Diasporic Music

  

 
Colina Phillips
 
Colina Phillips, a Hamilton, Ontario-based filmmaker and music maker, kicked off Black Music Month on Diasporic Music on Uhuru Radio.
 
Phillips was a member of the Toronto female vocal group, The Tiaras.
 
The Tiaras featured Jackie Richardson, Arlene Trotman, Brenda Russell and Colina Phillips.
 
Phillips earned a gold record for the Canadian version of the hit single Hands Up. She also wrote the CD, SVP Blue Mood.
 
She also directed music videos for Jackie Richardson and Doug Riley and wrote and directed the movie Making Change.
 
Eric Mercury's story is a classic
 
The Toronto-born Eric Mercury is a singer, songwriter, producer and actor.
 
Mercury had to move to the United States to be signed by Stax Records.
 
Stax was the home of Otis Redding, Issac Hayes, Johnnie Taylor, the Emotions and Sam and Dave.
 
He recorded the classic album, Electric Black Man.
 
He didn't stop there, and went on to act in several films, including The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.
 
This film stared Julius "Dr. J" Ervin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jonathan Winters and Stockard Channing.
 
Mercury was actually forced out of Toronto for economic reasons.
 
He tells the story of how one Sunday morning in Toronto, his landlord came for the rent and began knocking at his door. He turned on the television to block out the noise and saw himself on the screen performing on national Canadian TV.
 
"That was it. If I'm a star in Canada and can't pay my rent, it's time to move on,” declared Mercury.
 
He began writing material for other artists such as Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway for whom he also produced.
 
He and Stevie Wonder wrote You Are My Heaven for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway.
 
Continental Africans have had an impact on Black Music in North America.
 
K'naan
 
I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting on a panel with K'naan at Harbourfront Centre before he blew up.
 
K"naan is a Somali Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter and instrumentalist.
He rose to prominence with the success of his single Wavin' Flag, which was chosen as a soft drink company's promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He took some heat from progressive forces for agreeing to take this spot.
 
It must be noted that the Brazilian people are currently protesting by the millions against the Olympic Games and the economic hardships the Olympics will impose on the people.
 
K'naan spent his childhood in Mogadishu and lived there until the start of the Somali Civil War, which began in 1991.
 
Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour heard K'naan speak before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999.
 
K'naan performed a spoken-word piece criticizing the UN for its failed aid missions to Somalia.
 
N’Dour was so impressed by the young MC's performance and courage that he invited him to contribute to his 2001 album Building Bridges, a project through which K'naan was able to tour the world.
 
K'naan became a friend and associate of the African Canadian promoter, Sol Guy, who helped him speak before the UN.
 
Soul Heaven
 
Marvin Junior (January 31, 1936, – May 29, 2013) of the Dells, Clarence Burke Jr. (May 25, 1949 – May 26, 2013) of the Five Stairsteps and jazz pianist and composer Mulgrew Miller (August 13,1955 – May 29,2013), have joined the ancestors.
 
Teddy Pendergrass called Marvin Junior his musical father. Pendergrass was known for singing the Dells, Stay in My Corner.
 
The Dells were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
 
The band performed until illnesses forced longtime lead singer Marvin Junior and bass vocalist Chuck Barksdale into retirement, ending the Dells' 60-year run.
 
Clarence Burke Jr. was a founding member of the legendary Five Stairsteps.
 
Many felt that the group was as talented as the Jackson Five.
 
Their smash was Ooh Child, a song my youngest sister was madly in love with.
 
Burke, the eldest brother, was the group's producer and choreographer. He played guitar and wrote many of the songs. He wrote the group's first single, You Waited Too Long.
 
A close neighbor and family friend was Fred Cash of The Impressions, who introduced the group to Curtis Mayfield.
 
I saw Mulgrew Miller once in Toronto at the club Basin Street when he accompanied vocalist Betty Carter.
 
The New York Times wrote a great tribute to Miller. Says John Fordham:
 
“A selfless collaborator, he was regularly sought out by big-name performers such as Duke Ellington’s bandleader son Mercer, the drummer Art Blakey, the saxophonist Branford Marsalis and the vocalist Betty Carter. He was also a composer and leader of quiet distinction—whether alone, in his favorite trio lineups or exploring, as he did in the Wingspan ensemble he launched in 1987, with the warm tone-colors of an unusual band combining vibraphone and reeds.”
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