Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Get ready this Monday night as our Detroit Lions will be playing their first meaningful nationally televised contest in too many years to recount. In comes the Monsters of the Midway (Chicago Bears) to try and do what Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Minnesota and Dallas could not — beat the Motor City Cats. How did the inept Lions get to the point where they are in the national conversation about NFL dream teams? How do we understand what is happening? Is it real?
Whatever the cause or situation, the 4-0 Lions are set to put their effort on national display this Monday and it should answer a lot of questions about where these Lions really stand in the NFL hierarchy.
No matter the Lions outcome versus the Bears, they are moving in the right direction. This 2011 team is for real and the linchpin behind their elevation is general manager Martin Mayhew. Sure, head coach Jim Schwartz is the organizer of the Lions’ on the field dreams, but Mayhew is the architect of the overall team’s collective. Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the tenth round (262nd overall) of the 1988 NFL Draft, the cornerback out of Florida State University played in eight NFL seasons from 1989-1996 and started in Super Bowl XXVI for the Washington Redskins.
What makes Mayhew different than ex-Lions president and general manager Matt Millen is his very real scholarship concerning NFL talent and his organizational skills. Also, after retiring from the NFL, Mayhew attended Georgetown University Law School. He graduated in 2000 with a J.D. degree. Millen brought Mayhew into the Lions organization as senior vice president, but when Millen in 2008 was released, he became the first African-American general manager of the Lions.
Mayhew’s skin color has long since been a non-issue as he has made all the right moves that are moving the Lions’ franchise into respectability in the NFL wars. Mayhew’s drafting, his acquisitions and free agents have all elevated the future direction of the Lions.
When Detroit Lions owner and chairman William Clay Ford announced the promotion of Tom Lewand to team president and Mayhew to general manager, I said way to go. Not only was I confident in the future direction that Mayhew was going to lead the Lions, so were all in the Lions administration. “Martin is a great friend,” Lewand said. “He has been exemplary for this organization since the day he walked into the door. I consider it a pleasure to work with him. I always knew he would be a great GM. I’m not surprised that this thing is moving in a positive direction. This is what I expected three years ago when we started this process.”
Said Lions senior vice president of Communications Bill Keenist: “You will not find person with more character and integrity than Martin. Everything he has done is not surprising. He’s a great judge of talent and he knows how to put a team together.” Said Lions coach Jim Schwartz: “The big thing is we do not stand alone, because he is very good at getting a collective voice. It’s not about just getting good players. Martin has set an environment where the scouts, coaches and administration all have a voice in the final decisions.
“From the beginning after he interviewed me in the selection process I knew there was something special between us. I had great confidence that we could all be on the same page and get pieces in here that would help move this franchise forward.” So far the 4-0 Lions have put the Matt Millen era in the rearview mirror and Mayhew is making all the right decisions.
“I feel great about the process,” Mayhew said. “I can’t say enough about the great job that our coaches and our scouts have done in this process. As I’ve said before, we believe the best thing to do is to take the best player available (in the draft), because we feel through free agency we can fill holes with better quality players.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2011 15:26
Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
There is the old saying, “Never let them see you sweat.” Although the context is different, the “soul men” have never minded if you saw them sweat. In fact, they prefer that you did.
These gentlemen, who made a major and lasting impact on the music landscape, stood apart from the average R&B singer because they sang hard and from the gut.
They didn’t believe in sugar-coating their records and live performances in order to appeal to a broader, Whiter audience. Without a doubt they all had, or in some cases have, large White followings, but the attraction is that very rawness.
This week we are paying homage to some — notice we said some — of the greatest soul men in the history of the genre, a genre that is not currently in vogue but will always have a presence. The last young soul man was Gerald Levert.
Since the music and careers of James Brown, Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye have been documented on so many occasions, we are not including them. However, their spirits prevail throughout the story.
ONE OF THE strongest and most prolific soul men was singer, songwriter and guitarist Bobby Womack, whose recording history is awesome. His catalogue reads like an unabridged Dictionary of Soul. We cannot name them all, but savor these gems for a few minutes, and perhaps give them another listen: “That’s the Way I Feel About Cha” “Woman’s Gotta Have It,” “If You Think You’re Lonely Now,” “Lookin’ For a Love,” “More Than I Can Stand” and the duet with Altrina Grayson, “(No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Lookin’ Up to You.”
Wilson Pickett, who was born in Alabama but at one time lived in Detroit, was a master of the “soul scream.” When he would cut loose, and the music volume was up, the walls sometimes shook. Pickett launched his career with the Detroit-based group the Falcons and sang lead on one of their biggest hits, “I Found a Love.” But the urge to go solo was strong, so he moved on.
