Chaka Khan, recently nominated for the 2016 Rock Hall of Fame, has collaborated with the greats of Rock and Soul from Stevie Wonder (Tell Me Somethin Good) to Prince (I Feel for You), to Steve Winwood (remember her soaring on his Higher Love?) to Quincy Jones (Back on The Block).
Her recently unearthed version of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing includes guitarist Eric Gales and funk producer/musician Ira Schickman.
Chaka Khan has been one of my personal Sheroes since I was 12 years old, horrifying my Mama by belting out ‘Tell Me Something Good”, “You Got The Love” , and “Sweet Thing” behind my locked bedroom door.
In addition to possessing talent and beauty , she seemed powerful–larger than life, and blessed with what I often felt cursed with: too much of the muchness, that inexplicable thing I was accused of that made grown men bother me, boys scared of me, and my mother struggle to keep me under wraps.
Of course, at that age I didn’t know about her on-going struggles with addiction and self-doubt.
I didn’t think I was special because I thought everyone could do it.–Chaka Khan to The Daily Mail UK, 16 August 2014
Later, as a young woman, when a friend who worked with one of her producers shared that part of Chaka’s story with me, I understood, empathized, and prayed for her peace.
Later as still as she emerged from years of drug-abuse and ill health to re-blossom personally and revitalize her long career, I admired her resilience and radiance.
If Chaka doesn’t make it into the Rock Hall of Fame something is seriously wrong in the balance of the Universe.
Catching Up With Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: The Moxie Bee Interview
Last week The Moxie Bee featured the poetry of the multi-talented Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman, who also sings as Khadijah Moon.
You can read about how her stage name evolved into its current celestial incarnation at her Artsy Moon blog.
Calling her a renaissance woman almost doesn’t cover her creative output: poetry, short stories, plays, songs, the production of events and programs, and soon–films.
Featured here today is her new single, titled “hunger”.
The song was written in response to her mother’s death during a period of estrangement, as she dealt with the pain of losing her with unfinished business left behind.
Khadijah shared some of the song’s back-story on her blog:
I wrote this song “hunger “less than a month after she died. I have questions.
I have this intense love. I have a lot of anger. What came out was a letter to her in song about all of that. My life partner, who is also my producer, composed beautiful music on his guitar to accompany the song andthisis what we came up with.
I shared the song on my Facebook personal page yesterday and received feedback from others who had similar relationships with their mothers, could relate to the sentiment. I received feedback from folks who have (or have had) struggle-free relationships with their moms and still could find value in the words of the song, even more grateful for their relationships with their mothers.
The song is beautiful; the sound is warm and smooth, with an undertone of ache that is never maudlin.
I encourage you to buy it, download it, and add it to your collection.
But wait–there’s more: Khadijah is also known as The Creative Midwife™,which is the business she created to help anyone with a creative dream bring it to life.
The Moxie Bee: What came first for you: singing, poetry, creative mentoring?
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: I’ve been writing since I could write words, I think.
I remember writing songs, as a little kid (inappropriate songs, at that) and short stories as early as elementary school.
Whenever I learned a new form of writing formally, I embraced it lovingly and would play around with it on my own.
It went hand in hand with my voracious appetite for reading.
I’ve written poems, plays, songs, short stories and (incomplete) novels nonstop since childhood.
Very thankful to have had some of my work published, plays produced and songs recorded.
I began loving to sing as I started to fall in love with musical theater and getting to sing more in music classes.
I recall the kick off of my singing on stage being this one year where I convinced my 5 year-old sister to sing “My Favorite Things” in the school talent show while I played it on piano.
I was so proud that I had learned how to play it. When we went to audition, she ran off stage in the middle of me playing and, to play it off, I started singing it.
The teachers auditioning us loved it. I wound up singing it for my 6th grade graduation that year instead of the talent show.
The Moxie Bee:What music most fuels your urge to create?
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: Honestly, I don’t know
The Moxie Bee: What inspired you to start working as a creative midwife–helping others birth and fulfill their creativity?
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: I began to brand myself as a creativity coach when I started to get inquiries from others on how to self-publish after I published the first anthology in the Liberated Muse book anthology series.
I started doing workshops and then decided to offer basic editing and proofreading services until one of my clients, the late Nathan Seven Scott, started wanting to work with me in more of a coaching capacity.
I helped him with organizing his concepts, which led to our sessions really becoming breakthrough moments.
I would assign him readings of online resources and really worked with helping him build his skills which led to him really expanding his goals to writing more books, building a writing team, etc.
My work with him inspired me to want to do more with other clients.
