Tag: People

#BlackLivesMatter: Who Was Raymond Allen, Jr.?

Texas Rangers are investigating the death of a Raymond Luther Allen, Jr., Galveston man who died in the hospital two days after being tased by a Galveston sheriff’s deputy and a Galveston police officer this week, a ranger said Thursday.

“We don’t do it because we think the police are criminally culpable,” Haralson said. “We do it because it needs to be done and it goes where it goes.”

Allen’s father, Raymond Allen Sr., blames the police for his son’s death.

“I think it was pretty low down,” he said. He said two witnesses told him that his son was hogtied, but he declined to disclose further details for fear of harming the investigation.

Police and sheriff’s deputies received a report of a man jumping repeatedly from the second floor of the Beachcomber Inn on 61st Street about a half block from the seawall shortly after 11 a.m. Monday, Haralson said. Officers encountered Allen Jr. in the parking lot of the Happy Buddha Restaurant next door to the motel, he said.

Motel manager Peter Wolbach said there was no record of Allen Jr. being registered, although an employee saw him leaving the property.

Police at first were concerned about Allen Jr.’s welfare, Haralson said.

“Initially it was concern for his erratic behavior,” he said. “The first thing they asked was, ‘Man, do I need to call you an ambulance?'”

A deputy and officer each Tased Allen Jr. while trying to restrain him and reported he stopped breathing, Haralson said. An ambulance took Allen Jr. to the University of Texas Medical Branch’s John Sealy Hospital where he died Wednesday, Haralson said.

Department of Public Safety records show that Allen Jr. was arrested 20 times by the Galveston police and once by DPS between 1994 and 2010 on charges that included unlawfully carrying a weapon, assault, evading arrest and drug possession.

Allen Jr. was the father of three children, ages 4, 10 and 13, said sister-in-law Lenora Amy. Amy said his police record did not reflect the way he was seen by his family and his neighbors.

“We’re not going to let them take away his memory,” she said.

A week before his death, Allen Jr. placed flowers on the grave of his grandmother, Sammie Allen, as he has done every year on her birthday since she died 15 years ago, said his aunt, Jeanette Dotson.

“He was loved by all,” Allen Sr. said. “He had compassion for people’s lives and tried to bring joy to others.”

*Originally published on Chron.


Remembering Robert Guillaume (1927 – 2017)

Actor Robert Guillaume, best known for his title role in the TV series “Benson,” died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 89. His wife Donna Guillaume told CNN he had battled prostate cancer in recent years.

“He kinda went the way everyone wishes they could, surrounded by love and in his sleep,” Guillaume said.
She added that her husband really loved making music, entertaining and making people laugh. He treasured his role as Rafiki in Disney’s 1994 animated film “The Lion King,” she said.
Mr. Guillaume’s most well-known character was Benson DuBois, who began as a caustic butler on the sitcom “Soap,” which ran from 1977 to 1981, and later worked for, and eventually campaigned against, the governor of an unspecified state on the spinoff “Benson” (1979-86).
Mr. Guillaume grew up in poverty and spent years working odd jobs, from streetcar driver to postal worker, with little hope that acting could become a career. The difficulties he overcame helped inspire the character that made him famous, he said.

When criticized for playing a black domestic worker in a white household, he responded that he saw Benson as a paean to the black working man’s struggle. When he took the part, he said, he decided that while Benson might be a servant, he would never be servile. “I wanted black people to be proud of Benson,” he wrote in his autobiography, “Guillaume: A Life” (with David Ritz, 2002).

Mr. Guillaume said Benson’s sharp tongue and dignified mien had allowed him to transcend his station while getting laughs. “What made the humor was that he didn’t care what people thought about him,” he said of the character in an interview for this obituary in 2011. “He wasn’t trying to be mean; he was just trying to be his own man.”

He won the Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy series in 1979.

“Benson” was followed in 1989 by “The Robert Guillaume Show,” which was canceled after 12 episodes. Mr. Guillaume went on to play an executive producer, Isaac Jaffe, on Aaron Sorkin’s “Sports Night” (1998-2000), a sitcom about the inner workings of a show much like ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” When Mr. Guillaume had a stroke in 1999, Mr. Sorkin wrote a stroke into the script for the character so that he could continue playing the part.

