Just this past weekend I witnessed scores of police cars and vans lined up along the main highways here in Philadelphia. They had exits blocked off and security was at a very high level. Also there were helicopters arriving and leaving in packs of 3. My only guess was that this was designed to throw off any possible acts of terrorism. Yes, it is easy to tell that the Democratic Convention is coming to town here in Philadelphia. While I am not expected to be a part of it musically this year it still brings back old memories of the year 2000 when they had the Republican National Convention here in Philadelphia. George Bush was the nominee and for the very first night I had to perform for it with a Gospel group. That night, Brian McKnight, Chaka Khan, the Delfonics, and were the other opening entertainment acts along with us. I caught first hand how the CIA handles business when it comes to being a part of these types of festivities. First they needed our social security numbers. I guess they had to run background checks to see if any of us had a criminal history. Next they had us meet at a random location which was announced that day. This seemed as though it was done just to throw possible terrorists off. We all met at this location and they had a van ready to transport us to the venue. Just before we entered the building, the CIA asked us to get out of the van so that they could put mirrors with long sticks under the bus (to look for things like bombs). They also brought in bomb sniffing dogs. I had my guitar so they had to examine that as well. They do not play when it comes to safety measures. When we finally made it to the stage, I was looking at scores of people and television crews with cameras focused squarely on us. The speaker of the house back then whose name was Trent Lott, said to me, “You are about to be seen on television by 10.5 million people. Are you nervous?” I looked at him with a smile and simply said, “No… are you?” He then joked that he could sing if we needed him. I told him to hold that thought and be on standby. We did our parts and amazingly after that we were featured on national television and magazines for that whole entire week (I guess being an all African American Gospel group performing for the Republicans must have been a big thing). Many people talked about us (some negatively) but for me it was a just a gig, and as long as they paid me for it (which they did) then they were entitled to my services. It was worth going through all that security. If you have ever had to deal with protection people like the CIA then you already know what I am talking about. I can only imagine what it must be like at today’s level. I just wanted to share my own experience with you today. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Johnny Gil, Brett Jolly and Bobby Brown