I chose the name The Creative Midwife because the most significant moment in my life was giving birth to my daughter with the assistance of a team of midwives who were the epitome of grace, nurturing and expertise.
My beautiful brown baby– now a pre-teen– would not have arrived safely (during a hurricane, no less) if it weren’t for the care of the midwives who helped me.
The Moxie Bee: Who are your creative heroes and heroines?
Khadijah Moon: Toni Morrison is one of my main inspirations lately when it comes to writing.
Her unapologetic attention to her characters, crafting them from a perspective not dependent on a white gaze is empowering, inspiring and validating.
I have always loved the poetry of Langston Hughes.
His simple phrasing coupled with ironic yet charming storytelling always captivated me as a child and I love it to this day.
The way he said a lot without writing a lot is a gift very few have.
Lastly, I cannot fail to mention Robert Frost.
Learning about him in 10th grade English at Friendly High School in Maryland with the best English teacher every, Mr. Poniatowski was a turning point for me as a writer and reader.
Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” engaged me in literary analysis and understanding how words can be arranged in a way to say so much that can be interpreted in different ways based on the experience of the beholder, like visual art.
I can go on and on about people who I look at as s/heroes but those mentioned have been the most consistent.
The Moxie Bee: Have you participated in the Black Poets Speak Out project?
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: Yes, I have participated in Black Poets Speak Out.
Habib Koite’, of Mali by way of Senegal, with his band Bamada, is one of my most beloved and favorite musicians. In the past I’ve bought doubles of his CDs because I wear them out with constant play.
He’s one of those externally beautiful people whose angelic visage seems to communicate the positivity flowing beneath the surface.
He plays his guitar in a beautifully unique way; he tunes his instrument to the pentatonic scale and plays on open strings, which is how one plays on the kamale n’goni, N’goni are traditional West African rhythm harps.
The n’goni have been in existence since 1352, in the court of Mansa Musa, the great ruler of Mali. It is believed to have evolved into the banjo in North America after Mande people were exported there as slaves.
There are three main types, the djeli, the donso and the kamale.
The djeli n’goni were traditionally used by griots to accompany singing. The donso (hunter’s harp) are larger than the kamale n’goni and have six strings,
The smaller kamale n’goni (young man’s harp) have four or eight strings and are tuned a fourth higher than other n’goni.
They are a more modern addition to the West African stringed instrument family, introduced in the 1960s and made popular in the 80s and 90s in the Wassalou style of music,
In Habib Koite’s songs and style of playing you can hear a blend of the Malian Wassoulou and dannsa musical styles, as well as African-American blues, and Spanish flamenco.
In fact, in 1999 Habib and American bluesman Eric Bibb toured in support of the Putumayo compilation Mali to Memphis, which celebrated and paid tribute to the connections between Malian and American blues music.
The predominant style played by Habib is based on the danssa, a popular rhythm from his native city of Keyes. He calls his version danssa doso, a Bambara term he coined that combines the name of the popular rhythm with the word for hunter’s music (doso), one of Mali’s most powerful and ancient musical traditions. “I put these two words together to symbolize the music of all ethnic groups in Mali. I’m curious about all the music in the world, but I make music from Mali. In my country, we have so many beautiful rhythms and melodies. Many villages and communities have their own kind of music. Usually, Malian musicians play only their own ethnic music, but me, I go everywhere. My job is to take all these traditions and to make something with them, to use them in my music.”–Habibkoite.com
Music critics worldwide have dubbed Koite a modern griot; this isn’t far-fetched as he hails from “a noble line of Khassonké griots, , traditional troubadours who provide wit, wisdom and musical entertainment at social gatherings and special events.” (http://www.ifas.org.za/)
I’ve heard fans describe him and his band as “West African Sufis” for the vibrant spiritual quality of their sound.
I don’t know if there is some factual basis to that opinion, but I do know how uplifted and soothed I feel when I listen to, sing, or dance to their music.
The song I’m featuring here, “Sirata” is one of my all-time favorites.
It was featured on “Mali to Memphis” as well as Koite’s 2001 CD “Ma Ya”.
It’s not a lullaby, but can lull you with its spiritual, somehow healing beauty. This song, has been known to drive grown men to tears. Yes–for real!
My son, Ibrahim, now 12, and I saw Koite’ and Bamada perform at Wolf Trap in the late winter of 2005. Ibrahim was under two years old then; it was his first concert, other than those of his Guinean dancer/drummer/ fire-eater father’s, which he attended as an infant.
Our seats were in the front row. He was transfixed!
At first Ibrahim sat next to me, but when the entire audience got up to dance and stayed up for the rest of the concert, he attached himself to me.