Mr. Guillaume was born Robert Peter Williams on Nov. 30, 1927, in St. Louis. His mother, Zoe Bertha Edwards, was an alcoholic and a prostitute. He never knew his father. His grandmother Jeanette Williams reared him after a stepfather struck him in the head with a red-hot poker.

Robert attended a Roman Catholic high school, where he sang in the choir. He joined the Army in 1945, but the war was over by the time he reached Okinawa in the Pacific. He was honorably discharged in 1947.

After the war he enrolled at St. Louis University to study business on the G.I. Bill. He later studied singing and theater at Washington University in St. Louis but never earned a degree.

He married Marlene Scott in 1955. They separated but remained married for nearly three decades before divorcing in the mid-1980s.

In the late 1950s Mr. Guillaume moved to Cleveland to play Billy Bigelow in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel” at Karamu House, a historically black theater. It was there that he adopted the surname Guillaume (the French form of William), inspired by his grandfather’s tales of his family’s French heritage.

Mr. Guillaume left Cleveland in 1959 to tour with the short-lived Harold Arlen musical “Free and Easy,” which played in Amsterdam but did not make it to the United States. Soon afterward he moved to New York, where his stage career would flourish.

Mr. Guillaume played the drug dealer Sportin’ Life in a 1964 revival of “Porgy and Bess” at City Center and the lead role, the preacher Purlie Victorious Judson, in the 1972 Broadway revival of “Purlie,” a musical set in the Jim Crow South. He also toured for four years with the musical revue “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.”

Mr. Guillaume never made it to the Metropolitan Opera, although he did star in the Los Angeles production of “The Phantom of the Opera” in 1990.

He landed his part in “Soap” in 1977 after a Tony-nominated run as Nathan Detroit in an all-black Broadway revival of “Guys and Dolls.”

Mr. Guillaume appeared in a few feature films, notably “Lean on Me” (1989) and “Big Fish” (2003); guest-starred on shows like “All in the Family” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”; voiced the baboon Rafiki in “The Lion King” and its straight-to-video sequels; released several albums of his singing; and received four N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards. He also won a Grammy in 1995 for best spoken word album for children for his narration on “The Lion King Read Along.”

Guillaume is survived by four children, all of whom had spent time visiting with their father in his final weeks, Donna Guillaume said.

Meet Your Inner Bodyguard

As life goes on, we face many challenges. Some of these challenges may be caused by our own doing, while others come from unforeseen circumstances. Oftentimes when we know that something is going to be a problem for us, we tend to procrastinate or avoid these challenges altogether. It’s never good to avoid something that you must face, instead, it’s better that you are equipped to handle it accordingly –

Identify Your Resistance

It’s an odd situation, isn’t it? You’ve been wanting to do something all week/month/year long but you never do. You even planned how to get it done & maybe even lost track of time figuring out how to go about it, instead of actually just getting started. And yet, when you actually start, all of a sudden you experience the desire to do something else less important (fold your laundry, check your e-mail, or clip your fingernails). Or you suddenly realize there is one more phone call you need to make, or one of your kids appears & totally distracts you (can’t ignore the kids, right?!). Or maybe you find yourself gazing out the window and realize that the weather is too pretty to be stuck inside doing something that you can put off once more. In short, procrastination, avoidance, and denial take over & derail you.

Why is it that we so often find ourselves wanting to get something done, but then end up not doing it AT ALL? Resistance has been described as when you want to do something, but you just can’t seem to do it as an innately human defense mechanism that is uniquely designed to protect us from doing anything dangerous. In other words, our resistance is like an internal bodyguard that rises up to keep us from any risky situation.

