31 August 2008

Sunday 31 August 08 Chat

My album of September (yes, I'm early but I make no apologies) is the fantastic, the gob-smackingly brilliant, Sentimental Streak by Catherine Russell.
Who she? She's a long-time backing singer, previously a dancer, whose mum, Carline Ray, is a bassist and vocalist and dad was pianist and orchestra leader Luis Russell, a co-bandsman with Louis Armstrong and eventually a serious rival to Duke Ellington in the New York band era of the late 20s and early 30s.
Catherine's jazz heritage is very much in evidence throughout this wonderful CD, and the tones of Bessie Smith, Lena Horne, Nellie Lurcher, Alberta Hunter and the like come through loud and clear. But alongside the old voices and strengths is a thoroughly modern presentation delivered with class and joy; from the word go we're in no doubt that this is an artist who loves what she does.
I've seldom heard an album that thrilled me so much. Get it while it's in stock!

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The BBC series, Who do you think you are? has been pretty hit and miss of late but last week's show with Jerry Springer was a piece of drama to compete with the best on TV.
Clearly capable and much more intelligent than The Jerry Springer Show or America's got Talent would have us believe, this ex-mayor of Cincinnati proved what he was made of, figuratively and literally, in this heart-rending episode.
Born in London in 1944, his Jewish parents escaped from Nazi Germany three days before the outbreak of the Second World War. But Jerry's grandmothers failed to escape and were murdered in the Holocaust. With them died the knowledge of the Springer family's ancestry.
In an intensely disturbing programme, Jerry discovered his great-grandfather had been involved in the fight against anti-Semitism 50 years before the rise of the Reich, and followed his grandmothers' journeys to their shocking conclusion in Hitler's death camps.
Jerry's struggle to take in the extent of his family's suffering was made all the more poignant when he was introduced to a previously unknown cousin and we viewers felt with him the sense of relief that at last something decent and good had come from this frightful barbarism.
As the programme proved and as Jerry himself says, everyone in Nazi Germany was complicit in these brutalities against their fellow man, and it's all the harder to believe because the acts happened only 60 years ago and in the heartland of Europe.

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45 years ago, on 28 August 1963, Dr Martin Luther King Jr made his famous 'I have a dream' speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
The 'Dream' was a departure from the prepared text but urged on by
Mahalia Jackson, "Tell them about the dream, Martin", Dr King delivered one of the most outstanding speeches of modern times.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom became a defining moment for the American Civil Rights Movement and the march and Dr King's speech put pressure on the Kennedy administration to advance Civil Rights legislation.
In 1964 Dr King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Civil Rights Act was passed and signed by President Lyndon B Johnson on 2 July following the assassination of John F Kennedy on 22 November 1963.
Dr King was murdered in Memphis on 4 April 1968. His 'I have a dream' speech causes him to be remembered not only for his Civil Rights achievements but also as one of the world's greatest orators;

  • "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'
  • "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
  • "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
  • "Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
See Dr King's 'I have a dream' speech here; read the full text here.

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