A PERSPECTIVE ON THE HISTORY of the SPOKEN WORD
by Paradise Freejalove Supreme
History of the Spoken Word (part one): The Original Blessing"In the beginning was The Word. And The Word was with God. And The Word was God. In essence these very first words of the bible are all you need to know. The whole rest of the bible and all other scriptures are but variations seeking to give you a greater understanding of this one divine truth: The Word is God! Everything begins and ends with the word. This has been true since the very first Poet and Spoken Word Artist said, "Let there be light!" so I can write uni-verses across the skies at night. So the most revolutionary thing black people can do right now...the most revolutionary thing every person on this planet can do right now...is stop cursing! If you don't want your communities to be cursed, stop cursing your communities! If you don't want your planet to be cursed, stop breathing curses into your planet's atmosphere! If you are a true follower of Ahkenaton, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Confucius, Mohammed, Moses, Marcus, Marley, Selessie, Emerson, Shakespeare, Gibran, Ghandi or any of the other immortal poets and spoken word artists you like to brag up on then - REPRESENT! Step ya game up and stop cursing! I guarantee you that out of all the collective texts and public discourses on record for these great men you will find as a common denominator nary a profane utterance amongst them! Because they all spoke about and strove for "A Word Supreme"! In my opinion poetry is the opposite of profanity, as much as music is the opposite of noise, and the ultimate goal of poetry and every true poet is to eradicate all things profane from the face of the earth and manifest Paradise! Let me show you what I mean.
"When I was a child I spoke as a child." But the more you become a man of power and influence the more you have to "watch what you say". Men, the onus is on us because where ever the head of the fish goes the body is sure to follow. And every child who comes into the world cursing and kicking and screaming and punching the air is reenacting the Fall of Man and the Original Curse. "Aw bleep!" may be a natural reaction to the realization of Paradise lost for grown folks or for babies when pushed out of the comfort zone of the womb! But babies holler and curse because it's the only survival mechanism they know, and because they have yet to learn how to speak the language and articulate their feelings and desires. And sadly some never learn otherwise because their parents curse the children, the children turn around and curse their families, and the family goes outside and curses the community; and the next thing you know there's an exodus of the very people who are most capable of doing something for the community, proclaiming, "Man, I had to get outta there! That place was cursed!"
And always I find it amusing when I hear poets say they aren't going to read a particular poem because there are children in the audience. There are always children in the audience! "All the world's a stage" and there are ALWAYS CHILDREN IN THE AUDIENCE! Even if you can't see them, there are always precious and impressionable souls in the audience and in the vicinity of influence of the spoken word. What difference does it make if a child gets the Killer Curse Virus directly from you or from somebody you gave it to? Your words don't stop speaking for you just because you stop speaking them, ever! Which is why you can remember what people said years ago! So the Killer Curse Virus, poisoning the water of the human soul, is passed on from generation to generation.
I call profanity the Killer Curse Virus because usually just before a killer kills somebody he curses them first because when you dehumanize somebody it makes it easier to kill them! The Killer Curse Virus is the deadliest dis-ease known to man - ever! It can be transmitted to and from even a two year old, through the air waves, radio waves, telephone, internet, films, books, CDs and by every public medium known to man! It's been said that there's only six degrees of separation between any two individuals on the planet. So when you shake your head in pity and disbelief when you see a young brother being arrested for murder on the 10 o'clock news, are you sure that the Killer Curse Virus he used to pull the trigger can't be traced back to you!?!
There used to be a time not too long ago when you would rarely hear a man curse in front of a woman. Even if he were the foulest and most despicable man on earth he still might have the decency not to spit ugly in front of one of nature's finest creations. And I find it a tad hypocritical that so many people try to paint Michael Jackson and catholic priests as the poster boys for child molestation, when far worse than molesting a child's body is molesting his mind! As bad as it is to molest a child's body, when a grown man teaches a child to curse and be vulgar not only is he adversely affecting that child's future, but he could be jacken whole generations with his indiscretions! And it used to be, just a few years ago, that you would rarely hear a woman curse! It seemed incongruent to see a beautiful woman open her mouth and show her behind! Women were too dignified and graceful and cognizant of the fact that they are the first teachers of the children of the world and, thus, hold the future of humanity not just between their hips but also between their lips! Today however women and children are some of the biggest carriers and distributors of the Killer Curse Virus; and often seem proud to verbally contribute to the sorry state of the world we live in today!