He spent the rest of the night dancing and swaying with me, his legs wrapped around my waist or hip, his eyes trained on the stage.
At one point Habib Koite and Ibrahim locked eyes as Habib leaned down and played his guitar directly to him.
He nodded to me and smiled, then moved on. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say I felt we’d been blessed.
Days later Ibrahim asked for both a guitar and a balafon.
How could I say no?
Habib Koite latest album, Soô (which translates to home) was released in 2014. Soô takes a direct and loving look at Koite’s homeland of Mali, a country torn apart by violence and terrorism over the last few years.
The title of the CD also symbolizes the dream of home for a man who makes his fortune away from friends and family for long stretches of time.
Ever the touring road warriors, Koite and the new lineup of his band, Bamada, are in the midst of a world tour.
I hope to take Ibrahim to one of their U.S. shows in 2016, in either Washington, DC or Raleigh, NC.
In May of 2015 they performed at the Africa Festival in Germany. The 90 minute video below showcases their performance.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The embedded videos below were removed because the Automatic Play option could not be disabled. Click the link below to enjoy the concert and the bonus interview in full.)
The African Lullaby Giveaway has ended with a Winner!***If You Won, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ! Thank you!***
The winner is of the giveaway now being verified by Amazon.com and will be sent the African Lullaby CD shortly. The identity of the winner will not be revealed to me due to Amazon’s privacy policies.
That said–if YOU are the winner, please reach out and let me know, or let me know how you like the CD once it arrives.
I appreciate all of my supporters so much. However, I have to share with you that although 30 readers entered the giveaway, only a handful actually followed through by 1) following me on Twitter 2) Liking the Giveaway Blog post and leaving a comment and 3) subscribing to the blog to get updates and new posts.
Actually, NOBODY left a comment on the blog.
Not one of you rascals! Really?
Well, live and learn. I will be using a differententry/award process for my NEXT giveaway.
Yes, there willbe others. Especially closer to the holidays. Please do subscribe to The Moxie Bee by entering your email address in the form on the upper right hand sidebar. (Note: I do NOT spam or sell address lists.)
I appreciate all who participated and I leave you with my son Ibrahim’s favorite lullaby, when he was small, “Diyore” by Abou Sylla,
The song is special to Ibrahim, and in some ways to me, for a few reasons. Sylla is one of his father’s family names. His father, Mamadouba Sylla was related to Guinean ruler Sekou Toure; when Toure was deposed his friends and family started turning up dead. The Sylla family quickly and quietly moved to Senegal and took on the Diolla name of Badji, which actually has its roots in India. (I’m saving that story for another day.)
Also, Mouminatou Camara, family friend of the Badji/Syllas and renowned Guinean dancer/drummer/singer/teacher, sings the background vocals for Abou Sylla on the African Lullabye CD .
I’ve met her a few times at classes and performances; I can testify she is a swirling force of nature and talent.
Ibrahim’s father, Assane, a drummer/dancer/fire-eater/dance teacher from Kindia near Conakry, Guinea, taught me a different version of this song, the one Ibrahim’s grandmere Fatou Sylla sang to Assane as a boy.
He could only remember part of it, so we sang the first part to Ibrahim twice and then repeated the last line. When he didn’t want to hear the CD, he wanted his father’s version, which went something like:
Bo Bo Bo, Bo Bo, Casalaba. Nan de mafulay.
Kin da sa buray.
Bo Bo Bo, Bo Bo, Casalaba. Nan de mafulay.
Kin da sa buray.
Back then, when Ibrahim was an infant, I asked Assane what it meant; he explained that basically it’s saying Don’t cry little child, your mother had to go to work, but your aunt will make you something nice to eat when you wake up. So go to sleep.
A few years after, when Assane and I separated and later divorced, I didn’t want to sing his version because it made me feel sad, not for me, but for my son. Yet, Ibrahim was insistent; he wanted his song.
So, I sang it. We sang it together, and soon it stopped feeling sad. It became our song then; it still is. And, I’m still trying to find a full translation.
“Mariami is a Brooklyn based recording artist noted for an eclectic mix of Soul, R&B and Pop music. Labeled as thetalented daughter of Georgia with a magic voice, Mariami was born in the Republic of Georgia (Europe) and carries musical traces that harken to her Georgia upbringing and ethnicity.
Mariami is the granddaughter of the late Shota Illich Bibilouri, a Music Director for the National Georgian Folk Ballet. Her earliest years were spent in rehearsal studios with her grandfather and his band. Their close musical bond has inspired many of her expressive melodies. Her passion for R&B comes from the parallels Georgian liturgical music shares with American soul music. ” —MARIAMIMUSIC.COM