“The Wicked Pickett” etched a permanent spot in Black music history thanks to dozens of hits, including “In the Midnight Hour,” “Land of 1000 Dances,” “634-5789,” “Funky Broadway,” “Don’t Knock My Love” and “Engine Number 9.” THE TEMPTATIONS have always been a soulful act — although they can be soft and sweet too — but the key element in their soul mix was the great David Ruffin. He could wail, first in a lower range and then up into the stratosphere. Ruffin seemed to have joined the Temptations precisely at the right time.
“My Girl” gave the Temptations their first No. 1 hit, and from there it was a long ride on the hit express. Among the stops on that ride: “It’s Growing,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It’s You That I Need,” “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep,” “(I Know) I’m Losing You” and “My Baby.”
Far less celebrated is the great Marvin Junior, lead singer of one of the longest-enduring groups in the history of popular music, the Dells. Most people do not know his name, but have heard his blow-theroof- off voice. It is a voice, in fact, that was a huge influence on Teddy Pendergrass, another great soul man.
The Dells began having hits in the mid- 1950s, but after signing with Chess/Cadet in the late 1960s, were elevated to a new level of popularity. That hit surge started in 1968 with “Stay In My Corner” and continued with “Oh What a Night” (both songs were remakes of their ’50s hits), “Always Together,” “There Is,” “I Can Sing a Rainbow/Love Is Blue,” “Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation” and “The Love We Had (Stays on My Mind).”
OTIS REDDING was about as pure as soul could get. He poured his heart into every song he sang. His fans could feel it every second on each record and every moment on stage.
Redding was one of the main reasons for the Memphis sound explosion that started in the early 1960s and carried over into the ’70s with an impact that still reverberates.
For Redding it all began with “These Arms of Mine.” No one, including the great Jerry Butler, had ever heard anything like it. Redding never let up: “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now),” “Try a
Little Tenderness,” “Mr. Pitiful,” “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa” (Sad Song),” the original version of “Respect” and more.
Ironically, Redding’s biggest hit, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” reached No. 1 after his passing.
Sam & Dave, also from Stax, were double dynamite, two for the price of one. Like Redding, they never held back, incorporating everything they learned in church into the R&B world. Sam Moore and Dave Prater benefited greatly from the songwriting and producing skills of Isaac Hayes and David Porter. People will never tire of “Hold On, I’m Comin’” or “Soul Man.” Also great: “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby,” “I Thank You,” “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” and “You Got Me Hummin’.”
CAN YOU think of a singer more soulful and powerful than Eddie Levert of the still-goingstrong O’Jays?
It is said that Levert could sing in a large auditorium without a microphone and still be clearly heard. On “Soul Train,” host Don Cornelius asked him how he could sing with such power. Levert jokingly attributed it to “eatin’ all those greens, cornbread and ham hocks.” The O’Jays have given us a cavalcade of great songs, including “For the Love of Money,” “Just Let Me Make Love to You,” “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train,” “Work on Me” and “Livin’ For the Weekend.”
Johnnie Taylor epitomized soul. He had made records before, with varying degrees of success, but he took off like a rocket in late 1968 with the No. 1 hit that everybody was listening to and singing along with, “Who’s Making Love?” Taylor, like any soul singer worthy of the title, got to the heart of any song he was singing, and applied that same passion and energy on stage.
That first smash was followed by a long string of successes, such as “Jody’s Got Your Girl and Gone,” “Disco Lady” (with its dance and sex connotation), “Take Care of Your Homework,” “I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)” and the somewhat sexist but funny “Cheaper to Keep Her.” And let’s not forget Solomon Burke, the big man with the big voice and personality.
Philadelphia-born Burke was not just a singer. He was also a preacher and a businessman, an entrepreneur who sold everything from “love potions” to food he prepared to artists on the road with him, especially when racism prevented Black people from being served in southern restaurants.
Anyone who doesn’t know what “soul” is need only to listen to some of Solomon Burke’s records. They have their pick from such essentials as “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” “Cry to Me,” “Got to Get You Off My mind,” “If You Need Me” and “Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye).” Thank God for the gentlemen of soul, the soul brothers, the soul men.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2011 15:19
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Starting Oct. 1, an estimated 12,000 families will be off the State of Michigan’s welfare rolls because Lansing is saying it must do budget cuts and we must live within our means in a tough economy. So the state moved to put a stricter four-year limit on cash welfare benefits saying it will grant exemption to those with disabilities who can’t work, relatives of a disabled spouse or child, and those who are 65 and older and are not receiving Social Security or other benefits.
Advocates for the poor and vulnerable say that is an excuse because the “least of these” are often not part of the agenda of government in the first place. Which ever side you are on in this debate, one thing is clear: Detroit is expected to account for almost half of the estimated 12,000 welfare recipients who will no longer receive benefits from the state. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing told an audience of students, faculty and business leaders at Wayne County Community College District downtown campus last week that the city is putting together a contingency plan — working to locate grants — that could aid those living in the city who would no longer be receiving welfare benefits, among other things.