There is a direct historical correlation between the rise and fall of civilizations and their esteem or lack thereof for the gift of speech, language and communication. The Original Blessing was and is The Voice! being able to speak dreams, worlds and universes into existence. The Original Curse, abusing the Gift of Speech, was the root of evil. The perpetuation of the Original Curse is the spider's web that is shot out from person to person until it entangles the whole world! So, in this shout out to and for humanity, I reiterate, the devil can have no say in this world unless we let him speak through us; And the most revolutionary thing you can do right now...is upgrade your communication skills...and stop cursing. Word up!
I am The Word Made Fresh,Paradise Freejahlove Supreme
Presenting Rufus Wonder
True Vibe Records is proud to present the incredible Rufus Wonder, as this veteran singing sensation spearheads a call to action in the sensational song track titled “Uncle Sam’s Goin’ Broke.” He leads a diverse cadre of artists in this compelling social protest song which takes listeners through a description of the national state of affairs and some comedic relief, followed by spoken word artist Paradise’s suggested resolutions and Afro-centric perspective.
This ambassador of classic soul is also featured in the lighter, somewhat humorous track “Playaz Blues,” which is a parody on an aging player’s life. Both tracks will highlight the upcoming True Vibe Records album Mucho Mas Jazz Funk Hip HoPoetry.
Not only does Rufus Wonder bring his special talent to this project. He also brings a wealth of experiences that span his long fascinating musical career. He has performed on stage in the same shows with The Temptations, Dennis Edwards, Miriam Makiba, Billy Preston, Betty Everett, Carl Carlton, blues giants Little Milton and Little Willie John, Inez Jones, Sugar Pie De Santo, the jazz great Joe Williams, and Lee Williams.
After a long hiatus his musical career was resurrected in the early 2000s, when he suddenly found out that he had fans overseas in the United Kingdom, and that his classic single “Under the Moon,” which he recorded back in 1966 for Detroit-based Lando Records was popular. “Richard Higginbotham, of DEPAG, LLP and son of the famous R&B singer Tommy Tucker of “High-Heeled Sneakers” fame, and brother to blues singer Teeny Tucker, told me to put in a Google search using my name,” he recalled. That was valuable information that enabled Rufus to get original copies of his own recording that he had not promoted for a long time.
The relationship that developed between Rufus and U.K. music industry movers and shakers led to him being invited to the first Soul Trip USA event, which was held in 2004 Soul Trip USA Festival in Los Angeles. A U.K. movement called Northern Soul founded by Kev Roberts coordinated this recurring event so that U.K. fans of classic soul artists can come, meet, and enjoy their heroes perform in person. Rufus was among 101 classic soul artists invited, including the Persuaders, Archie Bell, Kim Weston, Bobby Freeman, Edna Wright of the Honey Cones, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, and others.
“I sold one copy of my vinyl ‘Under the Moon’ (a single, not an album) for $150 at that event, and another fan offered me $500, but I had run out of copies by that time,” he reminisced. “Then during the 2006 Soul Trip USA Festival in New York (actually held in New Jersey), “I sold another original copy for $250.” He continued.
Rufus’s career had reached its peak earlier when, “I got a contract with Lando Records,” he explained. “Detroit child prodigy and later Lando Records co-owner Sugar Chile Robinson signed me.”
Born in Bossier City, Louisiana, Rufus Wonder has had a storied career in the music business. At the age of 12, he moved to Oakland, California and later moved to Fresno, California where he began his musical journey in the high school choir. In the Navy, he formed a singing group called the Blenders. Rufus Wonder and the Blenders performed all over Asia. After the military, Rufus joined a group called The Riffs, named by Bill Norris, a drummer playing with famous musician Earl Grant, and they performed many concerts in the Los Angeles area. And it was after The Riffs dismantled that he made his mark on stage in San Francisco and many mid-western cities, including Chicago and Detroit.
During that time, “I performed with a Chicago theatre group called The Little Theatre, which was sponsored by Negro Charities of America,” he recalled. From that experience, “Jimmy Daniel, a promoter from the Shaw Artis Agency out of New York picked me up to take me on a one-niters tour with the Jimmy Daniels Review from Chicago to Saint Louis, Springfield, Boonville and Moberly, Missouri, Indianapolis and Muncie, Indiana, Decatur, Illinois and back to Chicago, where I performed with the (renowned) house band The Mar-Keys, who made the hit record ‘Last Night.’” William Bell, who made the hit record, “You Don’t Miss Your Water ‘Til Your Well Runs Dry” and Christine Kittrell were also a part of that tour. “Christine Kittrell had worked with James Brown, Little Richard, Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, Count Basie, John Coltrane, and Johnny Otis,” Rufus added.
