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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Art of Listening

In an ever evolving and fast paced society of 'me me me' and instant gratification, it seems we tend to not listen as much as we should. I've experienced it in personal relationships, where I've talked my heart out, and yet wasn't felt 'heard'. I wondered, did they listen to anything I said? You see people screaming at each other over issues in politics and wonder is anyone really listening and trying to objectively understand the other person's point of view? Sometimes in our own enthusiasm to share or let the other person know how we feel, in relation to what they are saying, we may miss something. With friends or family, they may not always want advice, rather they may just want someone to 'listen'.

This phenomenon isn't unique to personal relationships, it happens in business. I started to notice how many times either I was being cut off, or in fact I was doing the same. It seemed as though each person is rushing subconsciously to make their own point. I was particularly frustrated and decided that the first thing I was going to do from that day was to make a conscious decision to slow down. It all begins with you, right? I remain focused on what they are saying, not thinking about what point I want to make, until they have finished their thought. If appropriate I ask questions about whatever they said. This reinforces to me that I had 'heard' them, and in turn perhaps the person on the other end will do the same by slowing the pace of the conversation whenever possible. Being in the moment, and not already jumping ahead to the next point or thought has become something I try to remain keenly aware of.
One of the lessons I've learned in life is we can't change people, but we can change ourselves.

Social experts and therapists always tout communication, it seems as though we need to cultivate the art of listening as a major part of that process.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson: I Remember The Time

I remember seeing you and hearing you for the first time.
I remember cutting out photo's and posters taping them to my wall.
I remember moving to Los Angeles, and talking about you so much that my parents tired
of hearing me speak of you - so much so that I had to give you another name for a while.
I remember scraping up pennies to buy SOUL Magazine, and later Right On! because you were always in them.
I remember living in a cheap motel during this time, as our family had fallen on hard times, but vividly remember the inspiration I got from reading about you and looking at those pictures.

I remember looking at photo's of your family and wondering what it was like to be a Jackson.
I remember feeling proud as I looked at your family, somehow seeing myself in you and knowing my friends felt the same.
I remember how we talked about you at school, and danced to your songs in the school gym.
I remember taping your photo to my locker and in the hollow of my desk just to keep you near.
I remember every time I would lift that desk top, I'd see your face smiling back at me.
I remember dancing, singing and dreaming to your music.
I remember crying to songs like 'Maybe Tomorrow', and 'I Don't Know Why I Love You' in my room.
I remember the cartoon, the TV specials, singing with Diana Ross and Cher..and so much more.

I remember writing the first piece of fan mail I wrote: 'Dear Michael'.
I remember writing to you often - as if you could hear me.
I remember thinking I was going to grow up and be Mrs. Michael Jackson.

I remember not having enough money for a concert ticket for a Jackson Five concert at The Forum in Inglewood CA.
I remember what it felt like for my family to be going through such a tough time, and how your music and that of other's got me through.

I remember walking the perimeter of the Forum with my Mom in tears, as I could hear the music and screams of the lucky girls inside - as I was panic stricken and pacing from the outside.
I remember begging to get in to no avail to each door attendant,
I remember being desperate enough to lie and say I'd lost my ticket.
I remember my heart that night, I loved Michael Jackson.
I remember how hard my Mom tried to get me close.
I remember sobbing even more and the joy I felt when one of the door attendants finally let my Mom and I go in, as the intro of the last song of the night -'The Love You Save' reverberated nearly drowned out by the volumes of screams from all the kids who felt just like me.

I remember as soon as we got in - the fans rushing the stage and all I had was a brief glimpse, as it seemed the entire arena shifted to the stage.
I remember how soon it was all over. Lights on. Empty stage.

I remember how I continued to love all of the other albums that weren't as popular like 'Skywriter', and 'Moving Violation' as you and your brothers continued to grow up - as I was growing up too.
I remember how I could get completely lost staring at every album cover that had your face on it as a child.

