…is in the air for all things in the natural world, along with a veritable sprouting up of things musical, theatrical, poetical and artistic, into which I immerse and disappear, wrapping myself up within, and winding myself ’round their various notes, rhythms, stanzas, choruses and brush strokes…
…contemplating what we are trained to believe, what we think is true, how we relate to ourselves and to one another, how we fit into the wondrous and wicked planet on which we live. For but a moment. For but a lifetime.
How do we record our experiences here, what we see, what we feel, what we want to say…with words, songs, brush strokes. How do we?
I hardly know which artist to offer up, whether it ought to be the English poet/playwright Kate Tempest< who claims the art of rap for herself from first to last spoken rant.
“We have jealousy
and tenderness and curses and gifts.
But the plight of the people who have forgotten their myths
and imagine that somehow now is all that there is
is a sorry plight,
all isolation and worry –
but the lift in your veins
it is godly, heroic.
You were born for greatness;
believe it. Know it.
Take it from the tears of the poets. – Kate Tempest
Or whether it should be Alabama Shakes, whose front woman, Brittany Howard, speaks for so many when she says about belting it out in front of a crowd:
“That’s why I’m there. For that connection. It’s hard to explain. The only thing I can say is that it makes the world seem not so bad, to know that people do like you, that they think like you, that they get it. It’s good to know you’re not all by yourself.”
Or perhaps it is the art of Monir Farmanfarmaian, a 91-year old Iranian artist who finally has a show at the Guggenheim, a museum she used to visit when she was a child, and who begs us to ask how long it will take for the power of art as a dialogue for peace, humanity, life, love and healing to eradicate the more prevalent international taste for war and violence.
Of the art collection she lost when she and her husband had to flee the Islamic Revolution, she says:
“They took everything, even my shoes and my underwear. “Don’t talk to me about it or you’ll make me cry.”
Or I could just as easily have started with the story of Raeda Taha, a Palestinian writer and performer, whose one woman play, Where Can I find Someone Like You, Ali, tells, in highly personal terms, the Palestinian side of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. More war. More violence. More theatre. More words. More art.
I long to write an interactive post tying together the thoughts, the words, the art of each of these women, speaking to one another and to us across cultures. But perhaps in the end it’s just as well that I can’t…because you’ll just have to click on each of the below links and go on a discovery journey for yourselves.
But it will be worth it.
On second thought, I think I’ll offer up Kate’s The Beigeness, ’cause this young woman is awesome. Listen.
P.S. Plus… Jane Satan Rakali says this is The Year of the Goat, the year in which Art defeats War. Hope does spring internal…that from a woman who doesn’t believe in hope…
Kate Tempest, a Young Poet Conjuring Ancient Gods:
Kate Tempest website:
Alabama Shakes’s Soul-Stirring, Shape-Shifting New Sound:
In One-Woman Show, Protégée of Arafat Offers an Ironic Take on a Conflict:
The Ghost of a Martyred Father Hovers Over Babel Theater:
#KateTempest #AlabamaShakes #MonirFarmanfarmaian #RaedaTaha #Rap #Poetry
March 22, 2015 at 9:57 pm
J. Hancock Cilla C BobbieZen Amy Gabriel Please come read. I thought of each of you when I read about these women. Enjoy!
Thank you Giselle Minoli. A lovely collection to capture this moment in time; seen through the perspectives of these women.
March 23, 2015 at 12:20 am
thank you, Giselle Minoli. and thank you for the tag, Lady Deidre HufflePillowFightStarter. so much wonderful to explore!
March 23, 2015 at 12:35 am
Thank you ladies! I can’t wait to check it out.
March 23, 2015 at 1:20 am
There is no one in my life whose taste in performance so coincides with mine as Meg L (as in I suspected her of being a particularly adept phisher when I first started interacting with her).
And Giselle Minoli, It is no accident that I met her in your stream. Both Ms. Tempest and Ms. Howard are favorites of ours, and now I see, yours.
Kate Tempest is in a class by herself. Watch 13th commandments or the Brand New Ancients and see and hear why she is a cultural reference in the making. She is why I believe that my youngest has an avenue for her own talents.
Brittany Howard commits to a pretty good band, but brings a force to the basic tunes that takes the cuts way beyond what they, by themselves, would ever be able to.
