Alexander O’neal is an R&B singer who had a couple of hit songs from the late 80’s to the 90’s. Some of his hits were “Criticize” and my personal favorite “Fake.” In a recent interview, O’neal admitted that he has been a drug abuser for the last 30 years (Most people in the industry, including me, already knew this). He admitted that he had been in an out of rehab several times, and he accepts full responsibility for the demons that plague him. He also said that there are many other music celebs who also have major drug issues, but for them the “musical powers that be” readily accepted it rather than try to get them help. Here is his article for you to check out for yourself:
Years ago I had the pleasure to perform with Alexander O’neal and Cherelle onstage. I had heard about his addiction beforehand (We all had) so I was waiting to see if I could read his “state of mind” during sound check. He was dressed immaculately in a suit and tie, but his eyes were “red as a beat.” He didn’t say much, and stood there as though he didn’t quite recognize the world around him. Cherelle seemed much more coherent than him but at least he was in good enough condition to sing. Even though he seemed to forget some of the lyrics to his own songs we got through the gig safely. The music industry only cares about how much money you can make for them. If you have outlived your usefulness they will just find a new artist to promote and place you on the shelf. If you have a major drug habit, they will only continue to exploit you until you have “fizzled out.” A perfect example of that is legendary songbird Whitney Houston. As awesome a talent as she was, she was still a drug addict whose demons conquered her. Instead of placing her in rehab or forcing her to get help, her people shrugged their shoulders and just allowed her to do herself in. There are many other examples over the years, from Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Rick James to Michael Jackson. When you think about it, it really isn’t the responsibility of the industry leaders to make an artist go to rehab, but we all know they have enough influence and power to make it happen. At least Alexander O’Neal is someone that is still alive to tell his story. The question here is “Will the industry care enough to listen?” Maybe one day the industry will clean up its act, but until then we need to continue to brace for the next Alexander O’neal to come along. Music is expression, and maybe through an artist’s songs you can hear that “cry for help.” Just check out the tunes of Amy Winehouse. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
My youngest daughter is in college, and I am one of those parents who “always wants to make sure that my kids know they can talk to me about anything.” I “never” want to be one of those parents who just “dictates to kids” and never listens… My daughter and I talk from time to time, but she also reaches out to me for advice. There is a boy that she has some attraction to, and she thinks he is attracted to her as well. They have been talking, but she told me recently that the texts between them have not been as frequent. As a parent I felt my first responsibility was to listen to her entirely before saying anything. Sometimes kids just need to vent and not be interrupted. I always give my kids the chance to say whatever they feel. After she finished I told her that relationships go “both ways.” If he is truly interested in you then he will also miss the communication if you “stop texting him back.” I let her know that sometimes men get complacent in their ways, and often they may take things for granted. The best thing she can do is have “other alternatives and not wait around for him.” I am not saying that she should date other boys, but she does not need to be dependent on a relationship with any man (and NEVER let your studies slip over a relationship). When it comes to love we all have feelings from the heart. However, it is extremely important to make sure that the other person has the same feelings for you. There is absolutely “nothing wrong” with allowing yourself to be “missed” from time to time. If someone feels that you are “available ALL the time” it might taint a relationship. A “50-50” love relationship is a great thing, but it is extremely rare. That’s because people love to different degrees and most have different ways of expressing it. If it means holding back how you really feel at first then don’t hesitate to do so. One of the worst feelings in the world is to totally give yourself to someone without feeling that you are loved back. I also made sure to tell my daughter that if he no longer wants to communicate with her then he is “obviously not the one for her.” Sometimes “the heart wants what it wants,” but that is when the mind needs to take over. If things no longer feel good, then most times there is a reason for it. You may want to find out that reason, but you may find that doing so will not change the outcome most times. I told her to be sure of herself before committing to any man, because God will surely “bless the woman that’s got her own.” She told me that what I said made sense, and she thanked me for the advice. I told her that is “what real daddies do.” Life with kids is never perfect, but being a good parent means dealing with the tough times when they need you. I will never shirk that responsibility… Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Needless to say, it was a wild adventure in Philadelphia with the Pope being in town over the weekend. It was pretty much a circus-like atmosphere with so much happening that at times I actually felt sorry for the man. He “had” to have been tired from all the hoopla surrounding his visit, and at his age I know it had to have been a lot for him to contend with. We had police and secret servicemen “everywhere.” They rode motorcycles, bikes, and walked on foot. In fact, there were “so many” police and firemen around that if anyone else in the city had a burglary or fire they were just “plain out of luck.” We had helicopters constantly flying overhead, and trying to travel “anywhere” in the city was a challenging adventure. We were “locked in.” Even the roads that the Pope “wasn’t going to use” got shut down with barriers (for whatever reasons I just couldn’t understand). Since I lived 2 blocks from where he was staying you could only imagine the scenario. People were lined up along the street sitting on the curb just waiting for the Pontiff to come by. The ironic part about all of this is that the Pope himself didn’t want to be driven around in one of those fancy “security proof cars.” Instead he opted