "Speedoo."
 
He also was the subject of a children's book, That's Our Custodian, by Ann Morris.
 
The book’s publicity helped him to revive his career. He later became a mainstay of a PBS series Honoring Doo Wop, hosted by Jerry Butler.
 
Carroll was 75 at the time of his death.
 
Pamela Maynard
 
The golden voice of Toronto-based Pamela Maynard has been silenced.
 
The Guyana-born entertainer extraordinaire succumbed to breast cancer in at the age of 58.
 
Her hits included the soca medley One Day at a Time and Misty Blue.
 
Maynard’s musical career was deeply influenced by her parents; her father operated a sound system and her mother, Mavis, wrote the lyrics for her daughter’s debut hit, Lost, Lonely & Helpless, also sharing the stage with Maynard and Eddy Grant at a show in Georgetown.
 
After leaving school in 1976, she joined the army where she sang for visiting dignitaries such as Fidel Castro.
 
She also represented Guyana at song festivals, and from the age of 15, sang lead and backing vocals with Yoruba Singers and, later, Sid and the Slickers.
 
Maynard is featured on a tape produced by the Toronto Chapter of the Black Music Association (BMA) 1986-87 Talent Search Finals.
 
The BMA was founded by Milton Blake and Norman Richmond. Salome Bey, Clifton Joseph and Diane Liverpool were members.
 
Mickey Baker
 
The  prickly, piercing guitar riffs of Mickey Baker were featured on dozens—if not hundreds—of recordings and helped propel the evolution of rhythm and blues into rock ’n roll.
 
Mr. Baker is probably best known for the single, Love Is Strange, a sexy pop tune that he and Sylvia Vanderpool Robinson recorded in 1956 under the name Mickey & Sylvia.
 
Love Is Strange sold more than a million copies and reached No. 1 on Billboard’s rhythm-and-blues chart and No. 11 on the pop chart.
 
According to the New York Times, "Mr. Baker supplemented his studio work with teaching, and he wrote a series of instructional books for jazz guitar, recapitulating his own idiosyncratic method, which is available today.”
 
“In the early 1960s, he moved to France, first to Paris and later to Toulouse, and he rarely returned to the United States."
 

Baker died recently at his home in Montastruc-la-Conseillère, near Toulouse in southwestern France. He was 87.

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