My Favorite Oldies Rhythm and Blues/Soul Talents

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

Music. I love music–all types of music from country, new age, contemporary, jazz, rhythm & blues (a.k.a. R&B), reggae and more. The only genre of music that I am indifferent to, is opera. I was never exposed to it, and as I grew older never developed an appreciation for it.  Of all the genres however, rhythm & blues is my rock.

I grew up listening to what is now considered “R&B” music. I fully realize that the music you grow up with often plays a huge factor in dictating your future likes and dislikes, and that my choices will invariably differ from others. As a teenager,  I used to sit alone, in a dark room, jamming to R&B tunes on the radio. I knew all the words and sang my heart out. I have an okay voice, but believe me, it is nothing to write home about. Anyway, I find that there was, and still is, heart, passion and soul in the R&B oldies that is rarely replicated in today’s music.   Regardless of the time or place, the oldies will invariably stop me in my tracks and send me careening back to that girl singing her heart and soul along with the music that she loved. It is not easy for me to whittle my loves down, but I’ve listed them, as well as little tidbits of information about each one.

  1. Aretha Franklin I adore Aretha Franklin. She instills heart and soul in her songs, and does so better than anyone that I can think of.
  2. The Staple Singers This is a family group consisting of among others, Papa Staples and his daughters. Like many of that era, their music has its’ roots in gospel music.
  3. Al Green He was also known as the Rev. Al Green because in 1976, he was ordained pastor of a Memphis, Tennessee church located down the street from Elvis Presley’s Graceland.
  4. Marvin Gaye When Barry Gordy, head of Motown records, first heard Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” he refused to released it fearing that it was ‘too political.” Although the song refers to the ills of the day, I find that it is equally applicable today. Sadly, in 1984, Gaye’s father killed him.
  5. The Jackson Five Okay, before you call me on it, I admit that the group also sang pop songs, but they also sang R&B and soul music. Given the amount of time that I spent singing and dancing to their music, I can not in good conscience exclude them.
  6. The Temptations A five man group, the Temptations were known for their dance moves and flashy dress.
  7. Ike and Tina Turner A husband and wife duo with a tumultuous relationship. After severing ties from Ike Turner, Tina Turner became a popular solo artist.
  8. Stevie Wonder He was 12 years old when he recorded Fingertips I and Fingertips II.

As I said at the outset, this is an incomplete list of the musicians who affected me throughout my childhood. Yet, they are representative of the music that touched my heart and is seared into my soul. To this day, I am apt to burst into song when I hear a familiar tune.

More than that, I’ve come to realize that,

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” ~Maya Angelou

Much like books, music is a balm for my mind, body and spirit. Through music, I learned the value of acknowledging, expressing and understanding complex emotions. Through it, I learned that music could be my voice, whatever my thoughts and feelings, and that I was rarely alone in those feelings.

What about you? Do you have any music memories? How does music influence you? I’d love to hear.

Blessings, Lydia

I am Loving Right Now. . .

self expression : heart-of-stone

self expression : heart-of-stone (Photo credit: cauchisavona)

Facebook has allowed me to meet so many talented, interesting and amazing people. One of those people is Mary Costanza: A Woman’s Heart and Soul. Her page speaks to every woman and those who love them. It is a community wherein a woman is reminded of her strength, beauty, power and self-worth. Mary reminds women that within them is the key to every secret dream and desire.

Granted, I regularly find that it is as if Mary’s posts speak directly to my heart, but I found a recent one especially compelling. In it, Mary writes about self-expression, which is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. She writes:


The expression of one’s feelings, thoughts, or ideas, esp. in writing, art, music, or dance.

She slowly began the process of self expression. She had so much in her heart and soul that she wanted to share with the world. She was tired of being so damn passive, quiet and unknown, and hiding in the shadows. She had a voice and wanted to share who she was with the world. She didn’t want to be loud and obnoxious; she wanted to express herself with class and style, and a little mystery. So she said to herself, let’s go for it, let’s be brave and bold, and let’s step out into the unknown, and with a deep breath, she began to write what she was feeling in her heart and soul, and the creativity was unstoppable, it’s like the sky above opened up and just started pouring down on her. Idea after idea just keep coming, the ideas kept coming so quickly that she couldn’t keep up with them all. She said I am not afraid anymore, she said I’ll dye my hair purple, red, gold whatever color she feels like wearing that day, she’ll wear leather, cover her body in tattoos, buy a Harley, travel the world, have a beer for breakfast or whatever it may be to express what she is feeling inside. She knows that there are those that will judge and criticize her, but she does care anymore, she is old enough, wise enough and brave enough to admit she is a little wild, and wants to be free, and she now knows it’s time to free that wild woman inside, it’s time for her to come out and play, she not hiding her anymore. The beauty of self expression, it can’t be explained; it can only be lived.

Mary Costanza

For the most part, I discovered self-expression through my role as a trial lawyer. I expect that given the public mindset of lawyers as a whole, it seems odd that one equates the practice of law with self-expression. Nevertheless, as a lawyer, I was able to express myself through one of my favorite medium — writing. More surprising, however, was the extent to which trying cases allowed the actor in me to flourish and blossom. Although representing the client was my first priority as an attorney, doing so placed me at center stage with an opportunity to orchestrate a performance wherein the most compelling, persuasive, engaging and believable party was deemed the victor. In most cases, that party was mine and justice was indeed served.

After years of practicing law, fibromyalgia forced me to resign from my active law practice. I landed on disability. For a very long time, my health took center stage and the idea of self-expression was frivolous and thus banished. In illness, I lost myself and with it the need for self-expression. The passage of time silenced that part of me that delighted in or curious about the act of creation or self-expression. I came to deny that such a need existed. I was lulled into an existence where my thoughts and feelings were unimportant and the only thing that mattered was my ill health and all that it had taken from me. I was told repeatedly that this was an opportunity that few had — a clean slate upon which to create the life that I wanted. I wanted no part of it.

However, as time passed, I began to yearn for a creative outlet that allowed me to express myself in new and exciting ways.  With that in mind, I created a list of activities that I wanted to learn and incorporate it into my life as a positive and healthy form of self-expression; something to counter and out weigh the self-defeating thoughts and ideas that had become the norm.  I sought to banish the idea that I was not and could not be creative.

During the past year, I’m beginning to overcome the word “can’t” and surrender to both drawing and painting. I am allowing myself to explore various forms of self-expression, some new like photography, painting, and drawing, and others like journaling, blogging and even writing. I’ve come to realize that the move of the hips in dance, every line of a pencil in drawing, every mark or stroke of a brush in painting and every word choice in writing or song, conveys a particular thought, idea, or feeling. Through these forms of self-expression, we release fear and anger, as well as love, joy and happiness. Embracing self-expression can be an antidote to negative thinking, pain and sorrow and an affirmation of  forgiveness, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth and self-acceptance.

As I read Mary’s post, I found myself nodding in agreement with one sentence after another. She expresses, far better than I, my thoughts, the why and nature of self-expression, and its’ pull that once unleashed is self-fulfilling. Her words remind me that self-expression is yet another of the precious gifts given to humans as a product of being human, of being alive, and “that it can’t be explained, it can only be lived.”

Blessings, Lydia