Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Old, Old, Old, Oldies

Most cities with a lot of black people have at least two or three radio stations that play oldies. The classics. The good stuff. But why do oldies stations primarily play music from the 70's, 80's and 90's? Soul Train was great but soul music existed way before the decade that brought us black power. Here are a just a few examples of great music your grandparents may know something about.

Papa Chele played Ben E. King's greatest hits album for at least twelve years straight. For an album that includes Spanish Harlem, you could imagine why. Many of you are familiar with King's song, Stand By Me. A former lead singer for The Drifters, he scored his first hit in 1961 with Spanish Harlem.

She was taken from us too soon but Dinah Washington left behind plenty of music for us to treasure. She passed away at the age of 39 from an accidental overdose. Despite such tragedy, Dinah is remembered as one of the most successful female singers in the 1950's. Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby is a 1962 recording but it was first written by Louis Jordan in 1944.

Speaking of Louis Jordan, it is only appropriate that he be included in this list, and heard on our radio stations today. Tell me this isn't soul you hearing! Not just soulful, but The Father of Rhythm of Blues was often comical and political. I first heard Beans and Cornbread on the Malcolm X soundtrack but other songs of his including What's the Use of Gettin' Sober, That Chick's Too Young to Fry and  Pettin' and Pokin'. Beans and Cornbread was recorded in 1949.


I really don't think this wonderful woman needs an introduction. Ms. Lena Horne, ladies and gentleman. 

Do ever wish for TV One's hit television show Unsung to make an episode about a certain artist you love? With his incredible career and many gifts, it would be great for younger generations to learn about Johnny Mathis and the contributions he made to music. Chances Are was recorded in 1957 and a year later, Mathis compiled a selection of chart-topping single he made with Columbia Records and created a Greatest Hits album, the first ever in history.

It's important to may homage to all the soul musicians that gave music we have learned and loved. Let us not limit our appreciation to music simply because it is more familiar to our ears. Artists mentioned above and their contemporaries laid the foundation for all of the sounds we groove and bop our heads to. So call your local classic soul stations and make the disc jockeys dig deep for those old, old, oldies!

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