Notwithstanding, the politics of welfare and who gets what has catapulted urban farming to the center of discussions of survival in this tough economy.
Is urban farming the answer to an economy in Detroit that has left some jobless, homeless and others with no other means to make a living for their families?
Malik Yakini, a longtime Detroit advocate, entrepreneur, educator and pioneer of Africancentered education, said while urban farming is not the whole answer because “the situation we face is a very complex situation, it is part of the answer for the economy we are dealing with.” Yakini, whose brainchild, the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), has caught the attention of students from area colleges, including the University of Michigan who are studying models of transformation in urban centers like Detroit, said urban farming is critical for Detroit’s economic survival at this time.
“Food economy is the first economy of every society,” Yakini said. “If we are able to provide a significant amount of money from the food we produce, it can stimulate the economy because of the potential to hire more people to work on urban farming.”
What Yakini is doing is becoming a template for sustenance and survival because “in order to solve our problems we have to have a multifaceted approach.”
That approach has led Yakini and his staff to establish D-Town, a four-acre organic farm in Detroit’s Rouge Park, which has become the site of visits from college students, residents politicsand others who see urban farming as being under-utilized.
“So far the response to the produce has been very good because people like the idea of fresh produce,” Yakini said.
However, the response in terms of active participation is not as strong as he would like it to be among African Americans because agriculture is identified with slavery and sharecropping, even though the D-Town farm is an act of self-reliance.
This past weekend, D-Town had its Harvest Festival showcasing organic vegetable plots, beehives, hoop houses for year- round food production and a compost operation. The event also provided a playground for children who visited the farm with their families.
“It’s one of our largest events,” Yakini said. “It’s a consciousness raising activity that benefits the community in terms of the cooking demonstrations we have. We teach people how to prepare fresh vegetables.”
Despite the advent of relatively cheap fast food that is luring a lot of people because of its convenience, maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires fresh food. “Our food culture is being lost compared to how my grandmother cooked,” Yakini said. “We have a whole generation of young people growing up without the extensive knowledge of how to prepare fresh food.”
The urban farming debate continues in Detroit and recently attracted the attention of Rev. Jesse Jackson who called the concept “cute but foolish” because, according to Jackson, Detroit needs investment and industry, “not bean patches” to solve its economic woes.
Yakini said Jackson’s remarks mischaracterize the urban agriculture movement.
“People are wise enough to know that we need a variety of ways to utilize land in Detroit,” Yakini said. “We are not suggesting that urban farming should replace industry. There is no singular solution to the economic problems. We still need industry.”
There have been other conversations around urban farming at the government level but Yakini said, “What they are talking about is planting Christmas trees, not food production. I think because we do have so much vacant land it gives us the opportunity to have food production in Detroit like they do in Havana, Cuba, which has created an example of urban agriculture around the world.”
He believes that if much needed resources are dedicated to urban farming, Detroit has the potential to produce 10 to 20 percent of the produce that residents consume that will help address the economy because “there is money in the food system and the processing industry.”
The other aspect, he said, will be “institutional support” — enlisting organizations and groups as clients such as the school system, and other institutions. But it is not only urban farming that Yakina and others are concerned about in creating a social enterprise that addresses food security.
They want to be actively involved at the local government level and influencing policy that supports equitable distribution of food, ensuring that food policies are in concert with the demands of consumers and that there is a proactive approach to address any structural bias that lends itself to “food injustice.”
That, he said, explains why the organization is working to create a retail food co-op store “because as the economy is in decline it’s becoming more and more apparent that the supermarket model is not the best model that keeps revenue in our community. It extracts revenue.”
Urban farming creates an alternative economy with the possibility of job creation.
“We need to rethink this whole idea of the economy and look at things locally,” Yakini said about an issue that has ignited debate in the wake of the collapse of Wall Street and the big banks.
But Yakini is not alone in his thought.
In 2008, I sat down with Archbishop Desmond Tutu for an interview and he echoed a sentiment that is at the center of the politics of local economies and has been a rallying cry for those who have called for a more extensive examination of the current economic system because of “unjust policies” toward the poor and less fortunate. “We are meant to live in a community of interdependence. If we continue to treat others as outsiders — and as you see, when they are outsiders, they will tend to get the thin end of the stick — then we will be in trouble. I hope that although we will be speaking from a position of weakness, we should be saying, ‘No, we want a fundamental revamp of the economic system,” Tutu said.
While the economy is still sending people to the unemployment lines in Detroit and across Michigan, what should happen now that hunger is bound to increase? “We would encourage everyone to start growing something,” Yakini said. “That way they can reduce the amount of money they are spending on food.”
Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 12:29
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
Tools for Schools drive collects almost 50,000 supplies for kids in need.
In its first year, Comerica Bank’s Tools for Schools supply drive made the grade, providing more than 49,000 supplies for local students in need. In partnership with Operation: Kid Equip, Comerica collected donations of school supplies at its 197 traditional banking centers in Michigan, which were distributed to deserving schools across the state. In Metro Detroit alone, almost 35,000 supplies were distributed to various schools in need throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, including schools in the Detroit Public School District.
Reinforcing Comerica’s strong commitment to Michigan, the supply drive was held as part of a Back to School campaign aimed at providing students the tools they need to succeed this year.
Rhonda Davenport, senior vice president and regional manager for Comerica Bank, said the community’s support of the drive was impressive. “This drive could not have been successful without our customers, employees and others who donated supplies. I’d like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you.’ “It’s great to see our colleagues and customers come together and provide support for children in their community,” said Davenport. “With so many people stretched financially due to the economy, the expense of school supplies can present an added burden to many families. We’re thankful that together we could help relieve some of the burden.”
A recent survey from the National Retail Federation projected parents with children in grades K-12 would spend an average of $603.63 on back to school shopping this year. “We know it’s been tough times here in Michigan, and some of the items students need can be costly,” said Davenport. “We want to make sure we’re doing our part to help kids in our community go back to school prepared.”
The vision of Operation: Kid Equip is to create a community where every child’s basic needs are met. The nonprofit provides school supplies, books and dictionaries to children who are at-risk, while also working to increase awareness of the issues facing school-aged children, to help them succeed in school and in life. “Kids can’t write without a pencil or color without a crayon,” said Menachem Kniespeck, founder and chief executive officer of Operation: Kid Equip. “We’re happy Comerica joined us in addressing this important need in our communities.”
Comerica colleagues continue to give their time to help nonprofit organizations such as Operation: KidEquip. Last year, colleagues provided more than 42,000 hours, or $867,000 worth of employee volunteer labor hours to deserving organizations throughout the state.
For more information on Operation: Kid Equip visit www.operationkidequip.org.
In addition to the Tools for School supply drive, Comerica sponsored and hosted a Backpackpalooza event at its new Michigan market headquarters, 411 W. Lafayette in downtown Detroit.
Volunteers from Comerica Cares, Operation: Kid Equip and CityYear Detroit helped distribute 1,000 free backpacks to local students in need. The backpacks were filled with school supplies such as notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, rulers, hygiene items and a Comerica piggy bank.
Janice Tessier, vice president and manager of corporate contributions for Comerica Bank, was one of the many volunteers on hand at the event.
“The children and families at the event were truly grateful to receive this support,” said Tessier. “It’s an important need that can often be overlooked.”
Eight-year-old Jayla Forest was especially excited to volunteer at the event, which was held on her birthday. Jayla helped distribute backpacks and supplies with her mother, LaTrese Forest, who works as a Comerica Bank facilities coordinator for CB Richard Ellis.
“I thought it was a teachable moment,” said LaTrese Forest on the decision to bring her daughter to volunteer at Backpackpalooza Detroit. “I want her to be appreciative of what she has, and to grow up with a giving heart.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 16:48
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
Life is strange. Most people sleep, wake up and eat and sleep and wake up and eat. It is a gift that too many take for granted. As long as things are moving along most of us never think about how and why that happens.
Donshell and Pamela English have come face-to-face with the reality of the everyday function of the body. Not that every organ in the body is not important; however, the English family has had to come to a hallelujah meeting with their kidneys.
The kidneys play a vital role in our health. As the renal organs, the kidney’s job is like a chemist, which is to constantly monitor the quality of the blood. Its main job is to ensure that the blood circulating around our body is pure and are free from harmful organisms like bacteria, viruses, waste products, excess water and many more.
The bean-shaped organs that act like the waste disposal of the body, became the focal point in the lives of Donshell and Pamela. They are both teachers and have been married for 18 years and have two children, Kaylen and Kendall. Donshell was an exceptional athlete at Cass Technical High School, graduating in 1986. He attended Eastern Michigan University, where he was instrumental in helping the team win the MAC Conference Championship and the California Bowl in 1987. He played defensive end and served as team captain.
Strong and athletic, Donshell appeared to have everything a person could want sitting right in front of him. Taking over the Southeastern football program in 2002, in two years he took the Jungleers to its first Public School League (PSL) Division IV Championship, and they were runners-up for the City Championship.
