Tag Archives: vocalo.org

Donny Hathaway: more than we could ask for.

A short piece on one of my favorite artists of all time. He was an amazing vocalist, as well as an expert arranger. In fact, the majority of songs on his Greatest Hits compilation album were popularized by someone else in completely different forms (i.e. “Giving Up” and “A Song For You”). Featuring audio from a rare interview of Donny from the mid 1970s.

This originally aired on Vocalo.org WBEW 89.5fm

If you like this sort of thing, check out my radio show Reclaimed Soul: http://vocaloreclaimedsoul.tumblr.com



Listen to Streaming Archives of my Radio Show: Reclaimed Soul.


Here in Chicago, Reclaimed Soul airs Thursdays 8-10PM (CST) on Vocalo.org 89.5fm. You can stream live at http://vocalo.org/player.

Now folks can listen anytime to radio featuring sound rich interviews and an all-vinyl playlist (courtesy of host Ayana Contreras). Reclaimed Soul is about taking old materials (records, buildings, ideas, et al) to push us all forward.


click here to access the archives now!

Waxing Poetic at Dorchester Projects.

Above, a bit of video from my Artistic Residency last year with Theaster Gates’ Dorchester Projects, in which I wax poetic about Chicago’s own Mercury Records, Jerry Butler, and the Impressions.

I love sharing the stories behind the music I love with the general public; and was reminded of that as I embark on Hosting and Producing “Reclaimed Soul” (a weekly radio show on Vocalo.org) which premieres tomorrow night at 8pm CST. The show, of course, will feature stories as well as music. For more about Reclaimed Soul, click here.

Announcing Darkjive on the Radio…

Coming this Thursday (and every Thursday) Darkjive.com’s Ayana Contreras hosts “Reclaimed Soul” on Vocalo.org (89.5fm in Chicago). The music you’ve come to expect from this site, plus stories from people moving forward with what’s been left behind.

Below is an excerpt from the first episode. Jive on!

Dear Michael….


What bothers me are bandwagon tributes.  An Icon, they say. A Genius.  The same cackling media outlets that refused to play Michael Jackson’s music for years, and affixed an implicit punchline to his name.  Whatever.  Artists are not perfect people. We can choose to accept the art without embracing the artist.  In the case of Michael Jackson, I embraced both[. 



Born in Gary, Indiana (a fairy tale story in and of itself) the whole family accomplished amazing things.  At one point, the Jackson 5 had the nickname of “Black Beatles” because of the Hysteria that ensued when they arrived on the scene.  But Michael, dear Michael.  He shook hands with the Queen.  He changed pop culture forever.  His music will live on forever.  And there’s a generation of us that will idolize him as long as we breathe as untouchably “bad”.  He gave us infinitely more than we ever gave him. 

So here come the tributes, the tears.  Celebrate genius in life.  Not as it’s ripped away.  Flowers for the dead pale in the glow of flowers for the living.

Steve Walsh and I interviewed his Brother, Tito, about the family’s story (including Michael’s) and about their Gary Roots.  Listen here:

And, from the FIRST Michael Jackson album, I bring you my joint, “I Wanna Be Where You Are”….


The Empowerment Experiment: Buying Black Exclusively for an Entire Year

I interviewed John and Maggie Anderson (an Oak Park, Illinois couple with two small children), who are conducting a social experiment: The Empowerment Experiment.  They are buying black, or patronizing Black-owned businesses exclusively, for one year.


In my interview with them (below), I talk to the Andersons about their “pledge” to buy black, the dark side of integration’s legacy, what it means to keep money in a community, whether buying black is racist, and what’s more important: buying black or buying green….

the above interview was originally broadcast on Vocalo.org 89.5fm.

Blackness…Finally Forgivable?

from the Stop Smiling Blog….