for the simplicity of riding in a dark colored Fiat. I watched him (and his motorcade) come up the street. He had police cars on each side (and behind and in front of him) just so that no one could do harm to him. He didn’t get to stay at his lodging place for very long. The city had “many activities” for him that seemed to last all day. I saw at one point he looked “really exhausted from all of this.” While I am glad that he came through our city and shed a “positive light” on a lot of people here, I try not to get caught up in “worshiping the man.” If it were the Lord Himself I could fully understand everything, but as far as I can recall I don’t think Pope Francis himself ever made any “miracles happen.” I believe the people just gravitated to what he “represents.” It will be interesting to see if the climate of our city will “change for the better” after this visit. It is one thing to worship the man, but will our crime now decrease any as a result of his visit? Will our nation now enact measures to curb the environmental damage to our world climate now? Will the rich reach out and give to the poor as the Pope suggested in his speeches? Will we now welcome immigrants and accept them as he asked, which seems to be against the will of most of our Presidential candidates? Will the inmates that he visited in the prisons now be forgiven? If he can make “even one” of these things happen, then in my eyes he will have accomplished his “miracle.” Jesus was all about “giving and forgiving.” He didn’t own a church. Will we all follow in those footsteps or will we all go back to our regular selfish mentality? “Change may be needed, but change is not always welcomed.” “The light was here… Let’s hope that the light has not left with him…” Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Today is the day that the Pope arrives in my home town. Roads are already closed and traveling anywhere will seem extremely hectic this weekend. My frustration will be magnified because he will be staying just 2 blocks from where I live, so I already know what to expect. While I realize that this visit will do great things for the city of Philadelphia I still can’t help but wonder why people idolize this man to such a degree. I recognize that he is the top religious figure in the world, but does that make him any more human or any less fallible than the rest of us? Of course, for a lot of that won’t even matter as long as he can “convert lives for the better.” We ALL need that. However, should we worship the man more than we worship the Creator? I have heard several people ask that question. We all need people of motivation. Pastors do their best to “inspire people” in their sermons to improve their qualities of life, and many of them are looked up to. Given that scenario, should the Pope be considered any more (or any less) of an influence? There are many different religions in this world, and many different customs of practice for those religions. Also, different pastors can read a scripture and come up with different definitions of what those scriptures actually mean. Which ones do we follow? When it comes to faith and religion, the key ingredient should be found “within yourself.” The “light that shines within you” depends on your own “internal switch.” There is nothing wrong with allowing a man to be your source of inspiration religiously, but we all need to realize that our leaders are every bit as human as the rest of us, and through God’s eyes “none of us” are perfect. Whatever (and whoever) it takes to make you “see the light of God” is what’s most important. While the Pope’s visit to my hometown may be significant, it is what we all think “after he leaves” that will determine our true values of life. I would like to thank the Pope for coming to Philadelphia, and even though I don’t think that all traffic needs to be shut down because of him, I do hope that his visit will produce much more positive than negative results. If that can happen, then to me this visit will be “more than worth it.” Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
I absolutely “love” this. This is as unlikely a pair that you will ever see combined musically onstage. Luciano Pavarotti was one of the most acclaimed opera voices of all time, and James Brown was the “Godfather of soul. When I first saw this my eyes lit along with my smile. This was beautiful, and it was awesome to see a great matchup like this. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Here it goes: Luciano Pavarotti and James Brown singing a duet in concert:
Yesterday I went to my barber (Yes, I still go to one, so you can stop laughing now) and aside from getting my hair cut, I usually have good conversations with him. For those of you who don’t remember, I wrote about him before. Years ago he was young and foolish and decided to drive with his friends while recklessly shifting lanes on a highway. Well, his actions cost him the lives of one of his friends and two passengers in the approaching car. To make a long story short, he spent time in jail, he dropped to his knees in court and asked the families of the victims to forgive him. He was cut a break on his jail time and is now leading a “changed lifestyle” with a new attitude in life. He told me yesterday that considering his circumstances he could never ever be in judgment of anyone. We both agreed that it is easy for most people to judge others based on the “surface story alone” but in some cases those judgments could be highly scrutinized when given the background of those who actually committed the infractions. Most times we are “quick” to criticize the bank robber for robbing banks, and yet we may never take into consideration that this man (or woman) just might have hit rock bottom after being turned down on “numerous job applications.” What about the prostitute who works the streets selling her body because of her experiences when she grew up up being abused and molested constantly by friends and family? What about the child molester who suffered from the same things when he or she was younger? As a society we read about the infractions committed and the first thing we do is “form a negative opinion or judgment based on what we read.” However, what if that article doesn’t take into consideration the torment this person suffered while growing up institutionalized or the medication that the person was on that made him or her react that way? One thing we both agreed on was that “no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.” If it is true that God forgives us, then “should it be considered unGodly if we choose NOT to forgive?” There is an old saying that