Having an internal bodyguard is mostly a good thing! On one hand, it keeps us from engaging in potentially harmful activities (like putting our hand down the garbage disposal while it’s running, or petting a snake). On the other hand, our inner-bodyguard can’t tell the difference between physical danger and emotional danger so it gets activated whether we are standing at the edge of a cliff or sitting down to get some work done. Both raise anxiety. In response, our inner bodyguard leaps into action to stop us from engaging in this activity in the form of procrastination, avoidance, and/or denial. This bodyguard will do whatever it takes to stop us from jumping off that cliff, or engaging in an activity that needs to get done (even if it isn’t urgent).

Fear Drives Resistance

Wherever there’s resistance, there’s fear underneath it, so it might be helpful to ask yourself: When I sit down to do work, what fears emerge? It may be fear of success, fear of failure, fear of incompletion, or even fear of your work not being good enough. There’s no need to analyze or judge these fears; just to identify them. Knowing what you’re afraid of will help you to design strategies to maneuver around them.

I’m going to explore the different types of resistance that are common. If you keep in mind that your mind can’t quite tell the difference between real and perceived danger and that your inner bodyguard genuinely wants protect you, then you will realize that the trick to sneaking around your resistance is to keep your inner bodyguard in a nice, comfortable, and relaxed state. Imagine your resistance as a big bodyguard that’s always ready to protect you. I enjoy the idea that my resistance is really my very own built-in bodyguard at work! First of all, it brings me a sense of compassion and understanding towards the procrastination, avoidance, and denial I experience when I sit down to do some work. Each time I feel an irresistible urge to check Facebook, or repaint my fingernails, I can recognize that resistance as my bodyguard at work. Secondly, it frees me from the debilitating idea that if I could just fix one of my many personal flaws, then I would be free of any resistance. There’s no sense in believing that if only I were more disciplined, more motivated, and more focused, getting stuff done would be quick, easy, and enjoyable. That’s just not how it works. And finally, it’s helpful to me to understand that my resistance is ALWAYS going to be with me because it’s part of my human packaging.

  • Consider what it would be like to understand your procrastination, avoidance, and denial as protective impulses.
  • If you can’t seem to start the tasks you need to, gently ask yourself: “What am I afraid of?”
  • Identify all the ways your resistance manifests this week without judgment, shame, or self-recrimination.

I hope this week brings you the willingness to identify your resistance as it occurs, a spirit of openness toward new ways of understanding your procrastination and avoidance behaviors, and a sense of compassion toward yourself in the process.

Remembering Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

Legendary guitarist and singer Chuck Berry died today at the age of 90. Arguably the most important of rock ‘n’ roll’s founding fathers, the music legend had grown visibly frail of late, and in August 2014 had been too ill to travel to Sweden to accept the prestigious Polar Music Prize. But at the apex of his fame during the 1950s, Berry was an energetic performer whose teen-centric lyrics, distinctive mix of country and blues, two-string solo style and distorted guitar tones served as the blueprints with which rock and roll was built—and his often wild presence and rebellious nature, both on and off the stage, seemed in many ways to embody its spirit. The story of Chuck Berry’s life is a roller coaster ride of musical highs and personal lows, the sum total of which remains a legacy almost beyond measure.

Charles Edward Anderson Berry was born into a middle-class family in northern St. Louis, Missouri, on October 18, 1926. At a young age he began singing in the choir of the church where his father was a deacon, and while in high school he began to learn the guitar. Berry made his first public performance at a school assembly, playing a song called “Confessin’ the Blues.” The song was a hit with the students—and an annoyance to the faculty—igniting Berry’s fledgling desire for performance. In 1944, however, Berry found himself on the wrong side of the law when he and two friends went on a crime spree that led to his arrest for armed robbery. He was sentenced to 10 years at a juvenile facility and would serve three before being released on his 21st birthday in 1947.

Picking up where he had left off, after his release Berry continued to practice guitar and began playing in clubs around St. Louis, while working in an auto plant and as a hairdresser during the day to support himself. In 1953 he formed a group called Sir John’s Trio, and they soon played regularly at the upscale Cosmopolitan Club in East St. Louis. Although the leader of the band was ostensibly its piano player, Johnnie Johnson, Berry’s flair for showmanship soon made him its true star, and they eventually renamed the group the Chuck Berry Combo. Their regular repertoire consisted of jazz and blues numbers that catered to the primarily black audience, but sometimes Berry would perform an upbeat country-influenced number that quickly became a crowd favorite. Before long more whites began to attend the shows.