“I was also picked up by promoter Dale Warren to perform in Milwaukee with Harvey Scales (who wrote “Disco Lady”) and the Seven Sounds. (The renowned) Motown choreographer Charlie Atkins approved me for the Detroit booking agency Rogers and Rogers Theatrical Enterprise, with which I performed my first gig in Cleveland, Ohio at the Pinwheel Lounge,” he said
Prior to that experience, revered blues singer Alberta Hunter (a contemporary of fellow blues singer Bessie Smith) took Rufus on tour to various night clubs, including to Gary, Indiana where he met and performed in the same show with Sugar Pie De Santo. And throughout his career, he has won numerous talent shows, awards, and received accolades while living and performing in San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities. From early on to later in his career, accomplishments include winning a contests at TV Channel 11 in Hollywood, UCLA, L.A.’s Oasis and California Night Clubs, and the First Stop Night Club in Jack London Square in Oakland, just to mention a few. He is also an annual participant at the HAL (Heroes And Legends) Awards held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, at which founder Janey Bradford (co-writer of the classic his hit “Money” with Berry Gordy), Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, George Duke, Lenny Williams, Martha Reeves, Jackie Jackson, Brandy, Freda Payne, the Temptations, Will Smith, and more have attended.
He later became an entrepreneur and ran a successful graphics and printing business for many years before losing his eyesight in 1999. But that has not slowed down this eternal optimist. “My great aunt and uncle raised me, and they taught me how to read and write before I started school,” he asserted. But more importantly, “the taught me how to think positively,” he concluded.
For more information about Rufus Wonder, go to www.rufuswonder.com
Special Feature: Ben Ball-----A Diamond in the Rough
He renders rich melodies on his alto saxophone reminiscent of Cannonball Adderly. He can swoon the ladies with his fluidity, smoothness, and deep suave tone similar to popular tenor saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr., and his technical skills show the influence of alto sax legends James Moody and jazz pioneer and bebop co-founder Charlie Parker. But he can also throw down some soul and funk with the likeness of tenor sax luminaries Stanley Turrentine, Maceo Parker, and alto sax great David Sanborn.
Accomplished musician and Berkeley, California native Ben Ball, who holds a Master of Arts Degree from prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston and plays many instruments, is an unsung hero ready to explode on the music scene. He has paid his artistic dues over a long period of time. But more importantly, he has the power to move listeners on any instrument that he gets his hands on. Just listen to the three solos on the classy Latin Jazz instrumental titled “Afro-Cuban Sax Brothers” during which he plays alto sax, piano, and soprano sax. In addition, his soul-stirring alto sax rendition on “Bold and Beautiful” is proof in the pudding that he can blow some down home funk and hang with the very best of horn players. Fans can also check out his blazing solos on “Give It All U Got!” “Uncle Sam’s Goin’ Broke” and the sexy spoken word piece “Connections,” which also features his Berkeley High School and Berklee College of Music classmate and vocalist/ spoken word artist Raquel Ramsey, during which he plays a sultry background tenor sax and two solos. All these tracks can be enjoyed on the upcoming True Vibe Records album titled Mucho Mas Jazz Funk Hip HoPoetry.
It didn’t take Ben Ball long to find out what he wanted to do in life. “I was five years old when I decided to play music,” he asserted. “My dad was a pastor, so I was in church a lot and I liked the sound of the choir.” Ball’s parents, originally from Tyler, Texas, migrated to the San Francisco Bay Area shortly after the World War II mass exodus when many African Americans came from southern states to northern states to fill the shortage of manpower for jobs. His mother and two older sisters sang in the church choir, but “it was my oldest brother who really influenced me to play,” he continued. His oldest brother plays keyboard, trumpet, bass guitar, and lead guitar. And it was that lead guitar that first fascinated Ball at his young tender age. “Then I started playing drums at age six as soon as I could pick up some sticks,” he said. “I tried a bunch of instruments before I found the clarinet in fourth grade.” “I mostly liked the trumpet, but I didn’t have the chops to play it,” he added.
He wound up doubling on both clarinet and alto sax for three years until the sax prevailed and the clarinet fell to the wayside. The young prodigy honed his musical skills through eight years of rigorous training in the University California, at Berkeley’s Young Musicians Program. He also developed his artistry even more as a member of the highly regarded Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble before the Monterey Jazz Festival Foundation awarded him a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music. There he studied and “kicked it” with the likes of trumpet master Roy Hargrove, tenor sax giants Mark Turner and Joshua Redman, who attended nearby Harvard University.