goes like this: “Let he who is without sin cast the very first stone.” For the record, I am not saying that we should let all those who are guilty of crimes free. However, I do believe that most (if not all) of those incarcerated can be rehabbed and possibly even trained to function in society with a new chance. I also believe that we can reach out to the families of troubled youths and work with them “before they commit a crime” so that they can at least feel that “someone cares.” A child without hope is a child lost. If I had a choice between building more prisons and building more schools I would gladly take the latter. My barber got a second chance in life and he is now making the most of it. I honestly believe that others might do the same if they are “only given that opportunity.” I’m sure there are people out there who will disagree with me and probably judge men on today’s Daily Thought. I can deal with that… In the end, I know that there is only “one” judgment that “really” matters… Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
There are great pianists all throughout history that can play fantastic riffs, but I couldn’t find anyone who could match the magic of Oscar Peterson. The effortless myriads of complex and mystical melodies just emanated from this man with just a mere thought behind a grand. If he could think it, he could play it. As great as he was, still a lot of people had never heard of him. He died on a night when I was actually playing near his home in Ontario, Canada. If you would like to know more about this man, you only need to “Google” his name. When it comes to jazz piano, you will be hard pressed to find anyone better. Today I wanted to share this for all who would ever like to play piano in hopes that you can find inspiration from this man. “Greatness is what greatness does… and Oscar Peterson did greatness well…” Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Last week I had the chance to see the comedian Sinbad in concert here in Philadelphia at the Keswick theater. I had never gone to a comedy concert before, but this was definitely worth it. for those of you who don’t know (or don’t remember) Sinbad was most famous during the 1990’s, appearing as an actor on different programs from the “Cosby Show” to “A different World.” I just recently saw him play the role of a judge on a rerun series entitled “Are we there yet” and he was “hilarious.” He has had some personal issues in his life (Don’t we all?) but it was great to see him do his thing so well. For those of you who would like to know more about him, just check out the link above. The one thing that makes him so “unique” is that he does “clean comedy.” In other words, there is no profanity in his performance (and yet he is still funny without it). His ability to interact with the audience and be funny is phenomenal. He will ask someone questions to random people about anything in their lives and then make an instant joke out of it on the spot. That’s “natural comedy.” After the show was over, I was able to visit and talk with him backstage. He is a very down to earth man who is “just crazy and not well at all.” If that is what it takes to be a successful comedian then he “most definitely has it.” For those of you who have never seen his show, I invite you to check it out for yourself. I “thoroughly” enjoyed myself and would definitely go back to see him. If you get the chance, I think you would love it too. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today, and as always I wish the very best to you and your family:)
Just last week I did a television interview on the Ruth Weisberg show. We had a fun time and now I have the chance to post it for today. On this show you can get my views on a “lot” of the musical topics that I have already featured in my Daily Thought. Thank you for checking out the show and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer. Have a great day.
I had my Wednesday Night Grand slam “open mic” event last night. It is always fun. I have my live band and people come out to either listen or sing onstage. Usually the talent there is “phenomenal.” However, every once in a while (or maybe every twice in a while) we encounter a singer or musician who “may not be up to standards.” Instead of referring to them as bad singers I just simply say that they are “vocally challenged.” I had a couple of them last night. I try to be supportive as possible but often my own facial expressions give me away. If it is “too awful” I may turn my head back towards the drummer so that the audience won’t see me cracking up onstage. After I finally compose myself the faces of the audience will alert me to the fact that we need to “cut this song short.” No one is perfect, and I applaud anyone who wants to try singing onstage with a live band. Some of them will ask me afterwards how well they did. I will never say that they were awful, however, I will offer constructive criticism and I will make positive suggestions. I am not out to hurt anyone’s feelings. Since I always try a new tune (usually for the very first time) each week I also have my moments where I might not sing perfectly. I always let the audience know beforehand that this is the “very first time” we are attempting to play this song (because with our busy schedules, we never have time to rehearse anything). That helps to “soften the blow” just in case the song does not do so well. If you came across a “vocally challenged singer” how would “you” reply back to him or her? Would you be “brutally honest,” would you try to sugarcoat it or would you just outright lie about it? I always say that lying to someone could be damaging at a later point. I think that being brutally honest could really hurt someone’s feelings. In a case like this, I say “never mention that the singer was truly awful.” Instead just point out a few things that you think the artist might need to work on. I told a lady last night that she just needs to get acclimated to singing with a live band. I told her there is a big difference between singing with a live band and singing with karaoke. I also told her she needed to project more instead of trying to “soft sing” her way through a song. Hopefully she took it in a positive way. Not everyone is musically gifted, but it is important to be humane in how you address other people. I will always continue to stress positive things that will help people rather than bring them down. Hopefully you can see that method as well (because everyone who lives long enough will encounter a “vocally challenged” singer at some point in their lives). Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.