As his local popularity continued to grow, on a trip to Chicago in 1955, Berry approached his idol Muddy Waters and asked his advice on how to get a recording contract. Waters connected Berry with Leonard Chess of the blues label Chess Records, and soon thereafter Berry returned home to record a demo for Chess. Of the four songs, it was Berry’s rendition of the country standard called “Ida Red” that piqued Chess’s interest and ultimately got Berry his contract. Recorded in May of 1955, the original lyrics were reworked by Berry to describe a car race and an unfaithful woman, and the track was retitled ”Maybellene.” Released in August of that year, “Maybellene” reached No. 5 on the Billboard pop charts, and stayed there for nearly three months, eventually selling more than one million copies, making it a massive crossover hit for a black artist by the standards of the day.

As rock and roll exploded onto the American music scene, Berry continued to churn out the hits, releasing seven more Top 40 singles over the next five years, most notably “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957), “Sweet Little Sixteen” (1958) and “Johnny B. Goode.” He also toured regularly and made numerous appearances in rock and roll television shows and movies, including Rock, Rock, Rock!, Mister Rock and Roll and Go, Johnny, Go! By 1957 he had earned enough money to buy 30 acres of land outside of St. Louis, where he would eventually open an amusement park, and to open a racially integrated nightclub in a prosperous, white section of the city.

Yet despite this flurry of successes, in 1959 Berry found himself in trouble yet again. After bringing a teenage girl from Mexico to work as a coat check in his club, Berry was accused of having sexual relations with her and was arrested by federal authorities. In a 1961 trial he was found guilty, but racist comments made by the presiding judge led to an appeal and a second trial. The verdict was upheld, however, and Berry spent nearly two years in a federal prison.

By the time Berry was released in 1964, the British Invasion was well under way, and many of its biggest acts, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, were recording versions of Berry’s songs or covering them during their live performances. Berry himself resumed touring and recording and scored two further hits with “Nadine” and “No Particular Place to Go,” which he purportedly wrote while serving his prison sentence. But as rock music evolved, Berry, like most of his contemporaries, saw his career flounder. Though he continued to tour, Berry’s musical highlights during the 1970s were limited to the 1972 release of the single “My Ding-a-Ling,” a “joke” song that became his only No. 1 hit, and the inclusion of his “Johnny B. Goode” on a record attached to the Voyager 1 satellite that was intended to give other civilizations an idea of what life on Earth was like. But never far from controversy, two years later Berry was charged with income tax evasion and served a three-month prison term.

Despite Berry’s ongoing personal problems, by the 1980s his undeniable contributions to rock music began to earn him accolades. In 1985 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, and in 1986 he was included in the very first group of musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The following year he was the subject of the documentary Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, and his autobiography, Chuck Berry: The Autobiography, was published by Faber & Faber. Berry continued to accrue honors into the 1990s and beyond, performing at Bill Clinton’s inaugural ball in 1993, and receiving a Kennedy Center Honor in 2000. In 2003, he was No. 6 on Rolling Stone’s list of the greatest guitarists of all time.

In October 2016 on his 90th birthday, the music legend announced plans to release a new album dedicated to his wife of 68 years: “This record is dedicated to my beloved Toddy,” he said in a statement. “My darlin’, I’m growing old! I’ve worked on this record for a long time. Now I can hang up my shoes!”

*Originally published on Biography.



March Is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month!

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.

The cause of MS is still unknown – scientists believe the disease is triggered by as-yet-unidentified environmental factor in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.

