William Ferguson, “The Music They Made,” New York Times (12/27/12):Etta James, Dave Brubeck, Davy Jones, Levon Helm, Donna Summer, Chuck Brown, Ed Cassidy, Greg Ham, Jimmy Castor, Ravi Shankar, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Ronnie Montrose, Jon Lord, Michael Davis, Joe South, Chavela Vargas, Duck Dunn, Johnny Otis, Whitney Houston, Jimmy Ellis, Adam Yauch, Mickey Baker, Bill Doss, Ketty Wells, Bob Babbitt, Robin Gibb, Andy Williams, Terry Callier
To love anything—music, literature, comedy, sports, whatever—is to be perpetually saying goodbye.
over there is the year
—Kobayashi Issa, 1763-1827 (translated from Japanese by David G. Lanoue)
FASTEN SEATBELT WHILE SEATED
USE BOTTOM CUSHION FOR FLOTATION
—Saturday morning, on a flight from Chicago to a family gathering in Lincoln, Nebraska, this was on the back of the seat in front of me
Some things are better left unexamined. Like, for instance, flying on a commercial airplane. If I thought much about it, I’d never do it.
Then suddenly I could hear Q-Tip—blessed Q-Tip!—not a synthesizer, not a vocoder, but Q-Tip, with his human voice, rapping over a human beat. And the top of my skull opened to let human Q-Tip in, and a rail-thin man with enormous eyes reached across a sea of bodies for my hand. He kept asking me the same thing over and over: You feeling it? I was. My ridiculous heels were killing me, I was terrified I might die, yet I felt simultaneously overwhelmed with delight that “Can I Kick It?” should happen to be playing at this precise moment in the history of the world, and was now morphing into “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I took the man’s hand. The top of my head flew away. We danced and danced. We gave ourselves up to joy.
—Zadie Smith, “Joy,”The New York Review of Books, 1/10/13
A Tribe Called Quest, “Can I Kick It?” (album, 1990; single, 1991)
Inez Andrews, gospel singer, April 14, 1929-December 19, 2012
Today, remembering her, we revisit some favorite clips.
Fierce, insistent, soaring—this voice, which I first heard over 30 years ago, still gives me chills.
With the Andrewettes, “Let the Church Roll On,” live (TV broadcast), 1964
With Rev. James Cleveland & the Metro Mass Choir, “We Are Soldiers in the Army,” live, 1981
“A Stranger in the City,” “He Lives In Me,” “Lord, Don’t Move The Mountain,” “Mary Don’t You Weep,” live, Chicago (Apostolic Church of God), 1988
The Caravans’ star then was Inez, whom they called the High Priestess. She looks the part. A coffee-colored woman with high Indian cheekbones and an intense, almost drugged stare, she can sing higher natural notes than anyone on the road. Tina [Albertina Walker] said, ‘The rest of us sang awhile, but the folks really wanted to hear Inez whistle.’
—Anthony Heilbut, The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times (6th ed. 2002)
Determination is important. You’ve got to be determined to live what you sing as well as sing what you sing. God understands the . . . difficulty that we go through for the truth. The Bible says your determination will be rewarded because God sees it when no one else does.
Inez Andrews, whose soaring, wide-ranging voice — from contralto croon to soul-wrenching wail — made her a pillar of gospel music, died on Wednesday at her home in Chicago. She was 83.
The cause was cancer, said her son Richard Gibbs.
“She was the last great female vocalist of gospel’s golden age,” said Anthony Heilbut, author of “The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times” (1971), a history of that era, from the mid-1940s to the early ’60s. Ms. Andrews was known as the “High Priestess,” Mr. Heilbut said, ranking among the likes of Mahalia Jackson, Marion Williams, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Clara Ward.
Ms. Andrews came to national attention in 1958 with the Caravans, the Chicago gospel group led by Albertina Walker that also nurtured such stars as Shirley Caesar, the Rev. James Cleveland and Bessie Griffin. That year she was the lead singer for what became two of the Caravans’ biggest hits.
One was “I’m Not Tired Yet,” an up-tempo shout song in which she belted out, “I’ve been running for Jesus a long time/No, I’m not tired yet.”
The other was “Mary Don’t You Weep” — a rearrangement, by her, of the old spiritual into a rip-roaring sermonette. It was the Caravans’ first big hit and helped make them one of the nation’s most popular gospel groups. Ms. Andrews was the lead singer on other hits like “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand,” “He Won’t Deny Me” and her own composition, “I’m Willing to Wait.”
Ms. Andrews began her career with two groups in Birmingham, Ala., her hometown: Carter’s Choral Ensemble and the Original Gospel Harmonettes. By the mid-1950s, the Harmonettes were one of the nation’s top gospel groups, with Ms. Andrews the understudy for the group’s lead singer, Dorothy Love Coates. It was Ms. Coates who recommended Ms. Andrews to the Caravans.
In 1962 Ms. Andrews left the Caravans to start her own group, Inez Andrews and the Andrewettes. They toured the country performing songs like “It’s in My Heart” and her composition “(Lord I Wonder) What Will Tomorrow Bring?” But by 1967 she was touring as a soloist, and in 1973 she recorded her biggest hit, “Lord Don’t Move the Mountain.”
“Lord don’t move the mountain/Give me the strength to climb,” she sang.
From a seductive, bluesy sound — often singing behind the beat — Ms. Andrews could burst into an impassioned, raspy cry.
“Even in songs of rejoicing, her voice has a somber undertone,” Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times in 1990, “and when she takes on supplicating songs like the midtempo ‘Lord I’ve Tried’ or the glacial minor-key blues of ‘Stand by Me’ — both of which rise, verse by verse, to a near-scream — Ms. Andrews can sound desperate, on the verge of hysteria. Hers is a gospel of terror, and of the relief faith provides.”
These pieces—Bach’s cello suites—I’ve been listening to for over 40 years. I never tire of them. Never.
Johann Sebastian Bach, Suite No. 5 in C minor for Unaccompanied Cello, excerpt (Sarabande); Mischa Maisky, cello
WKCR-FM’s Bach Festival—one of my favorite musical events of the year—begins tonight at 9 p.m. (EST). It runs, continuously, until midnight New Year’s Eve. That a world so full of so much junk has room in it for this, too, amazes me.