March 23, 2015 at 2:01 am
Bill Abrams I am not at all surprised to learn that you already know all about this particular Tempest and Ms. Howard. On 60 Minutes tonight there was a segment about Neil DeGrasse Tyson and how he first developed a passion for astrophysics. At the end he talked about the importance of every person looking “up” every time they go outside and spending a moment every day contemplating the wonderment of the Universe.
So, too, I think it is with art and poetry and literature and nonfiction and music and dance and filmmaking and photography and performance art and opera and theatre. As Joni Mitchell sang, the Star Maker Machinery has a way of focusing the telescope on just a few “stars” all but obscuring those without access to the road to fame.
But as we are now discovering with traveling rovers that are able to look deep into the Universe…creative people are calling us to think, feel, watch, look, listen in a myriad of ways every day.
If we only take the time to absorb.
Meg L greetings! I did not know that you and Bill Abrams met on my stream. That makes me happy. I can say I have done one thing right here then… 😉
March 23, 2015 at 2:26 am
Kate Tempest is a force that I think would reward your attention.
My first listen to her was a piece she did for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
You have to love a teen age rapper who has such deep cultural chops to challenge the bard on his own stage.
March 23, 2015 at 2:27 am
And Oh Bill Abrams I almost forgot…but how could I really…that it was Meg L who told me about the art and craft of Jin Shin Jyutsu, which I finally had a chance to introduce myself to last Summer as part of my healing and rehabilitation after fracturing my leg. What an incredible experience, which I have yet to write about. All roads lead to Meg L ???
March 23, 2015 at 2:33 am
Years ago Bill Abrams, when I was studying all of the ancillary disciplines that go with being an actor/director – style and movement being two of the key disciplines – I was in a movement workshop at Loyd Williamson’s studio with about 25 other actors and we were all lying on the wood floor on our backs sort of “dancing” on the floor. Rap had just really taken off and rather taken over (I might add) the music industry at the time…and suddenly Loyd asked out loud “What kind of music do you hate?” and I was stunned to hear all these (mostly) light-skinned actors blurt out, almost in unison…. “RAP.” It was hilarious, but they were serious and I remember thinking…I wonder how many of them have ever really sat down and LISTENED to ANY rap lyrics. And I thought of that class when I first heard of Kate Tempest and I wonder what they would all think of her. I’d love to see her on her “American” tour..
March 23, 2015 at 2:45 am
Giselle Minoli It still isn’t one of my favorites, but there are those rap songs I appreciate.
I wasn’t a huge blue grass lover until Oh Brother Where Art Thou, and singing some of those tunes. Listening to Alison Krauss influenced a change too.
For me, music is certainly about the tune, but always the words too.
March 23, 2015 at 3:01 am
“Years ago” I listened to Johannesburg, which led me to The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and inspired me to create my own spoken poem titled “Birdman” with a high school buddy. We worked on it over several weeks adding and amending stanzas. I wish now that we had written it down. But treasure the memory nonetheless, and see the joy in creation and performance in the next generation.
March 23, 2015 at 3:06 am
Bill Abrams just when I got to the words “create my own spoken poem” I was going to ask if you had a copy of it to Post. But, like with most of theatre…it is Gone With the Wind. Not everything can be preserved can it? Although I rather bed Neil deGrasse Tyson might disagree. I wonder if the reason Music is the Universal Language of Mankind has something to do with the stardust within us all…
Lady Deidre HufflePillowFightStarter Yes…sometimes it is the music, sometimes the lyrics, sometimes the band, sometimes the cultural moment within which the song exists. Valerie June is one of those artists, like Kate Tempest who seems to have been “born” as an artist at an exact moment…
March 23, 2015 at 3:22 am
Giselle Minoli Stardust. There are some phrases that hit me and imbed so deeply that I cannot avoid hearing them in my mind when even the slightest reference is made. Stardust cannot but provoke the rejoinder of the memory of love’s refrain. I wasn’t a part of the Tin Pan Alley generation, but I nonetheless miss lyrics like these by Hoagy Carmichael:
“Though I dream in vain, in my heart it will remain my stardust melody, the memory of love’s refrain.
March 23, 2015 at 4:00 am
Bill Abrams Composed by Hoagy Charmichael. Lyrics by Mitchell Parish years later.