It did not stop there as he guided Southeastern to a two year record of 22-3 (2008 and 2009). English and the Jungleers won a city title in 2008 and took all on an unforgettable ride to the state semifinals and played in one of the most memorable and talked about games in PSL history — a close loss to Sterling Heights Stevenson. At the peak of his successful life, his kidneys took control, forcing him to resign from the game he loved to focus on getting his health in order. “Fourteen or fifteen years ago I was told my numbers were not right,” Donshell recalled. “I did everything the doctors told me to do as far as medicine and other stuff. It all worked out okay until 2007 when I started feeling bad and having pain. Eventually they diagnosed me with diverticulitis. I had to have surgery where they removed part of my colon and I had to wear a colostomy bag for a year. Man my life changed unbelievably.”
Through coaching, teaching, and the kids, he managed to find a deterrent that helped him not dwell too much on the health issues.
“Being a coach in the inner city is a full time job,” he explained. “There is so much more than just coaching needed if you want to do the job right. I had to make sure they were going to class, I had to clothe some of them, feed some of them and be a father or big brother when needed. Football became a safe haven for many of my kids.” Donshell was one of the PSL’s best coaches and mentors until January of ’09. Not feeling too good for a while he finally went to the doctor and his test results showed his creatinine level had climbed to 15. The next morning he had his first kidney dialysis and stayed on a schedule of dialysis three times a week until this past June.
“We were at a meeting and the question came up about a donor kidney, so I raised my hand and said I’d try,” Pamela recalled. “After some tests I found we were a match and it was a no-brainer from there. It was life and death and the quality of life possible for my husband and the father of my kids.
“We never had any doubt that my kidney would take, because we have a strong faith in God. After the surgery. recovery went well for both of us. We have had great support from our church and family. We are trying to live life to the fullest. We are happy!”
Said Donshell: “Everything is working fantastically. It is a true blessing that I’m done with dialysis. I hope to be back coaching next year.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 16:23
Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
We all know the adage, “You win some, you lose some.”
Nowhere is that more true than in the recording industry. The emphasis is always, of course, on the successes — the hits. But the landscape is also strewn with failures — the flops.
Every recording artist, no matter how big they are, and how many hits in their catalogue, has had their share of misses, some they would forget if they could.
There can be all kinds of reasons for a record not making it. Sometimes quality is lacking. At other times it might come up short in commercial appeal. There may be a lack of promotion. Sometimes people just don’t like the record, or it sounds so much like other records. The possibilities are plentiful. One legendary Motown artist had a reputation for blaming the record promotion man if one of his records stiffed. Ike Turner went so far as to say that if an Ike & Tina Turner record failed, it was Tina’s fault because she “didn’t sing it right.” (Never mind the fact that the record may have been substandard.) Some records have a low chart showing (like No. 85 in the Top 100) while others miss the charts completely. NOT MANY artists have as many hits to their credit as Stevie Wonder, but those who are familiar with, for example, “Treat Myself,” “Tomorrow Robins Will Sing” and “Workout, Stevie, Workout,” are few. Earth, Wind & Fire had so many hits that a threedisc box set was required to showcase them. But raise your hand if you recall “Spread Your Love,” “Moonwalk” and “I Think About Lovin’ You.”
Anybody remember the 5th Dimension’s version of “Love Hangover”? Most likely you don’t and that’s because the better version by Diana Ross crushed it. (They were out at the same time.) Prince was a virtual hit machine, but “The Morning Papers,” “Just As Long As We’re Together” and “7” are just vague memories to a limited number of people.
The Temptations have had numerous greatest hits collections, and many of the songs are classics, but they had poor showings with, among others, “Error of Our Ways,” “More on the Inside” and “How Can You Say That It’s Over?”
And then there’s James Brown. The Godfather of Soul’s box set consisted of four discs. But that doesn’t negate the less than spectacular sales of “Stay With Me,” “Star Generation” and “Oh Baby Don’t You Weep.”
Few female artists are even in the same league as Aretha Franklin when it comes to major hit records, many of which are iconic. So the poor performance of “This Is For Real,” “Someone Else’s Eyes,” “If You Need My Love Tonight” (with Larry Graham) and “Half a Love” had be disappointing. (I thought “Half a Love” was great.)
SHALAMAR is fondly recalled, but people are inclined to scratch their heads at the mention of “I Owe You One,” “You Can Count On Me” and “Don’t Get Stopped in Beverly Hills.”
Sly & the Family Stone was a groundbreaking group, but by a certain point it was clear that Sly’s writing and producing skills had declined to an alarming extent. Hence, such duds as “Le Lo Li,” “If It Were Left Up to Me” and “Family Again.” One of Luther Vandross’ finest recordings and
most beautiful songs was “So Amazing.” Why it only made it to No. 94 on the Billboard magazine Top R&B Singles chart, and never showed up on the Pop chart, is inexplicable.
Mary Wells ranks as one of the foremost songstresses in the history of R&B, but she too came up short a number of times, as with “Strange Love,” “Such a Sweet Thing” and “I’m Learning.”
