CD Review - Earth Wind & Fire: Illumination
Devoted Spirits - "Tribute To Earth, Wind and Fire"
Maurice White appeared to be about the same height as me (I am 5' 9'').
But as he waked thru the entrance to the Ballroom for the rehearsal, Maurice White appeared to me to be a majectic figure, an African King among his subjects.
He said nothing
He didn't have to
And then suddenly it struck me...I guess that I have always known it...
...But at that moment, my vision was clear
And the truth emerged in my mind for the first time...
And I was able to see VERY clearly that...
(Maurice White looked to me like Hallie Sellasie)
Prior to the rehearsals I had talked with both Ralph Johnson and Verdine White and later as they walked past me going into the rehearsal, they both gave me that "nod".
Yall know what I'm talking about, right?
That "nod" that Black men give to each other when they pass on the street
It's an acknowledgement of mutual respect
Sorta like saying...
"I dunno what might go down here, but if something does, you KNOW that I got your back"
Later inside of the rehearsal I talked more with Ralph Johnson and Verdine White about music, politics, Blacks on the internet, etc.
We were the ONLY Black media at the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies.
I got the distinct impression that as PROUD as I was to see Earth, Wind and Fire inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, that they were just as PROUD to see US there.
They knew that we weren't there to cover Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt or the Lovin Spoonful.
(no disrespect to them)
THEY KNEW THAT THE ONLY REASON WE WERE THERE WAS TO COVER THEM AND THE MOONGLOWS.
Soul Patrol knows it's history
Soul Patrol is all about documenting that history
Soul Patrol is all about spreading the GOOD WORD about OUR majestic past, present and future culture
Li'l Kim presented EWF for induction
Perhaps if other "negro media" actually cared about OUR majestic past, present and future culture, this young lady might have actually known enough about Earth, Wind and Fire to have been able to recognize one of their songs when it was played (she didn't)
Once again I say that it is up to US, the people who have first hand knowledge of these artists and their connection to OUR glorious history to EDUCATE younger people about it.
How else will they be equipped to PROTECT our culture from the CULTURE BANDITS?
Earth, Wind and Fire knows this.
Their music right from the start has always been about the advancement of African culture.
I was PROUD to have been there and maybe even a little prouder, when they gave me that "brotha's nod" as they walked by :)
One last point about EWF and the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Induction...
Just wanted to mention that my brother Mike was there as well.
The very first concert I ever went to was in 1972 Mike and I went together to see the show, just like we did on Monday It was in 1972 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY and we saw...
Earth Wind and Fire!!!!!!!!!
their opening act was Maxxayn)
So going to see them inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, together... ...almost 30 years later
It was kinda special for the two of us :)
I'm rambling now...
However, I just wanted to get those thoughts out.
(I think that we made a few new friends)
Earth, Wind & Fire also known as "The Elements" Just those three words are enough to pique my interest, make me stop what I am doing and just stop and take notice. My cousin introduced me to EWF when I was 14 years old. She lived in North Carolina, and was always telling me which groups and songs were coming out down there. The album was "That's the Way of the World." I told her "Oh, this is the same group that mde the jam
"Mighty Mighty." We went to the record store and bought the album. When I got home and started playing the album, I thought the grooves were funky, great to dance to. But then I started LISTENING TO THE WORDS of "Shining Star", and "That's the Way of the World."
I got so absorbed into reading the lyrical sheet that was enclosed, (and always enclosed on an EWF project),learning the names of each of the fellas, that I didn't realize that two hours had passed until my mom yelled that she was going to scream if I didn't turn that stereo off!
After that I began reading everything I could find, which wasn't a lot because in the early days, Maurice White used to say "let the music convey the message. EWF never did a lot of the shows that were out during that time, ex. Don Kirchner's Rock Concert, etc, and they attended very few award shows. I think I've seen them in concert more than I have on TV.
Alright I think I was 14 or 15 when EWF came to Madison Square Garden. I HAD TO GO!!!...With my step-dad in tow, for 2 1/2 hours I just lost my mind. I was spellbound by that pure sound, by the beautiful glittering costumes, by the vocals of Maurice White and Philip Bailey, by the keyboardmaestro called Larry Dunn, by the funkiest drummer called Freddie White, by the swirling sounds of the guitars of Johnnie Graham and Al McKay, the percussion of Ralph Johnson, funky saxman Andrew Woolfolk and the baadest bassist Verdine White. Let's not forget the Phoenix Horns either! How could anyone forget the magic tricks?...Verdine levitating in the air?..Maurice and Philip disappearing into the pyramids. Going to an EWF concert was stepping into a real fantasy. One of the things that one noticed at an EWF concert were the people. There weren't just black people, there were a whole lot of white people, Hispanic people, definitely a rainbow coalition, and that always made me prouder of them because it meant that the message was really getting out there.
After my first EWF concert, I became a serious groupie. when they came to the East Coast, I went as far North and as far South as I could. I have never had a group come close to the feeling that I get when I put on an EWF album. The feeling? it could be called a peacefulness, definitely tranquility. Above all, there's a message in every song if one just takes the time and let's that message come out.
When I'm down and need a little pick me up, I put on "Turn It Into Something Good." this is the second song on the Raise album. When its mellow time, I listen to "Devotion," which has to be my all time favorite slow jam by EWF. "Devotion Live" (from Gratitude) or "Devotion" from the "Open our Eyes" album, eith one is fine with me. When I'm in a jammin' mood, "Can't Let Go". This is the secon cut on "I Am."
One of my least favorite EWF albums was Electric Universe, EWF was going in a direction that made me kinda nervous, and I had hung in with them for a long time. It had some good song, but the vibe was not something that I was used too.
When EWF announced that they were splitting, I felt like I was splitting also, but I kept the faith that they would return, and they did with "System of Survival" and "Millenium." I've read recently whre EWF has signed a four album deal and will be coming out with a new album soon. They can also be heard on the soundtrack for the Spike Lee movie,"Get on the Bus."
It is hard to express in words how I feel about a group that has brought so much joy to millions of people all over the world. I may be the one who has penned this, but I also know that the richness and the spirtuality of Earth, Wind & Fire, is something that has touched everyone. I hope that I have given enough of my feeling on EWF to warrant my twenty year love affair with them. I just hope that folks will take a few minutes and listen to the music, and let the message flow....