Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Classic Album Revisited

Donny Hathaway's musical roots were firmly planted within the walls of the sanctified church. Donny never left the church, and the church surely never left Donny. Everything Is Everything, released in '70, captured Donny's gospel ubringing. Everything is Everything spoke of love, hope, pride,inspiration, salvation, the ghetto and tryin' times. The title track, "Voices Inside [Everything Is Everything]" is a straight up jam session, it's evident that Donny and his fellow musicians let loose in the studio and had a good old time. "Je Vous Aime [I Love You]",co-written by Donny, an infectious love song was written for his wife Eulaulah. "I Believe to My Soul", a Ray Charles song, was covered by Donny Hathaway. Unlike Ray's version, which was a slow, brooding reading, Donny did something totally different. Donny kicked up the tempo and made it a lil' funky. "I Believe To My Soul" spoke of a man who believed that his woman was unfaithful. Donny testified "last night while you were sleeping, I heard you say Oooh Ronny, when you know...when you know my name is Donny...I believe...I said I believe you are trying to make a fool outta me..." Like the title track, Sugar Lee, a song written by Donny and Ric Powell was a straight up jam session with few lyrics. Donny was no stranger to the struggles of his people, "Tryin' Times" a song which had been recorded by Roberta Flack and Pops Staples, highlighted the suffering of man. "Thank You Master [For My Soul]," reminds you that Donny could have easily been a gospel artist. Written by Donny, "Thank You Master [For My Soul]," which includes an unforgettable piano solo, is nothing more than straight up church music. Donny is simply thanking the Lord. "The Ghetto" with it's memorable drums, takes you on a tour of the ghetto, the feel good elements of the ghetto. Inspired by the Lorraine Hansberry play To Be Young, Gifted, and Black, Nina Simone composed the highly inspirational song "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black." On her 1970 live album, Black Gold, Nina stated of the song "It is not addressed, primarily, to white people, though it doesn't put you down in any way. It simply ignores you! For my people need all the inspiration and love that they can get." Donny's emotional reading of this song is out of this world. Listening to Donny sing "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" brings tears to dry eyes. It would be easy to believe that Donny recorded this song within the walls of a packed Baptist church,"Young, Gifted and Black" takes you back...back to church. With pride and defiance Donny testified "that we are young...gifted...gifted and black...and that's sho'nuff where it's at..." In the words of Nina Simone, "Nuff said!"