Writings, Essays, Lyrics, Musings, Commentary . . .
Article #1: James Farmer Black Image AwardWinter, 2000 - by Gaye Adegbalola
The James Farmer Black Image Awards are presented annually to Blacks in the city of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and its surrounding counties of Spotsylvania, Stafford and Caroline. The award categories are business, education, government, community service, and the arts. Every nominee must complete the application process which includes an essay on how her/his endeavors have impacted the black community. I won this award in the Arts category for 1999.
The BLUES was born in response to an oppressed people's need for freedom of expression. The BLUES is the poor person's psychiatrist. It addresses real life problems and seeks to find real life solutions. The singer is the spokesperson for the listener and readily offers that you are not alone. I try to do this.
The BLUES is perhaps our only history written by and for working class black people in the early 1900's. Angela Davis, noted activist, recently published a book, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. In it, she documents how the early black diva addressed urgent social issues and helped shaped collective modes of black consciousness. These blues women of the 1920's represented intellectual independence. I embody this legacy.
The BLUES FORM is perhaps the most significant musical development in the music of the western civilization. From the BLUES has come rhythm and blues,rock and roll, soul music, and jazz. Even rap is considered to be today's social equivalent of early blues. The BLUES has many faces--Delta blues from Mississippi, Piedmont blues from the East coast, Chicago style electric blues, Texas shuffle blues, California style jump blues, Memphis style, etc., etc. However, the first blues ever recorded is what we call CLASSIC BLUES--the blues of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter and many, many others. It is my mission to continue the evolution of this particular branch of this musical family tree--to keep this slice of history alive, to preserve our roots.
While I try to maintain the BLUES FORM in all my compositions, I write about contemporary content, contemporary problems (often in a humorous way). The BLUES CONTENT thrives on double and triple entendre. It is poetically rich. My song topics address ageism, sexism, domestic abuse, unemployment, education, civil rights, health insurance, incest, i.e. contemporary problems. In turn, I hope the messages empower the victims of the specified oppression. I strive to empower.
In terms of the Fredericksburg area, individually and as a part of Saffire--the Uppity Blues Women, I have helped to raise thousands of dollars for the Habitat for Humanity, the Women's Resource Center, the Walker-Grant Alumni Association, the Pet Assistance League, Rappahannock Hospice, etc. Saffire also performs benefits across the nation for socially significant organizations. I find it imperative to financially contribute.
My art, the BLUES, has captured my heart. I have focused my life's work on sharing the goodness of its spirit. Through the music, I hope to bring joy and relief, enlightenment and empowerment to my local and global communities.