There are 4 main types of MS –

  1. RRMS – the most common disease course – is characterized by clearly defined attacks of new or increasing neurologic symptoms. These attacks – also called relapses or exacerbations – are followed by periods of partial or complete recovery (remissions). During remissions, all symptoms may disappear, or some symptoms may continue and become permanent. However, there is no apparent progression of the disease during the periods of remission. At different points in time, RRMS can be further characterized as either active (with relapses and/or evidence of new MRI activity) or not active, as well as worsening (a confirmed increase in disability over a specified period of time following a relapse) or not worsening. Approximately 85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS.
  2. PPMS is characterized by worsening neurologic function (accumulation of disability) from the onset of symptoms, without early relapses or remissions. PPMS can be further characterized at different points in time as either active (with an occasional relapse and/or evidence of new MRI activity) or not active, as well as with progression (evidence of disease worsening on an objective measure of change over time, with or without relapse or new MRI activity) or without progression. Approximately 15% of people with MS are diagnosed with PPMS.
  3. SPMS follows an initial relapsing-remitting course. Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to a secondary progressive course in which there is a progressive worsening of neurologic function (accumulation of disability) over time. SPMS can be further characterized at different points in time as either active (with relapses and/or evidence of new MRI activity) or not active, as well as with progression (evidence of disease worsening on an objective measure of change over time, with or without relapses) or without progression.
  4. CIS is a first episode of neurologic symptoms caused by inflammation and demyelination in the central nervous system. The episode, which by definition must last for at least 24 hours, is characteristic of multiple sclerosis but does not yet meet the criteria for a diagnosis of MS because people who experience a CIS may or may not go on to develop MS.

Multiple sclerosis is thought to affect more than 2.3 million people worldwide. While the disease is not contagious or directly inherited, epidemiologists — scientists who study patterns of disease — have identified factors in the distribution of MS around the world that may eventually help determine what causes the disease. These factors include gender, genetics, age, geography and ethnic background.

Epidemiology is the branch of medicine that deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health. Epidemiological studies are challenging for several reasons:

  • MS can be difficult to diagnose. Since there is no single test for MS, the diagnosis can be missed, delayed or even incorrect.
  • MS is not a “reportable” disease, which means that the government does not require physicians to inform any central database when they make the diagnosis. Without this kind of centralized reporting system, there is no easy way to count people with MS.
  • Data from earlier epidemiological studies may not accurately represent the current MS population because the investigators used different methods for identifying and counting people with MS, as well as different strategies for analyzing their data.

For more information, visit the National MS Society at http://www.nationalmssociety.org.

Make A Commitment Already!

Is there something that’s been holding you back from what it is you want to do in life? If you’ve found yourself at a “stand still” as I often have, I challenge you to do the following:

  • Assess whether or not your goals are realistic
  • If they are, figure out whether or not you have what it takes to fulfill those goals
  • Pick one goal at a time – little or big – and do something towards it (ex: read up on it, ask for advice or even attend a seminar related to it)
  • Whatever you pick, commit to executing this month
  • If you experience resistance to making moves, ask yourself WHY?
  • Share your plans with a close friend or two so that they can hold you accountable
  • Keep working on those goals for at least 30 minutes a day
  • Report your progress to others so you can stay uplifted.

I hope that this week brings you closer to the desires of your heart. Through positive thinking and real action, you will succeed!


Remembering Al Jarreau (1940-2017)

Al Jarreau’s unique vocal style is one of the world’s most precious treasures. His innovative musical expressions have made him one of the most exciting and critically-acclaimed performers of our time with seven Grammy® Awards, scores of international music awards and popular accolades worldwide.

It’s not surprising that he has perfected his technique to such an art. After all, he has been singing since the age of four, harmonizing with his brothers and performing solo at a variety of local events in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Music, however, was not always the major force in his life. He excelled in sports and was an above-average student throughout high school and college.

Enrolling at the respected Ripon College in Wisconsin, Jarreau continued singing for fun, performing locally with a group called The Indigos during weekends and holidays, and graduated with a Bachelor Of Science degree in Psychology. After moving on to the University of Iowa to earn his Master’s Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation, Jarreau subsequently relocated to San Francisco to begin a career in rehabilitation counseling.

