Thursday, November 1, 2018

November 2018 Thanksgiving Pre-thought

                                                           Delores Fisher

Just a brief hello to thank you for putting us over the 20,000 mark! Special November hello to Ukraine, Brazil, Russia, Canada, and India. Yes, my readers are diverse ...

Here in the U.S., Thanksgiving is fast "trotting" onto the holiday scene. We seem, in general, a bit more solemn and contemplative this year due to acts of violence and oppression. Perhaps we are becoming more deeply grateful for blessings in the middle of hurt and pain and confusion, and yes, anger, and frustration, and yet...humility. 

Words also can not express our profound acknowledgement of bigger than life natural forces beyond our control. As a planet, we can not always accurately predict let alone completely control what geology or weather will do.  

Thanksgiving may look a little different this year. But if we keep love in our hearts, maybe more than a pinch of patience and compassion . . . and a special place in our hearts for those whose lives interact in a nurturing way with ours. Thinking of two very special people:

 Vince Meades:

Vince Meades and me (several years ago) at Special Collections and University Archives San Diego State University, discussing my research finds in his generous sheet music donation to the archives.

See some of the results at:

And, India's Rabandra Sakar  "Rock Whisperer--My first video interview. The Reiki Master was so kind to grant the interview and to let me post it.

We continue to keep in touch and can often be found, when he is in town, talking about spirituality and life as we sit on the sea side boardwalk wall at Seaport Village/ Embarcadero.

                                              Ravi and me at Seaport Village

As many areas of the world start to rebuild, from the wildfires of Southern California that has claimed over 40 lives  to other especially hard hit regions of our world like Southern India struggling to recover from its monsoonal rains   

-----Let us send up prayers and positive thoughts for healing and renewal; let us give financial gifts to reputable charities and disaster relief funds, share a conversation or a smile with the homeless, be a little more patient with people who don't look like, don't act like, don't think like or don't talk like us.
And if we can't agree, at least respect the other's right to an opinion.  

Giving thanks  giving for intercessory prayers, blessings, and mercy for us all . . . 
Delores Fisher


Friday, September 28, 2018

September Pre-holiday Season 2018: A Few Thoughts

                                             Delores Fisher Blogger 2018

Hello to all, especially my longtime readers/followers in Canada, Russia, Brazil, the Seychelles, UK, China, and of course France.

As each new year approaches and each year end fades, we as a global people often consider watershed pop culture events that have changed our perceptions. Musician scholar and pop culture critic William Banefield states, "Popular culture allows us to see so many meaningful elements, fixtures, and symbols of our culture. This is the means by which our identities are concretized in many ways."1 

Through the lens of this quote, I must say: 2018 has been a very disturbingly interesting year.

We now have weather called a "medicane" in Greece: 
Our planet, Earth, a symbol of our identity as humans is shifting and shaking us to our core, causing us to re-evaluate much of our central traditions and values.  Our home, Earth, is not necessarily cooperating with those who would try to harness her for selfish gain. She now seemingly more than ever before is making us pause to reflect on our role as her steward.

It is still September. We take from the Earth to produce what we need and admittedly in the 21st century, increasingly only want.

 Holiday themed programming has began to shimmer its media designed warm, fuzzy, cheerful glow into our global public eye. 

Although increasing buying frenzy propels a consumer driven attitude towards the approaching holiday season after September is beginning to push an ever growing mountain of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas commercials overflowing with merchandise, it is important to consider the "groanings" of our Earth, to stop consumer frenzy purchases before the madness enchants us, to appreciate family and friends.

This pre-season time is also traditionally one in which to consider those who are grieving, starving, lonely, bullied, poor, working poor, and homeless. It is also a time to reflect on the filthy rich who lead vacuous lives of episodic high adventures that bury an abyss of pain and regret. to alter a phrase by a previous mentor, Bruce Keitel, "That which seems, is often hidden by the seams, of the symbolic meaningless seme wealth."2

As a young man yelled out on a chilly evening a few years ago while being arrested by San Diego Trolley Transit police officers, "Why am I being handcuffed and treated this way? Am I not also   a child of God?  I am also a child of God! Both officers of the law and perpetrators seem locked in a deadly uptempo Topsy-Turvy dance.

I wasn't sure what the young man had done to provoke the overly-aggressive response. But, it made me pause and think. Experiencing someone taken down so physically is different than late evening channel surfing. 

Talking and interacting with refugees from war whose artistry provides comfort against tragic memories is different than reading about them online.I experienced this during a lengthy interview with the refugee rapper Hot Dog several years ago.

This was reinforced for me during my brief interaction through a translator and during  my interview with the Matrida Umoja band:

Life experiences of new friends who just want to talk are illuminating as we share our transitions and crises.

This is the time to reflect, before seasonal pop culture materialism grabs our attention. 

Who are we as a global people? Will we embrace these next few months with meaningful "goodwill towards all?"

