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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© RobFather X! Productions

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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© RobFather X! Productions

TRANSITIONS: Prince

Prince transitioned today, Thursday, April 21, 2016.

Prince-solo (re)
Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 7, 1958, Prince was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actor, serving as a major figure in popular music for over three decades. He was renowned as an innovator and was widely known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence and wide vocal range. He was widely regarded as the pioneer of the Minneapolis sound. His music combined rock, R&B, soul, funk, hip hop, disco, psychedelia, jazz, and pop.

Prince developed an interest in music at an early age, writing his first song at age seven. After recording songs with his cousin’s band 94 East, the 19-year-old Prince recorded several unsuccessful demo tapes before releasing his debut album ‘For You’ in 1978. His 1979 album ‘Prince’ went platinum due to the success of the singles “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover“. His next three records ‘Dirty Mind’ (1980), ‘Controversy’ (1981), and ‘1999’ (1982) continued his success, showcasing Prince’s trademark of prominently sexual lyrics and incorporation of elements of funk, dance and rock music. In 1984, Prince began referring to his backup band as The Revolution and released ‘Purple Rain’ which served as the soundtrack to his film debut of the same name. A prolific songwriter, Prince in the 1980s wrote songs for a number of artists and produced work by many other acts, often under pseudonyms such as “Jamie Starr”, “Christopher”, “Joey Coco”, “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” to name a few. In 1993, Prince changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol (O(+>) also known as the “Love Symbol”. In 2000, he began referring to himself as “Prince” again.

Prince sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year of his eligibility. Rolling Stone magazine has ranked Prince at number 27 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.

Prince with love symbol guitar

My heart is broken over the news of Prince’s transition…a most original, talented, elegant and beautiful man. There will only be one Prince – one “Purple One”. Reports continue to be broadcast covering the life, career and passing of Prince. I suspect such reports will continue for days to come. Though I was a fan of Prince’s music, becoming such since his debut in 1978, I did not know the man on a personal basis – though I would have loved to! I cannot possibly give Prince’s transition, his life or his career and contributions to music, to the community and to the world the justice it so richly deserves in a Facebook post. I invite you…no, I encourage you to search the internet yourself and read and learn all you can about man named Prince. Those of you who consider yourselves “hardcore” fans of Prince should read too. You might learn something new about the man. Prince’s story is nothing short of fascinating.

Prince was 57 when he transitioned at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota, near Minneapolis, according to reports. Prince will be missed on the physical plane but his music and his very huge influence in various music genres will forever live on.

Thank you, Prince for enriching all of our lives through your music and talent. Rest in peace my good man.

– RobFather X
(Excerpts of this transition bio article were adapted from Wikipedia and other sources.)
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© RobFather X! Productions

50 years ago, we lost Malcolm X!

Malcolm X (info)Today…February 21, 2015 marks 50 years since the assassination of Malcolm X, a man known and loved yet misunderstood by so many.

I won’t spend time in this article talking about Malcolm X except to say that I remember learning a great deal about the man while growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. I would learn much more about him many years later in my adult life.

Malcolm X is one of a number of Black men in American history whose life has always fascinated me. The book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X was required reading in my tenth grade class at West Philadelphia High School (Philadelphia). That was nearly forty years ago! My copy of the book – the very same used in high school – now with its fragile yellow pages and cover still intact, still sits proudly on my bookshelf.

America, no…the world today still needs a man with yourMLK & Malcolm X vision and wisdom, Malcolm…yours and of course, Brother Martin’s (Martin Luther King, Jr.).
Continue to rest in peace, good brother, Malcolm.

Malcolm X (1)                “… Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! …”
(Excerpt from the eulogy of Malcolm X, read by Ossie Davis at Malcolm’s funeral, February 27, 1965.)

Learn more about Malcolm X at these links:
http://www.biography.com/people/malcolm-x-9396195
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31572255
http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/flashback/remembering-malcolm-x-50-years-later-n309796

Keepin’ It…REAL!

Rest in Peace, Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou

Rest in Peace, Maya Angelou.
I am blessed that your work was required reading in my childhood home and in my elementary and high school days. Thank you for your many, many generous contributions of class, talent and wisdom – not just to our shared ethnicity of people but to the world!

Learn more about the life of this extraordinary woman here:
Click here to see a list of her written work.

*NOTE: If links fail to load or work that may be due to the heavy influx of other people trying to access the sites at the same time. Try using another browser or be patient and try again later.

Keepin’ It…REAL!