…just because.



…”Stop being musicians and start being the music.”

World-renowned film composer and trumpet player Terence Blanchard was returning from a two-week stint in Japan when Hurricane Katrina struck his New Orleans hometown. Blanchard and his family were forced to evacuate from their New Orleans homes for months, and his evolution as a displace musician fighting for the cultural rebirth his hometown continues to blossom. A portion of Blanchard journey is captured in both the CD and the documentary, “Flow: Living in the Stream of Music,” that follows Blanchard and his band on a stunning round-the-world musical journey. Additionally, director Spike Lee invited Blanchard to score his tour-de-force 4-part documentary, “When the Levees Broke.” One of the most poignant scenes in the film depict Blanchard and his aged mother and aunt clinging to each other during the family’s first post-Katrina visit to their ravage homes. Today, Blanchard says his mother and aunt are on the verge of moving back into their homes, but he is still concerned about the future of his hometown as it struggles to recover from a storm that occurred nearly two years ago.
During a quick studio break on Friday evening from mixing the “Levee” soundtrack he’s re-scoring for release this summer, Blanchard says he is concentrating on keeping a spotlight on the gravity of the new Orleans situation were thousands of residents continue to suffer.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do with the album is keep the awareness out there,” said Blanchard. “When we were recording the record, we did a take of a tune I had written in the New Orleans tradition in 4/5. It was very upbeat kind of song and I was going to close the album with it. But we decided to pull it form the album because we didn’t want to give anybody the impression that everything was okay. You know, because we want people to still talk about what’s going on and be involved in what’s happening.”

Blanchard was a pivotal voice in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz “Commitment to New Orleans” initiative which includes the relocation of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance to the campus of Loyola University New Orleans from Los Angeles. “The Monk institute has a strong commitment to community service. They have a big outreach program that reaches a lot of high school, middle school and grade school kids. That program in itself will touch the lives of a lot of young kids outside the music world and hopefully will encourage some young musician in the field of jazz. We also told the students to come with a horn in one hand and a hammer in the other cause it’s all about rebuilding the city.”

The Institute’s programs will also provide employment for New Orleans musicians while attracting displaced musicians living in other areas of the country back to their hometown, and unite the city’s jazz, arts, and cultural communities.

“I don’t see the music (in New Orleans) as being lost forever because it’s such a part of our culture,” explained Blanchard. “It’s our DNA; you know, it’s what we’re made of. So I don’t ever really see that as something that’s going to be lost. But I do see (the music scene) taking a huge hit right now because there are a lot of musicians who are just not at home and they’re living elsewhere to make do, and that’s hard. I know some guys who’ve been instrumental in the music scene on New Orleans and they’re not in New Orleans right now. We have to be concerned about that. And there are people making efforts to bring those people back. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

“When it comes to jazz there’s certain cities in certain part of the country that get all the attention, you know, Detroit, New Orleans, Kansas City, New York. But, I went to school at Rutgers University and one of the things I learned is that New Jersey has a vast history with the music. And it gets overlooked a lot one of the pivotal creators of this music. He carved out a new path for the role of the guitar in jazz.

Terence was a featured panelist at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (he will also perform at the upcoming festival in 2007) and served as a keynote speaker at the Billboard Film and Television Music Conference in November. Flow: Living In The Stream of Music is scheduled to screen at various film festivals throughout 2006/2007, and has been touted as an engaging documentation of what it means to commit to a life in music, a landmark educational film for young people — and for anyone of any age facing the uncertain prospect of a career as a musician. “The overriding goal in what we do,” says Blanchard, “is to stop being musicians and start being the music.”

…Celebrating Black Men as Fathers

Celebrating a central role in families
Most mainstream media often overlook the role that Black men share as father, mentor and supporter. The distinct and unique role fathers have in African-American culture was explored with several Philadelphia fathers who reflected on the impact men and fathers have on their children.
Democratic mayoral candidate Michael Nutter says fatherhood is about teaching and guidance.“I think fatherhood is a very serious responsibility, as is motherhood,” said Nutter. “The impact that men and fathers have on their children is often underestimated or ignored or even downplayed. If you look at any of the television shows, the fathers are not necessarily actively involved, or in many cases not even around.”

“I learned any number of very important lessons in life from my own father, who is still with me. Whether as a young boy playing sports or learning how to throw or how to act in competition, there’s a verbal and non-verbal communication that goes on and kids pay attention to what their parents do and listen to what they say and often imitate those behaviors in their own lives. I certainly see many of those things with my own children.”

Nutter says the many life skills he learned from his father are shared with his own children, Olivia, 12 and Christian, 24, who flanked him last month onstage election night of Democratic nomination.

Fatherhood was the theme of Nutter’s most successful campaign commercials, which featured his daughter, Olivia, who discusses her father’s daily activities. Nutter says one of his prime responsibilities since pre-school is taking his daughter to school.

”(My children) have helped to make me the person that I am and, of course, for the better,” said Nutter.

“The fathers are often looked upon for that great kind of silent strength and are often seen as the protector and guardian. I think that’s a very powerful image and reality for many children throughout Philadelphia.”
Before he became a father, Yeadon resident Rajieb Allen, 31, thought he would eventually have several boys. Today, he says that his three daughters — Milan, 10, Morgan, 4, Meadow, 3 — have utterly transformed his life.

“Nowadays, being a father means everything to me because of the way the majority of the children are being raised and the things that change in the world,” said Allen.  “I can’t even put it into words, to tell you the truth.  It’s a delight to see them grow. I never thought I would have girls, so it’s just a change in life for me. It slowed me down tremendously. (Having daughters) made me look at life in many views. They are my future.”

Together, Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon are the husband and wife duo known as Kindred the Family Soul.