In San Francisco, Al’s natural musical gifts began to shape his future. He found himself performing at a small jazz club with a trio headed by George Duke, and by the late 60s, he knew without a doubt that he would make singing his life. Relocating to Los Angeles, he began his apprenticeship in such famed nightspots as Dino’s, the Troubadour and the Bitter End West. Shortly thereafter, he branched out to New York City as well, where he gained national network television exposure with Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, David Frost and Mike Douglas. Al teamed with guitarist Julio Martinez to “spell” up-and-coming comics John Belushi, Bette Midler, Robert Klein, David Brenner, Jimmie Walker and others at the famed comedy venue, The Improv.

In 1975, following an extended stint at the Bla Bla Cafe in Los Angeles, he was spotted by Warner Bros. Records talent scouts and was signed to a recording contract. His debut album for the label, We Got By, was released to unanimous acclaim. It was a reception that spread across the continent and over the Atlantic when Jarreau was awarded a German Grammy for Best New International Soloist that same year. A second German Grammy came his way with the release of his follow-up album, Glow.

Al’s career breakthrough came in 1977 when Warner Brothers Records released Look to the Rainbow , his live double album, which was culled from his first world tour from that same year, and earned the vocalist his first Grammy® for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.

His fourth album, All Fly Home, was released in 1978 to further accolades and a second Grammy for Best Jazz Vocalist. It was followed by a string of innovative and original offerings, including 1980’s This Time, and the million-selling Breakin’ Away, which brought him a broader audience and two more Grammy’s with awards for Best Male Pop Vocalist and Best Male Jazz Vocalist.

In 1983 Jarreau was released, followed closely the following year by High Crime. Both albums spawned a string of R&B and pop hits, and further cemented him as an internatio nal superstar. Al Jarreau- Live in London, recorded before a SRO crowd at Wembley Arena in 1985, continued to solidify Jarreau’s reputation as a world-class master of both studio and stage. Following the live album, Jarreau teamed with top producer Nile Rodgers for L Is For Lover, which brought some new styles and sounds to the singer’s repertoire.

He continued to top the stateside charts in 1987 and became a weekly guest in America’s living rooms singing the Grammy® nominated theme song for the hit television series Moonlighting.

With hardly time to take a breath, he launched into the recording of the Heart’s Horizon album, which contained the #2 R&B smash “So Good” and earned him another GRAMMY® nomination, this time for Best R&B Album. After touring the globe for nearly two years, he returned to the studio – this time with Narada Michael Walden – to fashion the sound that would launch him into his third decade of music-making. The result was 1992’s Heaven and Earth for which he received his fifth GRAMMY® for Best R&B Vocal Performance. With this, he became one the rare artists to have won GRAMMY’S® in the three categories of jazz, pop, and R&B.

In 1994, Tenderness was released. On this Marcus Miller-produced gem, Jarreau is joined by an all-star cast (David Sanborn, Kathleen Battle, Joe Sample, Steve Gadd, to name a few) to bring us a host of familiar contemporary compositions and to revisit a few Jarreau classics.

1996 brought some exciting career challenges. While on a break from touring, Jarreau accepted a three-month stint on Broadway playing the role of Teen Angel in the hit musical Grease! Other recent credits include guest star appearances on New York Undercover, Touched By An Angel and a national McDonald’s commercial with R&B sensation, Vesta Williams.

In 1999, for the first time, Al Jarreau teamed up with symphony orchestras throughout the U.S. and Europe performing his most popular hits as never heard before as well as some favorites from Broadway and the Classics, which received outstanding review. Al continues to perform symphony shows on a regular basis.

Called “the voice of versatility” by the Chicago Tribune and “one of the world’s greatest natural resources” by the Detroit News, Jarreau added a new chapter to his twenty-five-year recording career with Tomorrow Today (2001), his GRP Records debut.

Al Jarreau received his own Star on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame”, in March 2001, commemorating his status as one of the best singers of his generation.

Al spent the remainder of 2001 touring the United States, Europe and South Africa and working on his next album, All I Got (2002), where he teamed up with Verzion Telecom as a “Champion for Literacy”. This was followed on by the Grammy® nominated Accentuate The Positive (2004) on GRP Records/Universal Music Group.

