Posts Tagged ‘The power of music’


By Vernalee
“The Lord will make a way somehow; Amazing Grace; Precious Lord; There will be a brighter day ahead; What a friend we have in Jesus; Wade in the Water; Yes, Jesus loves me” are those old school spirituals that we have sung for years. Harmonized with or without music, the old school gospel songs manage to hit a note in our souls. The naturalness of A Capella harmony is soothing as your body rocks from side to side. Music is universal. It unites people of all races and religions. Its powers of penetration should never be taken for granted or underestimated. It is a wholesome and stimulating form of worship. As King David was an accomplished harpist, The Book of Psalms is a collection of songs; words of praises put to music. Amazingly and subconsciously, we rely upon songs to get us through hard times or simply through the day. The old fashioned gospels are the songs that I heard my Mother singing while she cooked. Those are the songs that Black folks sang in the cotton fields in Mississippi making $2.00 a day. From the days of slavery, songs and worship were the only form of freedom that we had. Some of the singers’ voices of old were so powerfully regal that they could make the pews rock and blow the roofs off of those old wooden church houses. Old fashioned gospel songs lyrically carried historical memories and significance. Some of which are reminders of “places” that we wish not to return. These songs however did “get us over!” As old as the lyrics are, when we sing them today, their freshness reflective to everyday life still uplift us; motivate us; and make our battles easier because of our faith and belief in God. Oh yes, when we lift our voices to The Lord; to the heavens, it is a validation as a contemporary tune harmonizes, “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain.” “Give me that old time religion. It was good enough for my Mother, my Daddy … It is good enough for me!” Praising God is timeless. When we get the spirit, day or night – no matter where we are, we can sing about God’s wonderfulness and wonderfully sing praises to him! Happy Sunday! God bless!
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PostHeaderIcon The Queen and me

By Vernalee

Aretha Franklin doesn’t know me from Adam’s house cat. I have waved to her countless times and looked her straight in the eye on many occasions as she performed. I was once so close to her in the audience that she could have sat in my lap. She and I have had so many good times together despite the fact that we have never physically met. However, we know each other well philosophically in the spirit, if not in the flesh. We have grown up together though miles apart. I regard her as a very close friend. My, oh my, how we have shared experiences that only she could sing about. As I am an aficionado and know the lyrics to all of her songs, word by word, I can eloquently and emotionally hum with Aretha.

Music is a universal connector to our emotions. For sure, it has transformation powers. I will never forget the day that I placed Aretha Franklin’s greatest hits in my car as I pulled out of the garage. Listening to her CD’s can be intoxicating even when you are a non-drinker like me. By the time I arrived at my destination about 30 minutes later, I had gone through several emotional phases. I felt the sensitivities that Aretha sang about as she melodically belted out “Chain of fools, Respect, Ain’t never loved a man, Do Right Man, Bridge over troubled waters, Don’t play that song for me, and Ain’t no way” in her never to be duplicated angelic voice. Admittedly I am musically prejudiced, but nobody can sing about life, relationships, and the power of love like Aretha. She can really stir you up! Proving it was more than an idiomatic coincidence, when I reached my destination, clearly I was an emotional wreck after having experienced several mood swings. It took me about 15 minutes to compose myself. What an effect her songs had on me that day!

Without question, Aretha’s velvety voice has an incredible octave of ranges. The range of the emotions that she sings about extends just as high as the notes that she can hit. Many women have felt the intensity of her voice encapsulated in their emotional souls as they have experienced similar feelings – some concealed; others revealed. Emotions ranging from being deeply in love to a fool in love; from having a man that logic told you was an unwise choice, a man that you could not turn a loose to courageously leaving him like a thief in the night; from being a weak woman to one who demanded the utmost respect! Aretha’s songs cover a myriad of emotions that she has undoubtedly felt, experienced, and was audacious enough to sing. Love and the pain of hurt can make one do that. Wasn’t it B. B. King who bellowed, “he lives the life he sings about in his song?” Many songs are often merely life experiences set to music.

Singers, like Aretha Franklin (excuse me Aretha), as I have been on a first name basis with her for over 40 years – sing the life that they live or have seen others live. For certain, her songs have touched upon many of my emotions. In spite of it all, I have felt relieved and rejuvenated through her music. Sometimes, it is refreshing to know that you are not alone; that someone else has felt what you felt particularly when you thought otherwise. To know that others have been young fools, middle age fools, and in some rare cases old fools is not necessarily consoling, but it is a fact of life. Recognizing that others have endured pain and came out better in the exit than the entrance provides a therapeutic reassurance. Surely, there is nothing new under the sun!

Many of Aretha’s songs taught me lessons as they laid out a recovery roadmap. She is unequivocally the Queen of soul and has been crowned such. She can magnificently sing her innate gospel and make the baby grand piano majestically walk across the stage before coming back to her so that she can rhythmically touch the ebony and ivory keys. Lest not forget when she spontaneously filled in for Luciano Pavarotti singing the operatic favorite, “Nessun Dorma.” What a natural resource, she is!

My daughter once said “Beyonce is my girl, just as Aretha is yours.” Each generation has their loves; their favorites. Aretha is definitely mine! It’s amazing how close we feel to singers who have brought us through so much heartache as well as pleasure. They can make us cry, laugh, smile, fight, dance, forgive, forget, pray, reminisce…need I say more! That is what songs do as singers and songwriters put their lives – and ours – to music.

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