The "traditional" season is almost here,
Delores Fisher

          1.William C. Banefield,  "Popular Culture in Non-Theory: Seeing Ourselves, Revealing Ourselves, Knowing Ourselves," Black Notes: Essays of a Musician Writing in a Post- Album Age      (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.2004), 62.
          2. Bruce Keitel was a mentor professor. He trained several Summer Bridge student instructors at San Diego State University in the 1990s and early 2000s in ways to engage critical thinking pedagogy active teaching praxis.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Aretha Franklin The Voice, The Song, The Life:A Brief Reflection

Notesong readers:
On Thursday, August 16th, Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul died at the age of 76. We have lost so many from her generation on a global scale in the last few years, in politics, theater, music, medicine, literature, engineering and many other fields. Can you sense it, my global readers? An age, an era is coming to its close.

I may not pay tribute to all of the people who have impacted my life here in this, our Notesong blog space. Perhaps I will include several chapters in my new book. The following post is a short tribute to Aretha Franklin's life, her talent, and her inspiration to performers who copied a few of her soul stirring vocal and piano licks and carried on her sound to secular and religious audiences. Aretha Franklin's official website has a  treasure chest of additional memories

 I am still quietly grieving . . .

A Twitter (USA) announcement on Monday August 13th informed the world that Gospel and Soul singer Aretha Franklin is very ill. Many are in prayer for her, the woman and performer who dedicated her life to sing music that inspired millions during her global ministry of love, hope, uplift, and renewal.

During my teen years, Aretha Franklin was a mesmerizing role model, not only because of her singing, but because she was also an excellent gospel pianist whose style deeply influenced me and so many other aspiring young church musicians.

                                                    Delores Fisher

She toured the world several times over and according to
( .. . . Scroll down the link page)
Franklin went on to release several popular singles, many of which are now considered classics. In 1987 she became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2008 she won her 18th Grammy Award, making her one of the most honored artists in Grammy history
From France yesterday, news of her illness was in print
and on the airwaves (France 24)

On Euro news:

 In America, Beyonce and Jay Z dedicated their concert to her.

Aretha Franklin became a cross-over artist, switching her focus from sacred to secular music.  Like so many who started in the Black Baptist church during the 1950s -1970s, she played major US venues,  including Madison Square Garden, and  the Apollo in Harlem.

She sang on television variety shows, and had a guest appearance in The Blues Brothers movie; She persevered through career highs, lows, "rebrandings", and revivals. Music lovers post her songs on YOUTUBE and provide us with audio/visual remnants of her legacy.

She is well loved.

Scholars have written about Aretha Franklin for years. Eileen Southern in The Music of Black Americans:A History1, Earl L. Stewart in African American Music: An Introduction 2Portia K. Maultsby has written essays about Aretha Franklin included in Kip Lornell's From Jubilee to Hip Hop: Readings in African American Music 3,  and also in Maultsby's and Mellonee V. Burnim's text African American Music: An Introduction 4.

As a child, I only knew that her voice made the hairs on my arm tingle when she sang. That difficult to imitate moan, born in the cradle of the African American baptist church, starting from pulpit to moarner's bench, to usher board and to the choir long before 1960s freedom riders contested Jim Crow laws and defacto segregation. The moan called audiences to share in a deep cultural angst too thick for words.

Aretha Franklin was a PK(preacher's kid). She was Rev. C. L Franklin's daughter. He was well known in the African American sacred community before he joined in Civil Rights activism.

My daddy played Rev. C. L. Franklin's soul captivating sermon's on our RCA record player. Rev. Franklin's homiletic delivery style was electrifying. His voice could groan, moan, and soar as he sang and as he preached the gospel.

She didn't preach, but she could sing. When she was 14, her recording of Thomas A. Dorsey's Precious Lord became a benchmark staple for Baptist church female and male young and seasoned Gospel Music soloists.

It was tradition. One could sit in many Black church pews of that era, and the sister or brother beside, behind, or in front would break out into a moan like that. Aretha sang from a place most of us knew. No need for translation. It was a different time in America . . . . .

Many forget her activism during America's VERY troubled times. Those times make today's issues look like shadow puppets on a wall. Yet, she raised her voice in protest AND support. Her activism for women and singing songs of inspiration went beyond race. 

As a young scholar, I presented and lectured on Aretha Franklin at a conference a few decades ago. She had been ill even then, and it seemed to be due to her love of performing on stage and of interacting with live audiences. She recovered from her collapse. Many of her stage moments since then have been legendary.

One of my favorites: she sings live on stage during the 2015 Kennedy Center Awards segment celebrating Carole King's musical accomplishments. Carole King's "Natural Woman" became one of Aretha Franklin's biggest hit songs.

So much to say.  Only a brief reflection: Aretha Franklin, an artistic gift from God to the world.

Bless you and thank you Ms. Franklin,
Delores Fisher


1. Eileen Southern, "Soul Music" The Music of Black Americans: A History 3rd ed. (W. W. Norton   & Company Inc., 1997), 517-518.

2. Earl L. Stewart, "Soul Music:1960 To 1980" African American Music:An Introduction (New York Schirmer Books, 1998), 230-231.

3. Portia Maultsby, "The Impact of Gospel Music on the Secular Music Industry" in From Jubilee to Hip Hop:Readings in African American Music Kip Lornell, ed. (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2010), 182-183.

4. Portia K. Maultsby, "Soul" in African American Music: An Introduction. Mellonee V. Burnim and Portia K. Maultsb, eds.,(New York: Taylor & Francis Group, 2006), 280-283.