Al’s 30th year in the music business saw another landmark with the pairing up with his peer the legendary R&B guitarist & singer, George Benson, for the album Givin’ It Up. Recorded in Spring of 2006, this record featured many guest artists including Herbie Hancock, Sir Paul McCartney, Jill Scott, Chris Botti and Patti Austin, amongst others musical veterans. Givin’ It Up was released to critical acclaim on October 24, 2006 by Concord Music Group/Monster Music and garnered 3 Grammy® nominations for; Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, for “Breezin’” (nomination only), and two Grammy® wins in 2007 Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for “God Bless The Child” feat. Jill Scott, and Best Pop Instrumental for “Mornin”.

Early in 2008, Al handpicked his favorite romantic tunes spanning three decades for his Love Songs, a 14-track compilation that was released in January 2008 on Rhino/Warner Music Group. He also helped the Playboy Jazz Festival celebrate its 30-year anniversary by headlining a sold-out opening night at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles

A few months later on October 14, 2008, Al released his first-ever Yuletide album, Christmas. The album features his warm and inimitable voice interpreting a dozen holiday classics, including ”The Christmas Song”, “Winter Wonderland” and “Carol Of The Bells”.

Still one of the hardest working men in show business, 2009 saw Al take in a 6-week European spring tour visiting theatres & festivals in Germany, France, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and N. America. In the middle of all this, Al also found the time to put together The Very Best of Al Jarreau: An Excellent Adventure. The 16-song collection highlights some of Al’s best-known songs, alongside one new track ‘Excellent Adventure’, which was produced by Richard Nichols and The Randy Watson Experience (Grammy® winning songwriter James Poyser and The Roots drummer Amir “Questlove” Thompson) – who have also produced songs for Erykah Badu, Al Green and The Roots (among other notable artists).

Some of the albums represented include 1976’s Glow (“Rainbow In Your Eyes” one of Al’s first ever charting tunes), 1977’s Look to the Rainbow (“Take Five”), 1980’s This Time (“Spain”, “Never Givin’ Up”),

1981’s Breakin’ Away (“Roof Garden,” “We’re In This Love Together”), 1983’s Jarreau (“Mornin’,” “Boogie Down”), 1984’s High Crime (“After All”), 1988’s Heart’s Horizon (“So Good”) and Accentuate The Positive (“Cold Duck”), along with other hits “Moonlighting”, the theme from the hit TV series; Grammy®-winning virtuosic “(Round, Round, Round,) Blue Rondo A La Turk”, and “We Got By” (from Al’s debut album of the same name). After more than 30-years Al Jarreau is undoubtedly one of the greatest performers and innovative vocalists the music world has ever known. Time Magazine called him ‘the greatest jazz singer alive’ and ‘Excellent Adventure’ illustrates perfectly the reason why.

Al Jarreau passed away on February 12, 2017.  He was surrounded by his family & a few close friends.  The family is asking that all contributions be sent to the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music, a wonderful organization which supports music opportunities, teachers, and scholarships for students in Milwaukee and throughout.

Al Jarreau was not just a hit-maker, he was also a history-maker. He will be missed.


I Got High Last Night!


Yesterday evening I went to a Christmas soirée hosted by several of the local African-American professional business organizations. About 4-5 different groups held a Christmas party for all of its members and invited guests to attend.

Even though I didn’t feel like it, I decided to attend since these types of parties only happen once a year. I got all dressed up, including curling my hair & putting on some makeup and headed out to the event. At first I didn’t want to go. It’s wintertime so it’s cold outside; I had to drive a distance to get there; and I just really wasn’t in a party mood. But once I got there, boy, did I have a good time!

I saw people I hadn’t seen all year long, made some new connections and even had a good time on the dance floor. It seems like Christmas always brings out the best in people. Even those people who are going through personal challenges, recently faced a tragedy or are otherwise anti-social, there’s nothing like the holiday season to unite folks. I took lots of pictures, exchanged contact information & even heard about a few job offers (all out of the blue!). All because I went to a Christmas party!

I’m the type of person that thrives on social interaction with others. I love my alone time, don’t get me wrong. I have no problems with solitude but there’s just something about being around others & having a good time that really gets me charged.

So, you see, I don’t need drugs. I can get high just by being around other people!