Parliament/Funkadelic had a boatload of hits that made them a supergroup in that genre, but there was also a “canoe” of misses, including “One of Those Summers,” “Connections and Disconnections,” “Smokey” and “Ride On.”
WHICH BRINGS to mind the legendary Smokey Robinson. Unless you are a hard-core fan, in the most “intense” sense of the word, you probably draw a blank on “Shoe Soul,” “Easy to Love,” “Who’s Sad?” and “Don’t Play Another Love Song.”
The O’Jays totally deserve having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they’ve had something like 50 solid hits. But “Let Me Show You (How Much I Love You),” “Heartbreaker,” “Don’t Take Your Love Away” and “Peace” are among the group’s disappointments.
Ashford & Simpson are among the best. However, not every song was “solid as a rock” in terms of chart position. Placing below No. 75 were “Been Found,” “I’m Not That Tough,” and “It’ll Come, It’ll Come, It’ll Come.”
What about the glamorous superdiva, Diana Ross? Well, a very limited number of people remember “If You’re Not Gonna Love Me Right,” “Up Front,” “Sleepin’” and “Take Me Higher.”
THE ISLEY BROTHERS are all-time favorites all over the world, but some of their records are forgotten, such as “Come My Way,” “All In My Lover’s Eyes,” “You Better Come Home” and “I Once Had Your Love (And I Can’t Let Go).”
The public and radio programmers “walked on by” these Dionne Warwick songs: “I Didn’t Mean to Love You,” “Sure Thing,” “(I’m) Just Being Myself” and “Where My Lips Have Been.”
Did Marvin Gaye have any non-successes? Yes, a few, including “Joy,” “Heavy Love Affair” and “Sandman.”
Al Green is a legend, but even legends have to take a “next time” attitude when a record has a poor showing. A gambling man would wager that songs like “I Can’t Stop,” “Wait Here” and “Your Heart’s In Good Hands” are not remembered by most people.
Fortunately for Al Green, and nearly all of the other artists cited in this story, there were far more hits than non-hits, and that is something to be more than grateful for.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 16:14
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Mariha Smith, others deserved to grow healthy, wealthy and wise in Detroit
I recently attended the funeral of Mariha Treance Smith at Triumph Church to pay my last respects to a child that I had never met, but a child who, like all children brought into this world, deserved the right to life. The dignified funeral she received could not mitigate the shameful death that abruptly ended her life.
Mariha is the beautiful, adorable five-year-old little girl who went missing from her home and was later found strangled and burned beyond recognition in a vacant building 15 blocks away from where she lived.
Detroit police announced earlier that they are questioning a person in connection with the crime.
Hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects to an innocent little girl who was removed from her home and slaughtered as if her life meant nothing to her parents, the community, the world and God.
As I sat on the back pew in the church observing every sorrowful moment of the service, it dawned on me that what I was witnessing was not only the homegoing of a sweet little girl who was denied a chance to grow up, but also yet another painful reminder of the community’s failure to take back our neighborhoods. Because of that failure, we have become desensitized to violence to the point that it has become a ritual for living in our community. That is unacceptable.
While this cycle of violent crime continues to eat at the heart of our community and take our children from us, we have accepted another damaging rule: Don’t tell on individuals like the one who killed Mariha because snitching is “wrong.”
Some of us have concluded that snitching is only wrong until we find that we or someone we love has become the latest victim in the ongoing, senseless violence that is stealing the future of our children. We can’t have two standards for snitching.
When a crime of this sort happens we should as a community speak out — loudly and clearly.
Yes, I understand the long and sometimes contentious relationship between law enforcement and the Black community, but we cannot sit back and say the “no snitching rule” cannot be applied when looking for child killers or culprits of other heinous crimes. We are only hurting ourselves and the future of Detroit.
Mariha’s killer should face the letter of the law before another child’s name is written in the soil in letters of blood.
Have we thought for even a moment what Mariha’s last cry was?
What was her last wish when those monster hands took her into the vacant building to bring an end to a life that was just starting to blossom?
Did Mariha feel that we as a community failed to protect her from the cruel hands of her murderer?
Did she leave this world feeling uncared for?
How did Mariha feel about police-community relationships in ensuring a safe environment for her?
What was her future ambition?
How long did she cry before she took her last breath?
Her death and the deaths of other children that have taken place in Detroit tell us that something is wrong in our community.
It it time to make some drastic changes.
If the most vulnerable in our community don’t feel protected, then our talk about a vibrant future is in vain.
Thankfully, Detroit 300, a group of concerned people who want to put a stop to the senseless violence in Detroit are making a statement by patrolling crime scenes and looking for the culprits. To change and build our community will require groups like Detroit 300 whereby committed individuals volunteer their time, disregard the “no snitching rule” and move to ensure that our neighborhoods do not become war zones.