One of his more unique experiences was playing with an African funk band in New York City called Ibrahim World Beat, a group that included musicians from East Africa (Kenya to be exact) and West Africa (including Nigeria). He has also performed with jazz immortal Donald Byrd, as well as San Francisco Bay Area legends Ed Kelly, Charles Hamilton, Bill Bell, and others.
Not only is Ben Ball killin’ it on alto, soprano, tenor sax, keyboard, and drums, he also plays baritone sax. And his other influences not mentioned earlier include tenor sax icon and modern jazz institution John Coltrane, sax men Paul Desmond, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Garrett, Joe Henderson, Billy Pierce, Dexter Gordon, George Coleman, and Randy Brecker, pianists Vince Guiraldi, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, and Oscar Peterson, as well as trumpet players Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Chet Baker, and the monumental trumpet trailblazer, Latin Jazz pioneer, and bebop-cofounder Dizzy Gillespie.
Ball is currently holding it down as the group’s anchor on keyboard, as he is celebrates 10 years of playing with the adult professional Ben Oni Orchestra and its related multi-ethnic Youth Orchestra. The Youth Orchestra is a program that trains and develops young musicians from elementary school up through high school. Under the auspices of the Church of African Descent and held at Richmond, California’s Grace Lutheran Church, it was founded and is currently led by educator, minister, and youth mentor Dr. Curtis Shaw, who is providing this special opportunity for many youngsters since many financially-strapped local public schools have discontinued their music programs.
To new and upcoming musicians he advises them, “to learn how to play all the right notes, stay locked in synch with the band, and don’t get sick (so you won’t miss out on gigs).” Regarding his own special musical gift and development as an artist he adds, “I thank God, my moms, my pops, my elementary school music teacher and mentor Jesse Anthony, my brothers and sisters, and a shout out to Mac Money LP.”
"The History of Spoken Word in Black America"
by Paradise Freejalove Supreme
The history of the spoken word in Black America began with the angst and first anguished cries of the tortured slave when Africans were first dragged across the Atlantic, kicking and screaming, to the shores of the New World Stage. The first couple of this historic movement, I think most scholars would agree, had to be Phyllis Wheatley and Paul Laurence Dunbar. Phyllis Wheatley is heralded as being the first black person invited to the white house. Dunbar spoke Ebonics, a black dialect of the English language, before anybody new what Ebonics was. And I've noticed that on the internet today Dunbar's style of expression is making a comeback; people in the high speed technological world we live in today are using words like "dis", "dat" and "dem" instead of "this", "that", and "them" just to save a little time.The Harlem Renaissance of the 30s and 40s gave birth to "The New Negro", James Weldon Johnson, who coined what was to become the Black National Anthem, "Life Every Voice and Sing", and to a man who may be considered the Poet Laureatte of Black America, Langston Hughes, and his signature piece, "I've Known Rivers". The Black Power Movement of the sixties blessed us with the likes of Don L. Lee, Sonia Sanchez and scores of others, including Nikki Giovanni, who became such a household name she may have been our first rock-star-poet. Marvin X is widely accredited with starting the modern Black Arts Movement in the U.S. Teaming with such notables as Ishmael Reed, Ed Bullins, Ted Joans and Leroi Jones (now Amiri Baraka), who has been pertinent from before the time he wrote one of the most important books in my life, "Blues People", to the controversial, "Somebody Blew Up America" and beyond; "If racism don't kill me, capitalism will". He and Bob Kaughman were the key brothers behind the The Beat Movement in the Fifties that gave rise to the likes of Beat Icons, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. But during the Sixties there emerged a new militant revolutionary group called, The Last Poets. When I first heard these guys I thought, "Oh my God! Can they say that in America!?!" "Blessed are those who struggle to survive because oppression is worse than the grave! Better to die for a worthy cause than to live and die a slave!" I told Umar, from The Last Poets, personally, "You guys helped me come into my manhood. If you guys could say what you said, so poetically, I had to do better and step my game up!" However the apex and plateau of the spoken word movement may indeed be Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. He articulated what every enslaved and free black person in the United States had been feeling and thinking and dreaming for over 400 years!Billie Holiday's, "Strange Fruit", has been called the first protest song in America! It would be followed by such anthems as, "Say It loud! I'm Black And I'm Proud!" by James Brown. Gil Scott Heron's, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", Marvin Gaye's, "What's Going On?" "The Message", by Grand Master Flash & the Furious Five, Public Enemy's Fight the Power!" and now, "I Love Everything About You, But You!" by yours truly, has been called amongst other things, "The song of the century" and "The new international black anthem." .Who knew when we all heard that first big rap song by The Sugar Hill Gang, "Rapper's Delight", what would follow. To today's first spoken word couple in Black America would probably