TRANSITIONS: Dick Gregory

_Dick Gregory (RFXP edit for Real Time article)

Dick Gregory was an American civil rights activist and icon, social critic, author, entrepreneur, stand-up comedian, and actor. He was born Richard Claxton Gregory in St. Louis, Missouri on October 12, 1932. Gregory was 84 when he transitioned in Washington, D.C. of heart failure.
(Click The New York Times to read article.)

– RobFather X

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Acts of Patriotic Defiance

Yesterday, [August 14, 2017] protesters in Durham, North Carolina [U.S.] toppled a 100-year-old statue dedicated to the [then] Confederate States of America (commonly referred to as the Confederacy). Things like that shown in the video (which has gone viral on social media) will be happening by many brave people in other parts of the southern United States and in a number of public places in the U.S. where statues or monuments sit that represent, symbolize or give honor to ideas or advocates of racism, bigotry and other forms of hatred. Watch the video clip:

As an American citizen but more importantly as a person who detests all images, symbols and/or messages of social hatred and bigotry in my country (as well as those in other places around the world), I’m completely in support of legally (but safely) bringing down and having destroyed, any statue, sculpture, monument and/or building sitting on American pubic soil which represents, symbolizes, honors, advocates and/or sends a message of racial hatred and bigotry – or the history of that sort. Future generations of Americans can read about the record of racial hatred and bigotry in the United States; we don’t need to erect, keep or maintain physical monuments to it. Still, while watching the video clip showing a few brave American citizens toppling a statue that was dedicated to the then-Confederate States of America, I couldn’t help but chuckle (not mock, but simply chuckle) at the scene of those persons who did just a little more than that to the inanimate object. (Watch the video again.)

You see, I wouldn’t waste my saliva nor risk hurting or breaking my foot (nor any other body part) on a thing made of materials like metal, marble, plaster, cement or resin, et al; particularly not on a thing which never received life and attacked me. I understand the significance of one spitting on and kicking and hitting a statue. However, those particular acts neither mean anything much nor will they do any more damage than that which has already been done by bird droppings (aka feces or shit), the harsh heat of the sun, acid rain, and winter’s cold and ice during the statue’s existence.

Here’s the point of my message: When tearing down and/or destroying an object whose existence or presence either symbolizes, represents or honors a social and/or moral wrong – or the history of such wrong, I think one should perform those acts of sociopolitical defiance by using good mindful sense and by taking a personally safe and healthy approach. Few things in this world – such as statue and/or building vandalism or destruction, are ever worth hurting, seriously injuring or possibly killing oneself in the process. History rarely remembers martyrs of sociopolitical causes, especially none who haven’t been identified. And remember: the town or city where one has hurt/injured or killed him or herself while in the act of doing those patriotic things of defiance isn’t necessarily obligated to cover that person’s medical, funeral and burial or cremation expenses. Just a little something to think about.
Carry on, patriot!

– RobFather X

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TRANSITIONS: Kashif

Kashif (Kashif Saleem aka Michael Jones) – American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, record producer, artist, composer, author, director and educator – transitioned on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

kashif-album-collage_created-by-robfather-x-2016-kashif-center
Kashif was born Michael Jones on December 26, 1959 in Harlem, New York and was raised in the Brooklyn foster care system. Under his given birth name Michael Jones, Kashif was a member of the music groups The Bus Boys and Artists United Against Apartheid, though he was/is best known for being with the 1970s American disco/funk band B.T. Express (originally named Brooklyn Transit Express). It was B.T. Express who recruited him at age 15 to be their keyboardist and vocalist. As Michael Jones, Kashif is credited with performing on B.T. Express song hits such as Express and Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied), among others.

Michael Jones/Kashif initially launched his career as a multi-instrumentalist. Among other instruments, he played the piano, flute, trumpet, saxophone and tuba. Kashif left B.T. Express in 1978 to begin pursuing a solo career in music. It was either during or shortly before this time when he studied Islam and would change his name from Michael Jones to Kashif Saleem. [‘Kashif’ is an Arabic name meaning “discoverer” and “inventor” and ‘Saleem’ means “one who comes in peace”.] While solo, Kashif used his talents to play keyboards for R&B music artist Stephanie Mills before segueing into studio work on projects with other R&B artists like Nona Hendryx, Gloria Gaynor, Melba Moore, Tavares and The Four Tops, among many others.