I remember meeting you for the first time, and being in awe of the fate that would make such a thing happen.
I remember you and your younger sister Janet coming to watch Shalamar shows from the side of the stage with Groucho Marx glasses with the fake nose and moustache at Disneyland - peering from the side curtain.
I remember your brothers trying to hook us up, because I put '"Jody Watley Loves Michael Jackson" on the back of Shalamar's 'Three For Love' album, underneath my photo with the caption: "Loves.."
I remember the first time I heard 'Off The Wall', and how much I loved it and still do.
I remember...

I remember being in the audience with my friend Jermaine Stewart at the Motown 25th..
I remember feeling the electricity that night, and your words "I like the old songs..but I like the new ones better" before you went into Billie Jean.
I remember how you changed the game of music.
I remember how you changed music video.
I remember where I was when I first saw the mini movie 'Thriller'.
I remember how everyone anticipated your world premiere videos on MTV.
I remember all of your iconic performances on The Grammy's and American Music Awards, and so much more.
I remember being nominated in categories with you and knowing I didn't stand a chance.

I remember that you are the first person who greeted me after I won my own Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1988 and smile to this day because as joyous and in shock as I was...

I remember that you emerged from the darkness of back stage at Radio City Music Hall ran to me, gave me a big hug, kissed my right cheek and said in your Michael Jackson voice "I'm so happy for you"
I remember thinking how I would have never imagined that moment with someone who had such a huge impact on my life.
I remember thinking you were magical and..

I remember thinking 'I was just kissed by MICHAEL JACKSON and how it nearly eclipsed even winning the award.

I remember how obsessed my daughter and her friends were when they were old enough to discover your music, and how many times we tried to do the choreography to Thriller, and Beat It.
I remember our family trip to Disneyland so we could see your Captain EO attraction.
I remember the joy.

I remember that the never to be seen again international success of Thriller seemed to give you so much - but the aftermath of such fame seemed to take even more.

I remember feeling angst at your trials, and saddened by the bubble your unparalled success seemed to create.

I remember thinking how lonely your life must be, and how you tried to fill the voids in ways we can't understand.

I remember that despite your struggles thinking you are one bad ass dude. The greatest of a generation and for all time.

I remember how you have touched the world.

I remember how much I love your music, watching you dance, and listening to your distinctive voice.

I remember the influence of Jackie Wilson, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and James Brown in your work.

I remember the influence of Michael Jackson in others.

I remember these things and so much more..

I remember the shock I felt at hearing the tragic news, and the tears that followed.

I remember thinking a piece of my own childhood went with you.

I will always remember the time I had with you.

May your deepest sadness be healed. May your soul now rest peace.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Performance Rights Act - Part Two. Fact Sheet.

Something to think about:

From :

Consider this. When you hear John Coltrane's recording of 'My Favorite Things' on the radio in the US, the estates of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein - the composers of 'My Favorite Things' - are compensated through ASCAP. But the estate of John Coltrane receives nothing for this performance.
However, if you hear the same performance on XM or Sirius, or via a webcast, or on a cable music station - even on that terrestrial radio station's webcast - both Rodgers and Hammerstein's estates AND John Coltrane's estate are compensated.
Why the difference? US terrestrial broadcasters are exempt from paying a public performance right for sound recordings.

Royalties for Songwriters and Composers in US
Royalties are generated when a copyrighted song is performed publicly - whether on a radio station, at a sports event, or on a jukebox. In the US, these royalties are collected by ASCAP, BMI and SESAC and distributed to the member songwriters and publishers. As an indication of the significance of this revenue stream, ASCAP reported distributing over $680 million to its members in 2006..

