An Interview with Maya Jensen, Filmmaker behind ‘Solidarity in Saya: An Afro-Bolivian Music Movement’

Bolivians of African descent introduced Jensen to Saya music, an old artform which was a universal language in the Spanish-speaking land of their political and labor oppressors. Jensen’s film documents Saya music of today. Continue reading

Billy Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life

Strayhorn

The gospel-influenced and classically-trained pianist and composer is in renaissance of interest and celebration thanks to the establishment of Billy Strayhorn Songs in 1997. The family-owned company’s efforts include marking the centennial of his birth in 2015. The Bill Strayhorn Foundation, Inc’s is committed to deepening appreciation for jazz music in general, starting with Strayhorn. Now longtime fans and new discoverers can enjoy Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life, a fine biographical coffee table book available from Bolden Books/Agate Publishing in Chicago. Continue reading

Toni Morrison and Boy George Cover Billie Holiday

Morrison has proved to be the most thorough documentarian of African-American female existence in all its forms: in the womb, baby, child, girl, woman, senior, from the afterlife. The mantra of “God bless the child…” is actually her most consistent answer to black women. Enjoy Holiday’s original version, as well as a neat cover by Boy George and Micah Paris. Continue reading

What Billie and Phyllis Sang About

Read my story “What Billie and Phyllis Sang About”, about an abandoned black woman left to survive alone in Harlem, in the new issue of Atticus Review. My favorite Billie Holiday and Phyllis Hyman music is on the story’s companion soundtrack Here. #BillieandPhyllis Continue reading

Lena Horne

Much has changed since the 16-year old who was Lena Horne danced her first tentative steps across the stage of the Cotton Club. Through myriad triumphs and challenges, she paved the way to stardom for countless others in the entertainment industry. Her continued musical, theatrical, and political efforts grew with the times and met each new decade with courage and grace. But, if one thing hasn’t changed, it’s Horne’s ability to break our hearts with her shimmering resonant voice, singing songs like “Black Coffee” and “Stormy Weather.” Continue reading