Category Archives: The Civil Rights March

Musical Legend: Mavis Staples

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Wishing an early “Happy Birthday to Mavis Staples!” Her birthday will be

July 10, 1939. Wow! In her 75th year of singing a rich and still fresh

combination of blues, soul, folksong anthems, and Gospel music, she

just put out another album in 2013!

Way to go, Mavis Staples!

Mavis’ newest album is titled, “One True Vine.” I learned more about

her personal journey through her life and also, a definite proposal

and romance I had no idea existed! You may not guess which famous

singer asked her “Pop’s” for permission to have her hand in marriage!

Mavis’ “Pop” put together the family singing act called, “The Staple

Singers” long ago, while she was at the tender, young age of 8 years

old! While the Peace Movement and Civil Rights Movement were the

ones who ‘took her there,’ the popular song, “I’ll Take You There,” was

what got the group on the top of music charts!

Listening to the lyrics, knowing it was originally a gospel song that

was intended for the listener to believe in going to a place called

“Heaven,” makes it even more spiritual and inspiring.

During the sixties, being on stage with Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King,

Jr. made her inspired and gave her so much encouragement for the

world. Her life was spent traveling around to big cities, performing and

feeling the wave of love and hope rising amongst African Americans.

On an interview with CBS Saturday Morning, (5/17/14), Mavis said that

being around MLK, Jr. was to feel ‘unbelievable joy.’ To be in his ‘presence’

brought her so much meaning to her life.

During this timely period in the United States, there was another

young ‘mover and shaker’ in the music industry. Mavis spent a lot of

time with that curly haired, good looking Bob Dylan.

There came a time, Mavis recounted that,

“Bobby told my Pops, ‘I want to marry Mavis.'”

Pops responded,

“‘Don’t tell me, tell Mavis!'”

While grinning happily, telling the interviewer this love story,

he asked with some excitement,

“What did you say to Bob?”

She reflected, smiling and said,

Well, remember I was very young, so I told him, ‘Let’s wait awhile.'”

She went on to say (the essence of this moment being the real meaning

in her words, paraphrased here):

She wondered what changes her life would have had, how marrying Bob

Dylan would have impacted her life and then used a phrase that I will

tell you the interviewer had to ask her to repeat and explain.

Mavis wondered what it would have been like to make ‘chrome-crushers’

with Bobby.

The words meant, children or babies with him. She was pondering this

and looking happy, still. She felt that she had been attractive, I

forget if she called herself a ‘fox’ or what, but he was definitely

someone she had love for and a huge crush on, too!

Mavis says that her life was spent ‘coming at it with her heart.’

When Mavis Staples won her first Grammy, she remembered that her

Pops had said not to worry about that but they were (basically)

singing for the Lord and “to reach people.” It was a great piece

of philosophy, not to worry about your awards in life, just what

actions you do and how it effects people.

At the 55th Grammy Award ceremony in February, 2013, Mavis Staples

won the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, looking very

stunning and vibrant. If you punch in her name and Grammy 2013, you

will see her the way she still looks. So beautiful inside and out!

She performed, by the way, in a tribute to Levon Helm, with the ‘likes’

of Elton John, Zac Brown Band and Mumford and Sons that fantastic

evening show to remember!

Mavis laughed, saying that she did, “Buy a stand for that Grammy,”

though!

The upbeat tone in her speaking and singing voice wins you over,

despite her vocal range not being as wide as I am sure it was in her

‘heyday!’ She has two songs that were very special to me.

I have sometimes, like many people do, worried about my appearance

and this song, “I Like the Things About Me,” including her comments

in the song disparaging her hair and her lips. She uses this verse,

“I like the things about me, that I once despised…”

“There was a time I wished my hair was fine…”

“There was a time I wished my lips were thin…”

In the end, the message was similar to today’s artist, Lady Gaga’s.

Mavis’ lifetime of having racial hurdles to overcome, make her

simple songs even more powerful. And timeless…

“Love yourself.”

(The essence of the lyrics was she came to the point in her life,

when she could accept ‘the me that I am.’)

The lively and pretty song, “Freedom’s Highway,” still has a world

wide application. As she mentioned the children (girls who were

kidnapped in Nigeria) and ‘everywhere looking at America to see what

we will do.’

“March each and every day,

Made up my mind and won’t turn around,

Made up my mind and won’t turn around.

There is just one thing,

I can’t understand, my friend.

Why some folk think freedom

Was not designed for all men,

Yes, I think I voted for the right man,

Said we would overcome.”

She repeated that ‘the whole world is wondering why America

is not stepping in to help those girls.’

Mavis Staples’ songs to look up on Youtube and listen to are:

“You Are Not Alone,” (2010)

“Eyes on the Prize,” (2007)

“One True Vine” (2013).

I was uplifted by Mavis’ energy and her loving nature shown in the

interview this Saturday morning. I needed only to see her face, to

remember that, not too long ago, Grammy Awards Show.