A Pugilist’s Pardon, Once Unforgivable

blog-johnson1It’s Jack Johnson, 1 — Scooter Libby, zero. Senator John McCain delivers some straight talk we can believe in with the announcement this week that he is seeking a presidential pardon for the late Jack Johnson, the nation’s first black heavyweight boxing champion, who he “feels was wronged by a 1913 conviction of violating the Mann Act by having a consensual relationship with a white woman” (read more about the story at AP); STOP SMILING featured Johnson on the cover of our Boxing Issue back in 2005, timing with the release of Ken Burn’s extraordinary documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. The final bell will be rung by President Obama.

Really? What’s McCain’s motivation? I remember an audio piece produced by my friend Kabuika for Vocalo.org in which an eleven year old kid asks Black Journalists if they think McCain is afraid of Black People (after McCain declined an invite to a Conference of Black Journalists in 2008).

McCain, Afraid of Black People? by Kabuika

So, what is McCain’s Motivation for pushing to pardon somebody who’s been dead sixty-0dd years?  Like the classic Tootsie Pop commercial, the world may never know

Vocalo.org: Live Radio Broadcast in North Lawndale

north-lawndale-vocaloVocalo.org (89.5FM), the community-based radio station/website, will be broadcasting live this Friday, March 20th (tomorrow) at Carter’s Barbershop in the North Lawndale community of Chicago.  Their current tagline is:  “Real Talk. Local Music. No Commercials. “, and they play a blend of user-generated audio (interviews, opinions) and music (with a heavy emphasis on local groups from Sea and Cake to Black Holes and Shala), mixed with live, topical conversation.

The issue they will be tackling from the barber’s chair will be the new Stimulus Package: how everyday people will be effected, and how individual communities will benefit.  They will also ask what people would do to fix their ‘hood if they had control of the money.  Everyone is invited to speak their piece (on-air) Town Hall-style.  They are also invited to line up their fade.

Here’s the details:

Vocalo.org @ Carter’s Barbershop

Friday, March 20th, 4-7pm

3620 W Cermak Rd # 1 (near Millard)
Chicago, IL 60623

If you can’t join them during the broadcast, you can always speak your piece on the hotline: (888)635-1112

photo, the old Sears & Roebuck Tower on Homan in North Lawndale.

Support Your Local Record Store @ Sonotheque (TONITE)

mainimage Nuff Said.

…..wait, that’s a lie.  One more thing to say.  Click here for my interview with the folks from Beverly Records (a spot near Mr. Peabody’s shop, on 116th and Western, that’s been around since the 1960s).

Sonari is Mixed


This is an interview I conducted for Vocalo.org some time ago, in which a Black man (NPR’s Sonari Rhodes Glinton) concedes he is “mixed”: Half African and Half African-American.  At first listen, the categorization sounds almost comical, but consider his viewpoint: one major factor in Ethnicity is culture… and no one can argue that Africans and African-Americans aren’t culturally distinct.  Above is a picture of dear Sonari (many moons ago):

Listen to a few minutes of his story below:

Sonari is Mixed

On a similar topic, the culture clash (and level of misunderstanding) between Africans and African-Americans has always tripped me out (i.e. Fela Kuti was not swinging on vines).


I discovered a blog recently that a very gracious African set up to address pervasive, negative stereotypes (plus, it’s really funny):


here’s a taste:

from “The Name Debacle”

Posted July 2, 2008 by stuffafricanshate

“Damn,” one of them said after hearing one of the names.

Behind me was a family dressed in traditional Nigerian garb that were hissing their teeth at what was becoming quite an uncomfortable and condescending situation.

“If that were a white person down there saying Juanita or DaShauna or Fredricka and laughing, black people would walk out in offense,” said one Nigerian woman behind me.

“Well, maybe he should have used an American name,” said another.


I had to Zack Morris (step outside of) the situation and analyze what was happening.

Here on darkjive, there’s an earlier post in which Steve Walsh and I talk about the ad below, and why it “ruffles my feathers” (as opposed to “shakes my tailfeather” [okay. that was just silly]). Then, a Nigerian puts his two cents in.