March 23, 2015 at 9:58 am
R. Harlan Smith thank you!
March 23, 2015 at 10:23 am
Ah R. Harlan Smith and Bill Abrams…here we are, sentimentally and nostalgically once again…brought together by Stardust memories of music. The entire beautiful lyric, followed by, for you two…a YouTube link to Hoagy’s own sweet version of his song (Bill…more fodder for your “cover” discussion on your own thread:
Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely nights dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
Ah but that was long ago
Now my consolation is in the stardust of a song
Beside the garden wall
When stars are bright, you are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale
Of paradise where roses grew
Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love’s refrain
PARISH, MITCHELL / CARMICHAEL, HOAGY
The Best of Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust vocals:
March 23, 2015 at 12:07 pm
Giselle Minoli I wish I could take some of the Stardust of my heart and send it to you so you could know how it made me feel to read all this … Thank you
March 23, 2015 at 12:21 pm
Nancy H you sweet woman. Although I can’t possibly know exactly what you mean by that…still, the “sentiment” is much appreciated. Thank you. Check out Kate and Brittany (and the rest of the divine Shakers) and Raeda and Monir…it’s an interesting mix of international artistic voices for sure. And Cheers!
March 23, 2015 at 12:49 pm
Good morning, Giselle Minoli Bill Abrams, good morning all. Yes indeed, it was here I ‘found’ Bill and followed him back to a Trombone Shorty post on his stream and that’s how we became friends.
Before anything else, did you know that Kate Tempest is in New York tomorrow, March 24th till Thursday?! (http://katetempest.co.uk/shows) If you can get tickets, GO! She is simply astounding live. I saw her before Christmas and though I’d followed her work for years, I was completely unprepared for the whirlwind of poetic brilliance she unleashed. Standing just feet away from her may have had something to do with it, but I could feel the whole room transformed by the time the evening ended. My bluesman husband, who
isn’twasn’t wild about spoken word and who I practically had to drag along, was speechless with awe after her second number, and as for me, well, I cried and tingled through most of it. it was that beautiful. Before Kate came onstage, a miserable-looking older gent came to stand next to us. Perhaps because I am somewhat a grump myself, I decided to break the ice by saying, “Hello, you look like you’d rather be anywhere else but here.” Whereupon he sighed and said he felt completely out of his depth. He turned out to be the classical music/opera critic for one of our Belgian broadsheets. His colleague who usually covered hiphop was off sick, so their editor sent him instead, and he wasn’t happy about it. Would you believe that by the time her show ended, this man had tears running down his face. “Incroyable. Incroyable,” was all he could manage to say while squeezing my hand before beating a path to the queue for her CDs and books. There, I think, is where her power lies, by creating art that smashes through all barriers and labels to speak to people so intimately, no matter who they are. It must take an incredibly open mind and a staggering amount of empathy to create work like that. I absolutely adore her and am looking forward to seeing her again in Antwerp in about a fortnight.
There was more I wanted to say, but while the sun’s out I must steal a march on my weeds and try to shift Monday’s crapulence after a concert-loaded weekend. Thank you for this and all your other lovely posts!
p.s. Digressing a bit from Messrs Carmichael, Parish et al, Joni had this to say about stardust
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
(And now I’m really going.)
March 23, 2015 at 2:47 pm
Meg L I DO know Kate will be in New York, but alas, the planets did not line up for me to see her…this time… There is MUCH that she willingly shares about herself…on her own website and on YouTube and on Vimeo…she’s the people’s poet, like Shakespeare was in his day and Dante in his. It’s nice that it isn’t hard to get to know here work.
Would this were true of the dance world…which does not share videos of it’s work, or the theatre world, where there are so many rules against it… And this is how art forms are lost. They become precious…and expensive.
Cheers to you Meg L (and did you not my personal introduction to Jin Shin Jyutsu…thanks to your missive about it? But that’s an entirely different post).
March 24, 2015 at 10:55 am
Giselle Minoli I’m sure there will be many other times, if her recent triumph over American audiences is anything to go by : ) Thank you again for the links to Raeda Taha and Monir Farmanfarmaian which I enjoyed, and yes, please, I would be very interested to hear of your Jin Shin Jyutsu experience one day.
May 14, 2015 at 12:02 pm
This is such a nice piece, and your comment is the perfect accompaniment. I’ve been introduced to The Alabama Shakes a bit ago, but now I know to listen to their work more closely-not to mention see the others’.