Kashif, who had already crafted his own distinctive sound (a sound I would know anywhere), would sign with Arista Records in 1983 where he enjoyed success as a solo artist. His signature use of synthesizer technology paired with lyrics of love and devotion helped defined urban sounds following the exit of disco music. This helped him earned several awards, including two Grammy nominations for his second album, ‘Send Me Your Love’ (1984) – which has long been and remains a personally loved, often-played favorite of mine and another nomination for his 1985 album ‘Condition of the Heart’. Together with fellow musical genius and famed recording artist Stevie Wonder, Kashif is considered a R&B pioneer and synthesizer master in urban music thanks to his precise synthesizer technology approach and the introduction of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) in his production work.

Kashif wrote and/or performed a number of successful songs for and/or with artists like Whitney Houston (‘Thinking About You’, ‘You Give Good Love’), Evelyn “Champagne” King (‘I’m In Love’, ‘Love Come Down’, ‘Betcha She Don’t Love You’, ‘Back to Love’), Howard Johnson (‘So Fine’), Meli’sa Morgan (‘Love Changes’), Stacy Lattisaw, Melba Moore, Average White Band, Jermaine Jackson, Janet Jackson, Barry White, Johnny Kemp, Mariah Carey, Dionne Warwick (‘Reservations for Two’), Al Jarreau, guitarist George Benson (‘Inside Love (So Personal)’), Will Downing, The Stylistics and others. Kashif is credited with launching the career of best-selling jazz saxophonist legend, Kenny G with whom he has written, played instruments and/or sang several songs. In addition to his work in music, Kashif is also a successful director and best-selling author of the book Everything You’d Better Know About The Record Industry.

As of this writing, reports say that Kashif apparently died of natural causes in his home in Venice, Los Angeles in California. However, the official cause of death has yet to be determined. Kashif Saleem was 56 years old.

Many of us remember Kashif and his music and are very grateful for the sharing of his talents and influence as well as the many musical and humanitarian contributions he has given to society.

REFERENCE NOTE: Excerpts of this transition biography were adapted or retrieved from various sources, including Soulwalking.co.uk (which, in my opinion, is usually a good “go-to” source of accurate information on R&B artists of color), Billboard.com, Vibe.com, IMDb.com and AllMusic.com, among others.

– RobFather X

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Good TV: ‘Greenleaf’

This show called Greenleaf; Wow!!

If you have ever regularly attended or are long-time members of a predominately Black/African-American church or, if you’re like me – a person who grew up in a family of relatives who are ministers and/or who hold positions of power, importance and influence in the Black church, then you might be able to relate to many of the negative – yet often true – aspects of this television show about a powerful and wealthy family who run a huge predominately Black/African-American church.

Greenleaf (OWN network series)

I got drawn to this show shortly after it premiered this past June (2016) from reading some of the Facebook postings of excitement made over it by my friend Christian Mosby; posts which piqued my curiosity about the show. (Thanks Chris. Now I’m hooked!) Some of the scenes and “mini-plots” in Greenleaf remind me of the realities I’ve witnessed firsthand and/or knew about which occurred in a few of the well-known Black churches in Philadelphia that I either attended or had held membership back in my pre-atheist days.

SERIES PLOT: (from  the websiteGreenleaf follows the unscrupulous world of the Greenleaf family with scandalous secrets and lies and their sprawling Memphis megachurch called Greenleaf World Ministries which has predominantly Black/African-American members. Cast members of this well-written show include (click the names to see photo and bio):

  • Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf, charismatic and manipulative leader of Greenleaf World Ministries. (Keith David has always been one of my favorite actors. In fact, he’s one of the main reasons I’m watching this series.)
  • Lynn Whitfield as Lady Mae Greenleaf, who is Bishop Greenleaf’s wife and the family matriarch;
  • Merle Dandridge as Grace ‘Gigi’ Greenleaf. She is Mae and Bishop’s middle daughter who returns to home twenty years after escaping from the family;
  • Lamman Rucker as Jacob Greenleaf, the eldest, ne’er-do-well son of the Bishop. (Lamman is another favorite actor of mine.)
  • Kim Hawthorne as Kerissa Greenleaf, Jacob’s ambitious and controlling wife.
  • Deborah Joy Winans as Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee, the youngest daughter of the Bishop and Minister of Music. (Yes, Deborah is a member of that famous gospel music family!)
  • Tye White as Kevin Satterlee, Charity’s husband;
  • GregAlan Williams as Robert “Mac” McCready, as Lady Mae’s brother;
    and
  • Benjamin Patterson as Noah Kendall, the Greenleaf Estate manager and Gigi’s ex. (I have long had a man-crush on this fyne brotha (who is also a model), since I first saw him in the recurring character role of Guy, in the now-defunct Noah’s Arc television series years ago.)