Individuals and organizations with resources need to support Detroit 300 because change has to come from the ground up, not top bottom.
If we support efforts that may not be directly tied to our safety as a community, we can surely put some muscle behind a community organization like Detroit 300 and help them do what law enforcement cannot typically do because they understand the language of the streets.
Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee has commended the group and is working in partnership with the organization.
Because this partnership is the sort that is needed between the community and law enforcement to create an environment conducive to all children living happily, safely.
Anything less is unacceptable.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 19:41
Category: Top News Written by Cornelius Fortune
The not-so-subtle shift in temperature suggests the coming fall, and yes, the new fall TV lineup. Favorites will return…other shows might not make it to December. One thing you can say about most of the television networks – they will take creative risks, and often, that’s enough to keep us watching.
– Cornelius A. Fortune, managing editor
FROM SMALL screen, to big screen, and back to the small screen. ABC has a lot riding on its “Charlie’s Angels” reboot.
FOX HAS high expectations for its new sci-fi show, “Terra Nova.”
EDWARD JAMES OLMOS will guest star on Showtime’s “Dexter.”
Idris Elba reprises his role as John Luther, in the new BBC America miniseries.
Wednesday, Sept. 21
CSI, CBS, 10 pm.
“Law & Order: SVU,” NBC, 10 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 22
“The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 8 p.m.
Charlie’s Angels, ABC, 8 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 25
“Family Guy,” Fox, 9 p.m.
American Dad, Fox, 9:30 p.m.
The Simpsons, Fox, 8 p.m.
Boardwalk Empire, HBO, 9 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 26
“Terra Nova,” Fox, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 28
“Luther,” BBC America, 10 p.m.
“Dexter,” Showtime, 9 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 5
“South Park,” Comedy Central, 10 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7
“Sanctuary,” SyFy, 10 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 10
“Bored to Death,” HBO, 9 p.m.
Scare Tactics, SyFy, 9 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 16
“The Walking Dead,” AMC, 9 p.m.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 19:36
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
In one of the most anticipated Detroit Lions home openers in too many years to recount, the long suffering Lions’ faithful scurried on down to Ford Field all fervent and passionate in believing that 2011 is the year the Lions actually are a competitive NFL team.
After the Lions’ first possession of the game, I immediately felt it was indeed safe to postulate that somebody is watching over the Lions in 2011. How else can you figure quarterback Matthew Stafford throwing an interception to Kansas City safety Jon McGraw on the Chiefs’ 44 yard line?
However, on the ensuring runback by McGraw, he fumbled and Tony Scheffler recovered to keep alive the Lions’ drive. Eventually the Lions concluded that fortuitous drive with a Stafford 15-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson, to make the score 7-0 en route to a rousing 48-3 home opening victory.
The win over Kansas City pushed the Lions’ record to 2-0 as they now prepare to go on the road to combat Minnesota. This stat may mean nothing at all, but with the 2010 season ending with four straight wins, the 4-0 preseason and now the 2-0 start to their 2011 campaign, the Motor City Lions have actually won, for them, an amazing 10-0 consecutive games.
Sure I understand last season and this preseason mean squat, but the players and coaches know that they have not lost a game in a while. No one in the Lions’ camp is saying anything about it, but it is evident that there is a winning attitude in the Detroit locker room.
“We have a lot of talent on this team and we are off to a good start,” said Johnson, “but we all know we have not accomplished anything yet. We made a lot of big plays, but we have to clean up our overall execution.”
There may be a number of technique things the Lions need to improve on, but what we have seen so far with Stafford coupled with the Lions’ three receivers, Johnson, Nate Burleson and rookie Titus Young, are indeed a formidable collective.
Against Kansas City Stafford tossed four touchdown passes and completed 23 of 39 for 294 yards. He also avoided being sacked by a solid Chiefs’ defensive line.
Said head coach Jim Schwartz: “We’ve got good players around Stafford, but you have to be able to make accurate passes. He knows where to go with the football. We have guys that can make plays, but you have to make accurate passes and that’s what he can do.”
Sure it is early in the season, but others and I are drawing comparisons to this 2011 receivers’ crew to the best trio of receivers the Lions have had since Herman Moore, Brett Perriman and Johnnie Morton more than a decade ago.
The rookie, Young, latched onto five passes for 89 yards, Burleson snatched seven balls for 93 yards and Johnson snatched two touchdowns on only three receptions.
“What makes a quarterback special is putting the ball in the right place in tight coverage,” Burleson said. “That’s one of Matt’s specialties. He has the arm and the confidence to squeeze the ball into tight places.
“Yeah it is starting to look like we complement each other perfectly. The organization did a good job of putting us all together. We are all a little different type of receiver and that is what gives us the potential to have a special year.”