Where I had really listened to Mavis Staples’ singing and messages.

Adding to everyone’s loving voices raised in tribute to Levon Helm.

(If you were a fan of “The Band,” you were listening to his drumming

and percussion skills.)

Now go out, sing dance and march to the music!

September’s Coming Fast Upon Us!

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With August fast coming to a close, I would like to mention that there

was a very exciting August in my family and in this country fifty years

ago: The Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C. (August 28, 1963).

My parents shipped us off to someone’s house. I remember going to

my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Chardon, Ohio for the birth of my

youngest brother in 1959 but think that I went to the Senne’s house

when the Summer of 1963 arrived. When my parents heard in our

Episcopal church in Huron, Ohio, our preacher, Reverend Brownlee

ask for any volunteers to go to Washington to represent the church,

they excitedly signed up. They were always very glad they rode in the

church bus and thankful of their memories of that momentous time.

There have been more than a few times we have heard them recount

and regale us with their stories about how it felt intensely personal and

yet, also so significant to be part of that movement. When I was a teenager,

I had always wished their stories would have been about the big concerts

held during hippie weekends, especially in 1969: Woodstock! That would

have been “Way cooler,” or now teens would say, “Awesome!”

I am sure you have seen some of the coverage of that major lifechanging

event. I wish I could have been there with them, old enough to march for

civil rights. Or old enough to go to the concerts during Woodstock… Ha ha!

Lots of exciting family reasons to enjoy September! My son and his

wife, will celebrate their wedding anniversary. Also, he will be turning

a big whopping 32! My ‘middle child’ is really going to be that old? How

can that be? Also, September is my girlfriend and her husband’s

anniversary, too. The best parts of living in Delaware, Ohio are the All

Horse Parade, The Brown Jug Races (part of the Triple Crown harness

racing circuit, which includes “The Jugette” where the fillies run and

the “The Jug” where the male horses run) and the Delaware County Fair.

Here is a short little Fall poem,

“Autumnal Equinox

Sing a song of seasons!

Something bright in all!

Flowers in the Summer

Fires in the Fall.”

Written by Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stephenson.

Just a short commentary about this fine author of books, poems, travel

articles and essays. Did you know that Mr. Stephenson accomplished this

all in a mere 44 years? (Born: November 13, 1850. Died: December 3, 1894.)

Imagine writing such wonderful and exciting books as “Treasure Island,”

“Kidnapped,” and “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!”

Here are some dates to remember in this coming month of September!

September 2nd-  Labor Day

September 5th-  Rosh Hashana

September 8th-  Grandparents Day

September 8th also is the Delaware All Horse Parade!  We have one of the

largest selections of horses in a parade in this region of the country.

September 11th-  Take a moment or more of silence to remember 9/11.

It is now and forever will be known as “Patriot Day.”

September 14th-  Yom Kippur

September 14th also, our Delaware County Fair begins and goes until

September 21st.

September 19th-  Full Harvest Moon

“For a few nights around this full moon there is bright moonlight

early in the evening. In ages past, this meant farmers could continue

to harvest after sunset.” (Farmer’s Almanac, 2013. The 2014 issue goes

on SALE this month!)

September 20th-  POW/MIA Recognition Day. Honor all servicemen, but

especially think of those who were held captive or have given their lives

and may never be recovered to be buried.

September 21st-  International Day of Peace. Celebrate with kind words

and actions.

September 22nd-  The Autumnal Equinox, (see poem above.)

Another September suggestion in my Farmer’s Almanac, 2013, is to~

“Put a brown paper bag over sunflower heads to protect from birds

and other wild animals, along with allowing them to dry for the seeds

to be harvested.” This will also contain the seeds, preventing them from

falling, too.

I cannot help myself from having the lyrics going through my head while

writing this post.

It is mainly because I have always loved Neil Diamond, but hope you may

check this song out. It is so sentimental. I will write the beginning

three sections of the song,

“September Morn

Stay and let me look at you

It’s been so long, I hardly knew you

Standing in the door.

Stay with me a while

I only wanna sing for you

We’ve traveled halfway ’round the world

To find ourselves again.

September morn,

We danced until the night became a

brand new day.

Two lovers playing scenes from

some romantic play

September morning still can make me feel that way.”

Here are three of my favorite young children’s books about Fall,

if you have any favorites, please add in the comments section!

(Just Fall books, let’s wait until October for Halloween choices.)

1.  “Apples and Pumpkins” by Anne F. Rockwell, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell.

2.   Clifford the Big Red Dog book titled, “Picking Apples and Pumpkins.”

3.  “Apple Farmer Annie” by Monica Wellington.

I hope you will have some fresh off the tree apples, enjoy a caramel apple or

some pumpkin seeds. I love the pumpkin roll cake with the cream cheese in

it. Also, my good friend uses cinnamon candies in her apple cider warmed in

the crock pot. The smell is heavenly and the taste spicy and good!

Have a fantastic beginning of Autumn in the month of September!