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 http://www.arethafranklin.net/

 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 Biography.com https://www.biography.com/people/aretha-franklin-9301157
( .. . . 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 https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/usa/la-chanteuse-aretha-franklin-est-gravement-malade-selon-un-de-ses-proches_2894557.html
and on the airwaves (France 24)

On Euro news:

 In America, Beyonce and Jay Z dedicated their concert to her. https://people.com/music/beyonce-jay-z-dedicate-concert-aretha-franklin/

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. https://www.nytimes.com/1984/07/28/obituaries/cl-franklin-69-activist-and-father-of-aretha-franklin.html

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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Delores Fisher Strolling at San Diego Comic Con International 2018

                      Delores Fisher pre Comic Con San Diego at the pier

Hello to new readers in the Seychelles!
It's hotter when it's supposed to be cooling down and cooler when it's supposed to be heating up! San Diego's weather is Really interesting this summer. However, to  visitors here for Comic Con International at San Diego https://www.comic-con.org/cci  , this weather is usually considered gorgeous when compared to back home.

Before I start . . . . a shout out to new readers in India. I spent some Comic Con time just hanging out with and talking to India's Rabindra Sarkar. He's back in America for a few months after traveling to South East Asia and Europe  for interviews and appearances.
          Rabindra Sarkar July 2018 at Seaport Village, San Diego

We've known each other for several years. Rabindra was one of the first people I recorded when I started video interviews of  people of interest to me.

                                                               Rabindra and me July 2018

 It is a real joy to talk with such a positive person.


Comic Con offers such interesting opportunities to enjoy interactions with writers, performers, directors, producers, story boarders, and cosplayers. As usual I did outside exhibit strolling. I did attend an "insider event"---the Afrofuturism Lounge.  (More next post with photos, mini-interviews,    close and personal with writers, graphic artists.)

I took several San Diego Comic Con outdoor site photos this year. Here are a few of my favorites:

  Conan O'brien's talk show is such a hit here. We love the guy!

 Hotel massive displays were really fun!

     Mobile displays drove all over downtown San Diego

 A fountain display had me guessing if it was real.

 I got an inside scoop on the Jack Ryan interactive 3D installation and posted it on twitter!

 Dominos Pizza on Sixth Avenue downtown San Diego has a fantastic mural
                                         Delores Fisher at Domino's Pizza 

A few free outdoor events

The free Interactive Zone had food trucks, a huge screen with films, and live celebrity Interviews.
                                      Jurassic Park was a hit!

                                            Live music/interviews--pre concert

And of course I had  fun with cosplayers. See if you can guess:

 A professional photo shoot near Broadway and sixth Avenue

 Ah... Princess Leia in triplet . . .wait . . . .

 Wait, are these sexy Mario characters the same three guys above as princess Leia?


And at the Afrofuturism Lounge (more next post):

                                                         Hans who?????

                                                   Delores Fisher and???????

I recorded a few interviews. Eric M. Cooper creator to Star Enforcer and Knight Seeker gave me an exclusive on Saturday evening about one of his upcoming projects.

Well, I'm having too much fun. Will simply say, thank you Comic Con International at San Diego!

Delores Fisher,
Missing you already, San Diego Comic Con 2018

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

There And Home Again: More Stories From the Sun Cafe San Diego Fringe International 2018

             Delores Fisher and Gingerlily Lowe inside Fringe Offices
 (I've known Gingerlily for many years now.  We re-connect at San Diego International Fringe.)

Asian Story Theater https://www.facebook.com/AsianStoryTheater/  presentations are always finely staged and acted. After the show ended an hour later, San Diego International Fringe Festival format, I sat in my seat wanting more...more...MORE!

The stage for  There And Home Again: More Stories From the Sun Cafe opens with a brief history of San Diego's Asian immigrant populations whose migrations brought them to participate in the fishing industry of the late 1800s.  Asian immigrants' life-narratives intertwined with those of other immigrants whose daily activities played out in diverse historic sections located along San Diego's  waterfront and Stingaree district.

Historical Society wall plaques record facts that open a small window onto this fascinating portion of San Diego's micro history. There and Home Again, performed over a series of years and in various venues, is a well researched ongoing story which celebrates San Diego's Asian community.

Directed by Kent Brisby, the show revolves first around the early all male fish camps, how they changed and expanded as female immigrants arrived. The plot focus later centers around the historic Sun Cafe building. The location provides a lived-experience loci reflecting changing attitudes and eras for various owners and patrons -- from WWII and Japanese Internment camps through the 50s and 60s to its closing. (article by  Sandee Wilhoit https://sandiegodowntownnews.com/the-sun-cafe-from-corpses-to-cantina/ )

The Asian Story Theater's ensemble of actors enliven each narrative segment with a poignancy that signals a depth of living, shadows of cultural metaphors within marginalized lives. This version of the show's sets are sparse but very workable. And, scene changes are smoothly choreographed.

It was a full house with an audience that exited the Geoffrey talking about San Diego's ever changing dynamics. I will look for the show to surface again. A researcher in San Diego's African American history, There and Home Again  left me wanting  . . .more...more...MORE!  

The next show I saw at San Diego Fringe 2018 was . . .well . . . don't  react to the title before you read the review:

The Black and The Jew Reveal:

    Delores Fisher with Epstein and Hassan outside of Fringe offices
(Trying to stop laughing long enough to take a "serious" photo)

I noticed this couple during opening celebrations for San Diego Fringe 2018. Both have a glow. I'm not sure how we started talking. It just seemed natural and flowed into conversations about our youth and teenage dating experiences.  I stated that I would come see the show.

 Epstein and Hassan outside the Fringe offices-opening day

A general rule for me is that a stage that has a minimal set or only that has only lighting had better be entertaining. Epstein and Hassan were hilarious as well as insightful. This award winning couple travels all around the U.S.   http://www.theblackandthejew.com/    They draw from a rich narrative cache of interchangeable dialogue and vignettes based on their lived interactions as a couple and adapt their show to audience responses. The audience laughed loudly in appreciation as various scenes resonated with their experiences.

                                                               Epstein and Hassan
In today's very uptight American societal ambiance, Epstein  and Hassan's show is a much needed mature reality check not only about race, but about couple mutual respect and caring based on a love beyond the stereotypical immature "it's about me, me, me"  reality TV scripted infatuations.


                                                Hassan and Epstein after the show

If the show comes to your city-see it. Epstein and Hassan teach relationship 101 with joy, insight, a little raucous humor, and LOVE.

As San Diego International Fringe Festival VI came to a close, I was happy to have had the time to enjoy a couple of shows in the middle of summer performances and appearances.

 Fringe on!!!!

Delores Fisher