Monday, April 05, 2010

Eddie S. Glaude and Josef Sorett on Blogging HeadsTV discuss "THE" Black Church

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. (Princeton) and Josef Sorett (Columbia) have a very engaged conversation about the black church as an institution which is built upon a recent essay written by Prof. Glaude entitled, "The Black Church is Dead."  I hope you enjoy this discourse between two very outstanding scholars as much as I have. This is hardly the last word on this topic both from an intellectual or pragmatic point of view, but it definitely helps to frame the future of the study of religion in the African American experience and also conversations we have outside of the walls of the academy.

Also be sure to read:  "Updated with Response: The Black Church is Dead—Long Live the Black Church" by Anthea Butler, Johnathan L. Walton, William D. Hart, Josef Sorett, Ronald B. Neal, Edward J. Blum, and Eddie Glaude, Jr.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Remembering Marvin Gaye: Patron Saint of the Merging of the Sacred and Secular

Today, April 2, marks the birthday of one my favorite artists, the legendary R&B singer, Marvin Gaye. His death on April 1, 1984 rings out in my childhood memory like watching the NASA Challenger tragedy. If memory serves me correctly, I was in the car with my father when the news broke over the radio waves.

I grew up in a house where Marvin Gaye's music was always being played. Though I knew of his early Motown hits, it was the older Marvin that I came to appreciate.  For instance, when he sang the national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game in 1983:

Of course, this was the not first time that he ever sang the anthem at a public sporting event on television (he also sang for the 1979 Larry Holmes v. Ernie Shavers fight, which was more traditional). Even in his earlier renditions of the song it was definitely Marvin. 

I won't draw this out into some long essay about Marvin Gaye (thought at some point I'd like to and likely will), but I think he was that special kind of artist that truly and some ways completely personified the coexistence of the sacred and secular aspects in African American culture. You can hear the gospel medleys in the classic tunes "Pride and Joy",  "Can I Get a Witness", the passionate pleas for love in "Distant Lover" and "Let's Get it On",  or even the classic "What's Going On", Gaye is keyed right into the prophetic aspects of our expressive culture.  

I think that innate ability--to tap into and embody our emotions, especially during live performances,  is what gave him and so many others, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Al Green, Roberta Flack, Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, and Stevie Wonder (and so many more) the staying power that they have.  They are American Music and American Music is Black Music--the very essence of triumph over tragedy, faith amidst hopelessness, joy that emerges from the pain of oppression.  They make life beautiful for us all through their music.  Marin Gaye was sensual, prophetic, joyful, and had pain that he expressed in his music. I think of him of the patron saint of the sacred and secular. Some may agree or disagree.  Regardless, today I'm going to take a minute to just reflect on the music, the man, and his life.

Thank you Marvin for sharing your gift with us. Your music still lives.

Distant Lover (live):

"What's Going On/What's Happening Brother"

"Let's Get it On" (Live)

Sidebar: My favorite tune growing up in the video age was listening and watching "Sexual Healing" though many so called purists of Gaye's music find this tune to not be among his best.  My feeling is that Marvin Gaye's music is like decide what you like and go with it, no matter how critically acclaimed it may or may not be...if the tune speaks to you then that is all that matters.  Peace.
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Negrointellectual by Vernon C. Mitchell, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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