Diasporic Music for April 2013

 
Call for Alicia Keys to boycott illegitimate settler State of Israel
 
Alicia Keys is scheduled to play in Tel Aviv, Israel on July 4, 2013. We cannot allow our talent to side with those on the wrong side of history. Call for Alicia Keys to boycott the apartheid state of Israel!
 
"We must be vigilant and dedicated to ending Israeli Apartheid just as we were in the fight to end it in South Africa. Artists who refuse to honor our cultural boycotts should themselves be boycotted. Don't buy their music!!" This is from the pen of Kiilu Nysha, former member of the Black Panther Party based in San Francisco.
 
There is a call for Alicia Keys not to perform in Israel. I have been covering the Cultural Boycott of Israel on Radio Regent and in the Burning Spear newspaper and Uhuru Radio. We covered Stevie Wonder who was forced to cancel a December 6, 2012 performance for a fundraising gala to benefit the U.S.-based non-profit group, Friends of the Israel Defence Forces (FIDF). Unfortunately, Chaka Khan did the show for him.
 
Now we are calling on Alicia Keys to follow Wonder’s lead and not play in Apartheid Israel. The Palestinian campaign for the Academic & Cultural boycott has issued an Open Letter to Keys. http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2135
 
A petition on change.org is asking Alicia Keys to cancel her concert. The goal at this time is to get 5000 signatures. The petition states:
 
"We ask Alicia Keys to stand on the side of justice and cancel her gig in Tel Aviv, Israel. Alicia Keys is scheduled to play to a segregated audience in Israel on July 4z, 2013 at Nokia Arena in TelAviv. This boycott is inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid and in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression.  Israel is a persistent violator of international law and has failed to respect fundamental human rights. Until Israel ends its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine we ask you, as a person of conscience and a philanthropist, not to play in Israel. Alicia Keys, please join us now in the cultural boycott of Israel, and help stop entertaining apartheid."
 

R.I.P.

Donald Byrd

Donald Byrd was indeed an extraordinary human being. Born on December 9, 1932 and he joined the ancestors on – February 4, 2013. Byrd was an African born in Detroit who played a wide range of Black Music from jazz to rhythm and blues. He was a trumpeter who began as a sideman for many other jazz musicians of his generation. Byrd was best known as one of the only bebop jazz musicians who successfully pioneered the funk and soul genres while simultaneously remaining a jazz artist.
 
I remember seeing a brother browbeat Byrd at a Black Music Association convention in New York City in 1983. The gentlemen had a crowd of about 50 people and was seriously questioning Byrd’s blackness. He called Byrd everything but a child of Allah. Byrd was cooler then cool and merely listened. After our man completed his tirade, Byrd pulled out his car license and said, "Read this out loud n—–". The n—– read "Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II". The 50 people broke into laughter and Byrd's adversary walked away in defeat.
 
As a bandleader, Byrd is also notable for his influential role in the early career of renowned keyboard player and composer Herbie Hancock.
 
I met Byrd in Toronto and visited him when he lived in Los Angeles. He explained to me that he begin coming to Toronto in the 1960s and had developed friendships with drummer Archie Alleyne, Salome Bey, Howard Matthews and others.

Jewel Akens
 
When I came to California in October 2012 I had a list of people I wanted to see. One of them was singer Jewel Akens. Akens was an R&B crooner. He had been a co-worker with my mother at John Wesley County Hospital in L.A.
 
The song "The Birds and the Bees” vaulted him to fame in the mid-1960s. Contrary to popular belief, he was not a one-hit wonder. His English version of the Japanese song, "Sukiyaki (My First Lonely Night)” was also a hit.
 
I never hooked up with Akens in California, but I met him in Toronto when he performed at a local club. 
 
Akens began his career in the late 1950s, working with Eddie Daniels and guitar legend Eddie Cochran, and later recorded singles with the Four Dotsdoo-wop group.
 
He passed recently at 79 of complications from back surgery at a Los Angeles Medical Center in Inglewood, said his wife, Eddie Mae. I never hooked up with Akens in California.
 

Sweet Honey in the Rock release new album

Sweet Honey In The Rock's new 2-CD set, "A Tribute Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center," sets the stage for "Women’s History Month.” Group member Ysaye Barnwell recites a roll-call of some of the great female African-American vocalists whose songs helped shape the group and "Tributes" repertoire, including Abbey Lincoln, Odetta, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, Carmen McRae, Bessie Smith, and Sarah Vaughan.
 
For more information and non-"Tribute" dates, visit www.sweethoneyintherock. org. Also coming to NJPAC, later this month, Fri. Mar. 29,Take 6 & Hezekiah Walker. 1-888-GO-NJPAC (1-888-466-5722) or njpac.org.
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