Said Young: “Matthew’s such a competitor. Sometimes he doesn’t even care about the look. He trusts us receivers so much. His confidence and competitiveness just leads to making plays.”
When the Lions drafted Young I was like, “Who is this guy?” Then he missed almost all of training camp with a hamstring injury, but he showed me Sunday why the Lions used the first of their two second-round picks in last April’s NFL Draft to select the former Boise State standout.
The Lions’ win over the Chiefs was their largest margin of victory (45 points) in the history of the franchise for regular and postseason games. The record was set in the 1957 NFL Championship where the Lions beat the Cleveland Browns 59-14. Even so, coach Jim Schwartz was cautious and somewhat guarded.
“We can still play better,” Schwartrz said. “We didn’t start this game very well. We gave up a lot of yards rushing in the first quarter. Again, we haven’t played our best football.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 19:28
Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
If something you are watching on television (or in a movie) makes you laugh out loud, that is special.
For the past couple of weeks I have been watching, and thoroughly enjoying, the first four of the five seasons of “In Living Color,” the sketch comedy show that ran from April 15, 1990 to May 19, 1994 on the Fox Network.
I say “the first four” because the fifth season was a dud due to the fact that the people responsible for the show’s existence and who played such key roles in making it all work, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Damon Wayans, Kim Wayans, etc. — from the first family of comedy — had left and the void was “unfillable.”
Younger brothers Shawn and Marlon had also been part of the fun, and later had a hit TV show of their own. They also starred in movies.
Keenen Ivory Wayans and Damon Wayans created “In Living Color,” produced by Ivory Way Productions in associaion with 20th Century Fox Television, and wrote for it and were among its stars.
Granted, this was not the first ensemble comedy sketch show. There had been, for example, the great, highly influential and equally groundbreaking — and still funny — “Laugh In” in the 1960s.
But in keeping with this being in another time and place, “In Living Color” was different. It had an urban flavor — even though the cast was not 100 percent Black — and there was the belief that more was possible than had been done on television previously.
And we can’t forget the show’s hip-hop elements. Heavy D & the Boyz were the perfect choice to rap the intro in seasons one and two.
Not since “Laugh In” had one show introduced so many performers who became major stars, including Keenen Ivory Wayans, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, Jamie Foxx (an Academy Award winner for “Ray”), Tommy Davidson, Kim Wayans, David Alan Grier and Kim Coles.
Others were just as outstanding and should have become bigger stars, such as T’Keyah Crystal Keymah and Kelly Coffield.
Jennifer Lopez is a magastar today, not to mention an “Amerian Idol” judge, but back in those days, starting with the third season, she was one of the fast-stepping “Fly Girl” dancers.
The “In Living Color” sketches and characters were priceless.
Who could ever forgetKeenen Ivory Wayans as Arsenio Hall, Mike Tyson or Billy Dee Williams? Jamie Foxx as the unattractive but full of confidence Wanda? (And the very talented Tommy Davidson was the perfect “victim.”)
Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans as corrupt preachers Rev. Dr. Carl Pathos and Rev. Ed Cash? David Alan Grier as Calhoun Tubbs, the old blues singer who insulted people in his songs? Kelly Coffield as Andrea Dice Clay, a “feminized” send-up of foul-mouthed comedian Andrew Dice Clay?
Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier as Blaine Edwards and Antoine Merriweather, the over-the-top effeminate, and naughty, arts critics? Kim Wayans as the well-meaning but often unsanitary waitress? Jim Carrey as the steroid-addicted female bodybuilter Vera de Milo?
Keenen Ivory Wayans as the obnoxious but fun-loving, Jheri curl-wearing Frenchie, wearing clothes as outdated as the dances he liked to do? Damon Wayans as Anton Jackson, the filty, potty-mouthed drunk, homeless man? Kim Coles as Downtown Julie Brown?
T’Keyah Crystal Keymah as the stereotypical, rude tour guide LaShawn? Kim Wayans as the gossipy Benita Buttrell? (“I’m not one to gossip so you didn’t get it from me.”) Kim Wayans and David Alan Grier as Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, the old couple who were “still together” after many years but were always insulting, and trying to kill, each other?
Damon Wayans, Kim Coles, T’Keyah Crystal Keymah and Tommy Davidson as the hard-working Jamaican Headley family? Kelly Coffied as Magenta Thompson, th acting school teacher who got insulted and slapped around in every scene? Or Damon Wayans as the mean Homey the Clown, who was working as a clown as part of his work release program?
“In Living Color” also featured an array of popular recording artists of the day, including En Vogue, Jodeci, Kris Kross, MC Lyte, Mary J. Blige, Public Enemy and Arrested Development.
Not surprisingly, “In Living Color” ran into a lot of problems with the censors.
The series is available on home video and has been in syndication via various sources.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 19:24
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the Michigan Chronicle Digital Daily newsletter!