Feb 21, 2017

Cornel West

One of the most highly visible contemporary African-American intellectuals is Cornel West.

Image by Darrell Nance from Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA
West entered Harvard University at the age of seventeen and graduated in three years with a degree in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures and then earned a PhD at Princeton University.  Professionally, he has been a professor of philosophy, religion, divinity, American Studies, and African-American studies at Harvard, Princeton, Union Theological Seminary as well as being a highly sought-after lecturer, political activist, and even a film actor.  He played Councillor West in The Matrix film series.

Councillor West in The Matrix Reloaded
West is well-known for his outspoken views on race, the use and misuse of religion in the public sphere, Marxist thought, etics, social justice, and the cultural importance of music.  He is the author of numerous books, including the influential and controversial books Race Matters (1994) and The Future of Race (1996; co-written with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.), Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight against Imperialism (2004), and The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto (2012; co-written with Tavis Smiley).  West's aproach to life and ethics was summed up in his segment of Examined Life (2008), a film about contemporary American philosophers and the role of philosophy in American life.

EZProxy Warning

Howdy all.  Library users have been encountering a warning screen about the EZProxy recently, saying that the connection is insecure.  We're not sure why this is occurring, but here's a short video on getting around this screen.

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Feb 16, 2017

African-Ameerican Women Guitar Greats!

Glancing through Star Guitars … That Rocked the World, one might get the erroneous impression that women guitarists are few and far between-- only THREE women are listed out of 101 guitarists!  (Sister Rosetta Tharpe is one of the three).  Here’s a shout-out to—and partial list of--   a few often overlooked, incredible African-American female guitarists, past and present.  

Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe, late 1930s (Public domain)

Gospel superstar.  Godmother of rock and roll. Performed at Cotton Club, and with Dixie Hummingbirds, Lucky Millinder, Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman, and Sammy Price.  Many performers have credited Tharpe as having had a major influence on their music including Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Isaac Hayes, Aretha Franklin, and Tina Turner.

Video:  May 7th, 1964 performance, Alexandria Park Station, Manchester, performing “Didn’t it Rain.”

Andy Allo
Andi Allo and Prince (Public domain)

Cameroon-born singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actress Allo released album (UnFresh) in 2009, which led to her role as a backup singer and guitarist for Prince’s band The New Power generation. 
Video: Andy Allo performs “People Pleaser” on Jimmy Kimmel Live (March 31, 2013): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w35nYUxR4i0&list=PL3S8_vNEb8w12CiodynhrieQa1Z-V9Dv_


Bibi McGill

About Face, "Portland's interview magazine," Fall 2011

Belinda “Bibi” McGill is best known as the lead guitarist and musical director of the all-female Suga Mamas, Beyoncé's backing band.  Bibi also toured with Pink, among other bands.   
Video: “if I were a Boy,” guitar solo with Beyoncé:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MpGjS3-05Q

McGill currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she is also a yoga teacher— and founder of Bibi Food Enterprises which produces kale chips and other “gluten-free artisan food snacks.”

Malina Moye

Malina Moye (Public domain)

Malina Moye, “the female Jimi Hendrix,” is a singer, songwriter, lefty guitarist and entrepreneur.  Moye grew up surrounded by music-- her father played with Bernard Allison, and her mother was a background singer with Tina Turner.
Video: “Foxy Lady”: https://youtu.be/rXLp3ukUhBY

Tamar-Kali ("Nice and Rough : black women in rock" blog)

Tamar-Kali, favorite on the NYC underground punk rock music scene and star of documentary Afro-punk, takes her name from the Hindu goddess of war and death.  She likes to describe her music as “classical experimental” and “aggressive melodic rock.”  How would you characterize her music?  Here are two music videos of Tamar-Kali performing live to help you decide.
Video: “Senseless” (Tamar-kali & Psychochamber Ensemble, MOMA, 2015): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl2aXkPN0x0

Toshi Reagon
Toshi Reagon (iHeart Radio stock images, Public domain)

Toshi Reagon’s musician activist parents were members of the civil rights musical group The Freedom Singers. Mother Dr. Bernise Johnson Reagon founded Sweet Honey in the Rock, and father Cordell Hull Reagon was a leader of the civil rights movement in Albany.  Toshi is also the goddaughter of folk singer Pete Seeger, and was named after Seeger’s wife.  Toshi continues to speak out against injustice as her parents did-- she and her band BIGLovely performed with Nona Hendryx at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2007.
Video: “Battle of the Broken Word”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvFouNTbwvM

Valerie June
Valerie June (youtube still image, public domain)
Valerie June Hockett likes to described her music as “organic moonshine roots music.”  A modern woman, she raised funds to record an album via Kickstarter, raising $15,000 in 2 months. Valerie June is particularly popular in Europe and the UK, and her music is often played on BBC Radio 6.
Video: “You can’t be told”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSKJOwbKQ30

Interested in learning (hearing, watching) more?  Sad to say, at present there is little written about female guitarists, particularly those who are African American. We do, however, own the book She's a Rebel : the History of Women in Rock & Roll, as well as various DVDs such as Ken Burn’s Jazz series and Martin Scorsese’s The Blues series.  Several Summit Libraries own Gayle Wald’s biography Shout, sister, shout!, as well as CDs of Tharpe's music.  UK filmmaker Mick Csaky's  one-hour documentary Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll can be found online, and of course many music videos are available online thanks to youtube.