be, Amiri Baraka and Maya Angelou. But today we have a new spoken word art form called Slam! Def Poetry Jam's Cable TV show has brought poetry to the mainstream media for the first time ever! Also out of New York and carrying the torch from the Last Poets was a group called The Nile River Gods; and from that group the number one selling spoken word artist worldwide, Talaam Acey. There are a number of young up and coming spokenwords artist right here in Oakland starting to receive national acclaim; including Wordslanger, a firebrand poetess, Ise Lyfe, who said, "We done went from being freedom fighters to being dumb fa free", and Nercity, "Marvin Gaye was the Tupac of your parents generation." Indeed, Marvin Gaye may not only have created the first seamless album with, "What's Going On?", where each track flowed smoothly into the next without stopping; he may also be the Godfather of Rap! Hip Hop is the lifestyle and culture started in the late 70s, early 80s and Rap (or flow-etry, spokenword poetry rhymed to Hip Hop beats) is its highest art form. There's this one instrumental on the album "Trouble Man" which predates any other Hip Hop beat that I can think of. And the first Rap Song may indeed have been, "Funky Space Reincarnation", on Marvin's, "Hear, My Dear", double album which slipped under the radar of most black music enthusiasts, but in my opinion is one uv his funkier albums! I want to take up where Marvin left off, with a brand new sound! A kind of Holy Hip Hop or Talk Music, if you will, that's so fresh and so clean that, although up until this time no spoken word artist has yet to break the glass ceiling and hit the mainstream, with your help...Paradise Freejahlove Supreme and JazzFunkHipHoPoetry will usher in a new era of great music!I hope u njoyed my freestyle!?!
_______________________________From my one man show: "My Dr. King Speech, 'I Still Have A Dream': What Dr. King Might Say If He Were Alive Today Paradise Freejahlove SupremeI have come to you today....to answer....a question. A question that I know is on many of your minds...and that is at one and the same time a cry of despair and a plea fa hope. I have come to you today because I know that your collective minds are in a quandry. Your spirits and morale is sagging, and many of you are wondering if all our blood sweat and tears, all our efforts to realize the American Dream have been in vain.I have come to you today because I know that many of you are realizing perhaps for the first time - that racism is not some little puppy that you can just pat on the head and teach new tricks overnight. But it's more like an enormous and stubborn ol' pit bull filled up with millenniums of hate.I have come to you today because I know that many of the promises that were made to us have been reneged upon. And much of what we've fought for and against in recent years have been retracted, revised and reconstituted. And although poverty and homelessness in many places all over the country today is worse than it was 40 years ago in the old rural south...the answer to your question is, yes: I STILL HAVE A DREAM!I still have a dream although it seems that we have lost complete control over our young people today, and some of our own children are poisoning and terrorizing our neighborhoods with the kind of drugs and violence that fulfill the purposes of white supremacy.I still have a dream although many of my own people have mistaken my dream of brotherhood through integration, for assimilation and the loss of self-identification; and have become like scattered little black ants trying to avoid being trampled by the ubiquitous feet of the oppressor.I still have a dream because I never have and I never will give up on my people. A people upon whose broad and capable shoulders much of the destiny of the entire world has been entrusted.I still have a dream because I've been to the mountain top...and mine eyes have seen the bigger picture, its process of development, and the paragon of glory that has only just begun to embrace us as a people.I still have a dream but today I come to you with a new hope! A dream not so much for a nation, but for the wisdom, power and salvation of self-realization! A self-realization in which we use our books and religions as guides to remind us who we are, and not as barriers we allow to come between us and the Divinity we are all striving to become.I have a dream that someday we'll look upon the whole universe as our place of worship, we'll make love the common denominator of all our religions and try to worship the Supreme in everybody and everything all of the time!I have a dream that someday soon we'll bring our faraway Gods and Heavens home, by realizing them on the inside and actualizing them on the outside!I have come here today to assure you that someday in the not too distant future freedom will ring all over this great land! Freedom will ring from the great memorial of the Twin Towers of New York to the Great Pyramids of Cairo, Egypt! Freedom will ring from the foothills of East Oakland to the sand hills of the Middle East! Freedom ring from the abandoned neighborhoods of Detroit to the abandoned peoples of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast! Freedom will ring on all the southsides! South Philly, Southside Chicago, the South Bronx, South Central L. A., all the way down to South Africa, let freedom ring! And I am as sure of this as I know the sun is rising somewhere out there even though you can't see it right now! Freedom will ring until one day we'll all be able to sing as they did in that ol' negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!