Last Fall, in conjunction with the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing the music of Mama Sol, who performed at our Matrix Networking Reception. Now that was a real treat. I can’t say that I’m a fan of rap music in general, but there are a few artists whose work transcends the particular genre they happen to operate in. In the rap arena, my favorite example is Public Enemy. In R&B, the quintessential example would be Stevie Wonder. Mama Sol is one of those unique artists who capture and reflect their time and place in this world. She does so in a way that convinces you that she feels her poetry in her bones, in her SOUL. Her poetry can simultaneously convey sweetness, familiarity, anger, and inspiration. The fact that she is of, by, and for Flint, Michigan is really special, but her music is by no means limited or limiting. Last Fall, I called her Flint’s poet laureate, and I was not exaggerating.
If you want to be inspired, check out Mama Sol’s latest, Go O.F.F., or the earlier Inside Out. Let me know what you think.
Kishna and I had the pleasure of meeting Mama Sol in conjunction with last Fall’s Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint.
It is hard to find the words to describe all that has transpired in 2016. I have so much to say, but where shall I begin? In many ways, for me and my family, 2016 brought many new accomplishments and blessings, but as we exit the year, I feel an enormous sense of foreboding and concern. I’ll have more to say about that later, in a different post.
I admire my friends who have written eloquent essays and family updates at the end of each year. I can’t match what they have done, so I’ve decided to share some pictures and just a few words to capture some of the highlights of my life in 2016. If you were connected to any of these happenings in any way, I thank you for sharing the journey. Here we go…
Yes, of course I realize that 2015 has arrived, but in many ways i’m just not ready to accept that fact. Perhaps that is why I’m just now getting around to sending out a New Year post on January 8. I happen to be sitting at home in front of my computer, getting ready to head over to Ann Arbor and greet a fresh new class of U-M IOE 422 Entrepreneurship students. I had to first pause and send this missive though, because if I don’t do so today I might not get around to it before May or June. Continue reading →
On January 20, 2014, David Tarver was privileged to speak to the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) North Campus Community at the annual Martin Luther King Spirit Awards event. His address walked the audience through the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s as seen through the eyes of “a kid from Flint, Michigan.” He touched on the impact of the civil-rights movement, and the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, on our past, present, and future. The core message in his address was that Dr. King helped to set the template for our humanity, and that that template is more important than ever in an age of rapid social, cultural, and technological change.
Sometimes we experience something that is so special it seems divine, preordained. I had just such an experience in Jamaica back in 1998. The place was the Breezes (Jamaica Jamaica) resort in Runaway Bay, St. Anne, Jamaica. This was back when the place still seemed special and off the beaten path, before they built the highway that cut the drive from Montego Bay from 2-1/2 hours down to less than 1. I was there with my mother and her three siblings, who were the guests of honor, and several family members. Breezes had a nightclub upstairs at the time, and every Thursday they would put on something called Staff and Guest Night. Being the ham that I am, I just had to sing with the outstanding band there, Wrights Incorporated, led by my (now) friends Robert Anderson and Dayal Cadien. I wasn’t the only family member to perform, though. A few acts before I sang, my Uncle Emerald did his Redd Fox – style comedy routine, and he had ’em falling on the floor with laughter. I mean, he could have taken that act to Vegas. When it was my turn to perform, I was quite nervous. The nightclub was packed with people, and the atmosphere was electric. Two beautiful young Jamaican girls had just performed a powerful, sexy dance hall routine, and you could feel their energy spraying over the audience. It felt as if we were in a happening place at the edge of the earth, the way folks must have felt at Rick’s in Casablanca. I didn’t know if the band would play my song correctly, because we had only practiced part of it that afternoon, and only for a few minutes. The place was loud, with everyone drinking and carousing and styling and partying. Then the entertainment director, Carlton, introduced me. After he did, and the band started playing, my nervous energy morphed into confidence, and I sang the song. I still think it is my single best performance to date — and it brought the house down. The special thing I’ll always remember is that at the end of the song, I pointed to my comedian uncle and said, “That’s my uncle right there you know.” He shouted back, proudly, “That’s my nephew!” I find myself thinking about that night a lot lately. My mother’s siblings are all gone now — Uncle Emerald, Uncle Bill, Aunt Mary — and my mom is hanging on and fighting with everything she has. Now the performance has taken on even more significance, because I can play the recording and remember when we were all together, enjoying and loving life, enjoying and loving each other. I’m going to share the recording with you, with apologies and appreciation to James Ingram who first performed it.
Received a message from my co-star Anthony D’Amato yesterday reminding me of our 2005 production of The Wiz, at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey. Anthony, who brought the house down as the Cowardly Lion, is based in Chicago now. Of course I’m now back in Michigan. Those were fun days, though, and a welcome diversion from my tech career and community activism. Still don’t know how I feel about that Superfly outfit, though!