No Royalties to Performers for Terrestrial Radio Play
Although royalties are distributed to songwriters and publishers for public performances for terrestrial radio play, this right does not extend to the performers or the sound recording copyright owner (usually the record label). So, when you hear Patsy Cline singing "Crazy" on the radio, songwriter Willie Nelson and his publisher are compensated through BMI, but the estate of Patsy Cline receives no pay for the performance. Neither do the studio musicians, backing vocalists, or the record label.
This arrangement is the result of a long-standing argument made by terrestrial broadcasters that performers and labels benefit from the free promotion received through radio play. Broadcasters contend that airplay increases album sales, which leads to compensation for performers and record labels. As a result, broadcasters have, for decades, convinced Congress that they should be exempt from paying the public performance royalty for sound recordings. But the broadcasters' argument is steadily losing relevance, and their exempt status becomes more questionable when compared to other countries' broad requirements for performance royalties.

Exemption in US Leaves Artists' Money on the Table
The US is one of the few industrialized countries - if not the only one - that does not have a terrestrial broadcast performance right for sound recordings. At least 75 nations, including most European Union member states, do have a performance right. This means that foreign broadcasters flow royalties to songwriters/composers and performers. But since there is no reciprocal right in the US, foreign performance rights societies cannot distribute these royalties to American performers. This leaves tens of millions of dollars of royalties on the table annually rather than in the pockets of American artists.

Digital Performances Mean Broader Compensation
Terrestrial radio's unfair exemption is even more obvious when viewed alongside new media platforms. Broadcasters of digital performances - webcasters, satellite radio, cable subscriber channels - obtain licenses from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC which compensate the songwriters and publishers of the music they play. But because of the Digital Performance in Sound Recording Act of 1995 (DPRA), they also pay royalties to the performers. SoundExchange - the performance rights organization established by the DPRA - distributes the royalty payments directly to performers (45%) and to the sound recording copyright owner, which is usually the record label (50%). Non-featured performers receive 5% of the royalties, via a royalty pool managed by AFM and AFTRA. This means that terrestrial radio is the only medium that broadcasts music but does not compensate artists or labels for the performance.

Time for Harmonization
There are two clear reasons why it's important for artists and advocates to support the expansion of the public performance royalty. First, as the consumption of music moves further away from the purchase of CDs and towards "listens" via digital streaming, satellite radio and webcasting, the likelihood of performers being compensated based on traditional/retail sales continues to decline, while revenue from performances continues to increase. Second, the US exemption penalizes US stakeholders in the international arena and results in losses of as much as $100 million annually for US musicians and labels. This also hurts the US economy and limits our ability to exploit one of our few industries that has a positive balance of trade. As the music marketplace goes global, the need for a broad-based performance royalty is more important than ever.

Legislative Action in 110th Congress
Recording artist groups including FMC, AFTRA, AFM, Recording Artists' Coalition and the Recording Academy have continuously advocated for the public performance royalty for sound recordings. In 2007, the campaign ramped up considerably with the creation of the MusicFIRST Coalition, as well as repeated congressional attention on digital music services, webcasting rates, radio, media ownership and copyright. In December 2007, Rep. Berman and Sen. Leahy introduced HR 4789/S 2500, the Performance Rights Act, which would remove the performance royalty exemption for terrestrial broadcasters.
FMC urges Congress to update the Copyright Act to extend the public performance right for sound recordings to terrestrial and HD radio. Unless Congress acts, incumbent broadcasters will continue to exploit their exempt status that sets them apart from other media providers

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Performance Rights Act Part One.

I can't say that the current state of terrestrial commercial radio leaves me with any level of enthusiasm. I often hear: "Girl I miss hearing your music? We miss good music. I stopped listening to radio", and so on. Of course there are countless artists who have been forced off the mainstream radar. It's a steep mountain.

It's not that the music variety is gone or that certain artists (especially those of us over 30 or 40's even) aren't making good music. We're here, it's radio which has abandoned us - quality music, balance and diversity in programming.

We've all seen the decline year by year. Hip-Hop and gangsta rap dominated and while delighting millions, also alienated millions - never to return. These days, it's common to hear the complaints of the 'adult' listener, who have been abandoned by the system. Apparently, they think the 'adult' listener should be relegated to either oldies or 'smooth' jazz. We can't handle anything progressive, diverse or appreciate quality lyrics judging by what's in heavy rotation.