Former daytime TV talk show queen Oprah Winfrey is an executive producer and has a recurring role in the series.

Greenleaf premiered on June 21, 2016. You can catch the series Wednesday nights on the OWN [Oprah Winfrey Network] network. Check your TV local listings for broadcast time. Previously aired episodes are on your cable channel’s On-Demand feature and found online at the Greenleaf website or click here. As of this writing, the Greenleaf series is still in its first season. Enjoy!

– RobFather X

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TRANSITIONS: Billy Paul

Billy Paul transitioned today, Sunday, April 24, 2016.

Billy Paul (born Paul Williams) RobFather's edit

American Grammy Award-winning soul, R&B, pop and jazz singer Billy Paul was born Paul Williams in [North] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 1, 1934. He had been an active singer in the Philadelphia area where he was raised since the 1950s. Paul was one of the many artists associated with the Philadelphia soul sound created by the producer/song-writing team Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell. Under Gamble and Huff, founders of Philadelphia International Records (PIR) Paul’s career prospered.

Billy Paul began his singing career when he was eleven, appearing first on a local radio station then known as WPEN (now WKDN) in Philadelphia. He attended the West Philadelphia Music School and the Granoff School of Music for his formal vocal training. As he got older and continued singing, Paul’s popularity grew and led to appearances in jazz clubs and at college campuses nationally. He changed his birth name to ‘Billy Paul’ to avoid confusion with other music artists such as songwriter Paul Williams and saxophonist Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams. These early experiences led to further signing opportunities including appearing in concert with such music greats as Charlie “Bird” Parker, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, The Impressions, Sammy Davis, Jr., Roberta Flack and a brief stint singing with the group Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes.

Paul was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1957, being stationed in Germany with rock and roll music legend Elvis Presley and actor/singer Gary Crosby (son of crooner Bing Crosby). Paul and [Gary] Crosby started a band called the Jazz Blues Symphony Band (whom he and Crosby tried to get Elvis to join) and sang with the 7th Army Band. These opportunities allowed Paul to continue his music passion until his dischargeBillie Holiday from military service when he resumed his professional singing career.

Paul was usually identified by his diverse vocal style which ranged from mellow and soulful to low and raspy. He once stated that his style of singing was particularly influenced by female blues and jazz singers like Nina Simone, Carmen McRae and Nancy Wilson and most especially by Billie Holiday, whom he said was his “biggest influence” in developing his vocal singing style.

Billy-Paul_Me and Mrs Jones_45 recordBilly Paul is best known for his U.S. top-charted 1972 hit, Me and Mrs. Jones. A classic confessional tale of infidelity, Paul’s unorthodox style enhanced the ballad’s sense of guilt.
Me and Mrs. Jones
would receive newfound attention decades later when singer Michael Bublé released a cover version in 2007. Other popular releases from Billy Paul include Thanks For Saving My Life (1974) and Let’s Make A Baby (1976) – a controversial song (of a few sung by Paul) at the time of its release whose lyrics drew the protest of Reverend Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH who help lead the protest to ban or alter the track lyrics of the song due to its supposed or perceived “obscene and negative” message. Another hit was Paul’s 1977 cover of Let ’Em In (1977) – which was a soulful, funky adaptation cover of the original 1976 hit from [former Beatles member] Paul McCartney and his then-band ‘Wings’. Paul’s cover of Let ’Em In mentioned notable African-American figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Louis Armstrong in lieu of some of the people named in McCartney’s original.

Paul had continued to make excellent records long but his last chart entry to date came in 1980 with You’re My Sweetness. He recorded for Total Experience and Ichiban Records in the 1980s and would continue to perform throughout the world in addition to running his own production company. He announced his retirement in 1989 on stage while in London. However, like many artists before him, he could not resist the temptation to continue to play live shows and record.

Billy Paul-1Paul released fifteen albums (not counting a 1973 reissue of Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club) between 1968 and 1988. While he never again matched the mainstream success of Me and Mrs. Jones, he is recognized by many as a pioneer and important figure in soul music, known for his socially conscious lyrics. In 2008, Billy Paul was inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame.

Billy Paul was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had been hospitalized the week before his death at Philadelphia’s Temple University Hospital. He was 81 when he transitioned on Sunday afternoon April 24, 2016 at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey.

We thank artist Billy Paul for his many years contribution to the music industry.

– RobFather X

(Excerpts of this transition bio were adapted from various sources.)
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