As a business couple, they run The Kulture Shop on Baltimore Avenue and as a loving Black family, they share their lives with their children Aquil, 8, Diya, 5, and Nina, 3.

Graydon says she see positive messages of love in the families throughout her neighborhood, yet many times Black men (especially the incarcerated) are overlooked.

“I think that the fathers who are out there busting their behinds and are really working and doing their thing are overlooked. I live on a block with fathers who take care of their children but are definitely overlooked. Even the fathers who do have unfortunate situations, where fathers are incarcerated or who have been incarcerated who come out and take care of their kids or who continue relationships with their children throughout a very difficult situation, and we forget about them too, but they exist.”

Dantzler says although his father was not involved in his life, another man helped him in his life’s journey.

“For every father, the experience is different in raising your children in the different ways that they may need you or in how you have to assist or teach them, things that you didn’t realize that you were a teacher of. That, within itself, is just a blessing and a beautiful thing that you get an opportunity to see yourself as a person who is worthwhile and meaningful in someone else’s life.

“We get an opportunity to see the direct connection that we have with our children. I value the opportunity to be in my children’s lives.”
Senator Vincent Hughes’ recalls his father every year with the James Hughes Memorial Scholarship Fund and Golf Classic named to honor his father’s legacy as an advocate for education in a way that is beneficial to young people seeking higher education opportunities.

Hughes says his father’s influence “was like a blanket blessing that hung over my life, and still does, because of his life, his work and who he was as a person. In life, he was solid as a rock for me. When I talked about running for public office, which came out of nowhere, he was right there asking the appropriate questions, probed and made sure he stood with me.”
Hughes won a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives at the age of 30. Today, Hughes and his wife, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, share a blended family which includes the Senator’s children, Ariell and Alek; grandchildren Dylan and Khaya; and Ralph’s children, Etienne and Ivy.

Hughes says the lessons he learned from his father are passed forward to the next generation.

“I’m a grandfather now,” reflected Hughes. “And I try to be solid, consistent and dependable for my children. I try to explain the pros and cons of what the issues are for them. And I try to do what I can to help them realize their dreams.”

=Originally Published in The Philadelphia Tribune on Father’s Day, June 17, 2007= 

…Does anybody really know what time it is?


This Sunday at 2 a.m., sleepy Americans will turn their clocks forward
one hour, thus marking the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (DST). If
it seems a bit early in the calendar year for the change, you are
right. It is the second year of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a
federal law extending Daylight Saving Time by about a month. As of
2007, DST starts the second Sunday of March and ends on the first
Sunday of November.

Every spring we move our clocks one hour ahead and “lose” an hour
during the night and each fall we move our clocks back one hour and
“gain” an extra hour. The phrase “spring forward, fall back” helps
people remember to perform this annual task, but many people ask why
DST is necessary. Ostensibly, DST helps save money through reduced
use of power by businesses during daylight hours. An early goal of DST
was to reduce evening usage of incandescent lighting, formerly a
primary use of electricity; however, modern heating and cooling usage
patterns can cause DST to increase electricity consumption. While
adding daylight to afternoons benefits retailing, sports, and other
activities that exploit sunlight after working hours, it also causes
problems for farming, entertainment and other occupations tied to the
sun. While extra afternoon daylight reduces traffic fatalities, its
effect on health and crime is less clear.

“When we entered an industrialized society then we could alter the
time as we wished,” explained Franklin Institute’s Chief Astronomer
Derrick Pitts. “When time moved from being a natural phenomena to this
thing you wear on your wrist, than that changed the world altogether.
Once electricity became widely available then we could have artificial
night so people could stay up later and people could work through the
night because we had power and light to see. This changed our natural
schedule of operation, so rather than us going to bed when the sun
goes down and getting up when the sun rises, we don’t get enough hours
of sleep anymore.”

Although standard time in time zones was instituted in the U.S. and
Canada by the railroads in 1883, it was not established in U.S. law
until the Act of March 19, 1918, sometimes called the Standard Time
Act. The act also established daylight saving time, a contentious idea
then. Daylight saving time was repealed in 1919, but standard time in
time zones remained in law. Daylight time became a local matter. It
was re-established nationally early in World War II, and was
continuously observed from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945.
After the war, its use varied among states and localities. The Uniform
Time Act of 1966 provided standardization in the dates of beginning
and end of daylight time in the U.S. but allowed for local exemptions
from its observance. The act provided that daylight time begin on the
last Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday in October, with the
changeover to occur at 2 a.m. local time.

The federal law that established “daylight time” in the United States
does not require any area to observe daylight saving time, and the
practice is controversial in some parts of the country. Arizona (with
the exception of the Navajo Nation) and Hawaii and the territories of
Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa are the only
places in the U.S. that do not observe DST but instead stay on
“standard time” all year long. Around the globe, more than one
billion people in about 70 countries around the world observe DST in
some form.

During the “energy crisis” years, Congress enacted earlier starting
dates for daylight time. In 1974, daylight time began on January 6
and in 1975, it began on February 23. After those two years, the
starting date reverted to the last Sunday in April. In 1986, a law was
passed that shifted the starting date of daylight time to the first
Sunday in April, beginning in 1987. The ending date of daylight time
was not subject to such changes, and remained the last Sunday in
October. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed both the starting and
ending dates.

“Saving energy should be a national priority that calls on every
American to realize the need to save,” noted Pitts. “Fooling around
with the time is a way for us to avoid the really hard issue that we
need to conserve and we need to change the way we use energy in this
country. That’s a tougher pill to swallow than us changing time,
apparently. This is much easier than trying to change our energy
industry by moving from a petroleum-based energy system to hydrogen or
solar-based energy system, or any of these alternative fuels.”