Funk, Faith, Praise (Fly Away Trayvon)
I never intended to release this mix. I considered it to be unfinished, in need of a polishing. Today, I heard it and it allowed me the space to breathe, to remember, to let go, so in that sense, it is perfect and I’m offering it AS IS. AS US. For Trayvon.
Two years ago when Gil Scott-Heron died I compiled and mixed music that spoke to the depth of joy and despair that filled his life, and ours as we witnessed his decline. Halfway through the mix I was confronted by the truth of Gil’s life—it represented the collective experience of the people who brave “Winter in America.” For centuries we’ve layered our bodies to survive, to endure this cold. And through activism, scholarship, art, meditation, movement, faith, we stand, sometimes shattered, but always fierce in our ability to release the pain through Gospel, Bluesy Soul, Slum Beautiful Funk. And to Marvin Gaye, Phyllis Hyman, Brenda Fassie, Whitney Houston, Don Cornelius, Vesta, Michael Jackson, Tammi Terrell, Billie Holiday, Donnie Hathaway and all the others who died on the front lines of black music, I call on you and the legacy of your voices and your fingertips, to offer us a way to move through it, beyond addiction, beyond depression. Thank you for speaking truth to power, and for providing the rhythm to accompany the resistance, the healing. This mix allows Shirley Ceasar, The Clark Sisters, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Tramaine Hawkins, Esther Phillips, Gil Scott Heron, Nina Simone and even Richard Pryor to help us better understand what it means to channel the anguish through art.
Funk, Faith and Praise speaks to the historic tension between the secular and the spiritual realm in Black music, and the wear and tear on black bodies in a space that institutionalizes our dehumanization. And while sometimes our reactions are self-destructive, usually in an attempt to numb the pain, we stay singing and clapping, witnessing the lifeless bodies dance into the new world. Transcendence.
I watched your face Sybrina Fulton. Black mama. Fierce. Angry and Graceful. I thank you for your demonstration of dignity. And for you Tracy Martin, Black Father, I felt the knowing in your weeping eyes. Because of your family and this experience my belief is that we will love each other through this, more fiercely than ever, more clearly.
In the loving, gracious and tender words of Adrienne Maree Brown, “Keep going Trayvon, don’t look back here, nothing here for you but our stranger’s/familiar’s love twisted tonight to a grief. Go on home, this place doesn’t know how to love you. Axe.”
Adrienne’s words held me close last night. Shortly after learning about the verdict, I was fortunate enough to see her message, right before I hit that point of feeling utterly powerless. Through her words I found a way to live between the space of history and the future. Listen to the mix, then see, feel more here.
-DJ Lynnee Denise
Dr. Horace Clarence Boyer (Gospel Historian, Musician)
You Brought The Sunshine The Clark Sisters
Stand On The Word (Larry Levan Mix) THE JOUBERT SINGERS
Love Lifted Me Jessy Dixon
Message to the People Shirley Caesar
Dr. Horace Clarence Boyer (Aretha Interlude)
I Get High Aretha Franklin
Slipping Into Darkness Carl Bradney
Take Me Just As I AM Lyn Collins
Anger (Alternate Extended Mix) Marvin Gaye
Whitey on the Moon Gil Scott-Heron
Home Is Where The Hatred Is Esther Phillips
I Can’t Go Without You Dorothy Morrison
Goin’ Up Yonder Tramaine Hawkins
Children Of The Ghetto/Stanhope Street The Real Thing
The Pusher Nina Simone
Black Messiah Richard Pryor