Business reports constantly signal sagging ratings. People are continuing to tune out. We have options and iPods. We have the internet, online streaming, satellite radio, and so on. You can go directly to artist websites and social networks to hear music now.

With the deregulation of radio in the late 80's courtesy of the Reagan Administration, the downturn has been slow and steady. Privately owned stations were bought by corporations, who could now own unlimited stations and control the content. The Clear Channel Era was born. Local flavor began to disappear, as fast as the Mom and Pop family stations were bought out. In recent years syndicated radio has continued the dilution of local flavor. Advertising became the name of the game - generating millions of dollars. Pay For Play, legal payola, shrinking playlists, etc. Remember this when you ask an artist why their music is no longer on the radio, it's not up to us. If you are an independent the window shrinks a bit more.
Conglomorates like Clear Channel also own billboard, concert venues, etc. What we now have are a monopoly of radio, TV and "news" run by a few giant entities.

I can remember how special it was to travel from coast to coast, north and south - and hear something new and unique to the region. There was a time when there were truly black owned stations. Systems were manual, not automated. Disc jockeys could play what they wanted, even if that meant album cuts, double plays or as was the case when I first heard Stevie Wonders 'Songs In The Key of Life' - the entire album. I can remember being transfixed by the music I heard and couldn't wait to run and buy it.
The days when music represented value, and the though of trying to get something so special for 'free' didn't exist. I can remember when news was news and not gossip or entertainment being promoted as such.

Syndicated radio continues to put people out of work in local cities, just flip a nationwide switch and then voila - radio for the masses. There was a time when artists, if if they weren't in rotation on any given station, at least had a shot to go in to your local privately owned radio station to get some interview airtime to promote your music, concert, or charity event. Now they want to know how many ad dollars will you be generating to the station.
Local disc jockeys don't stand a chance. This syndicated practice would seem less healthy for the future growth of radio, but that's another subject.

Currently, the controversial Performance Rights Act is making it's rounds through Congress. The timing couldn't be worse for terrestrial radio and artists to a degree. Businesses are grasping at straws, and fighting the changing times. Old rules just can't apply now. Major corporations are closing down, filing for bankruptcy or tring to restructure franticly - because they waited too long to adapt to shifting paradigms.

This bill isn't about putting stations out of business, it's not a black issue, it's not a greed issue. The bill impacts all artists from popular, R&B, jazz artists, classical and so on. In Europe they have been paying artists for years through sources like PRS (Perfoming Rights Society).

Radio = advertising revenue. On air personalities promoting themselves and their events, books, causes, websites, replace music more and more it seems. As it is radio is becoming less a vehicle for promotion for the vast majority of artists using the old model.

New media has caused a call to action for revision and further compensation for those who work in the film industry, which has seen a similar fight. We aren't talking about the mega superstars here - we are talking the majority of people who are simply working in the arts to make a living, because it is their passion.

Some say if this bill is passed it will be the end of terrestrial/commercial radio as we know it. Is that good or bad? It hasn't been the radio I know in over a decade. Has it to you?

From my point of view fear based tactics always seem extreme. When a similar bill passed for web radio, it was said that it would force small online broadcasters off the air - it didn't happen. Some are saying that if this bill passes there will be more talk radio, less music because radio will just choose to stop playing music because of the cost. It even costs to get a pillow on an airline now - times change.

What is clear is that as the music and radio industry plods along, everyone will have to make new adjustments and settle for smaller pieces of a once rather large pie.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Notes. Life's Barriers

We all experience barriers and doubts, as well as insecurity at some time or another. We all encounter people who sit on the sidelines of our lives trying to break our spirit or seek to control us by words, deeds and actions. These abusive actions can be physical, verbal or emotional or all of them. I have experienced them all, and have chosen to learn something more about who I am, so as to not repeat the same mistakes. Get to know yourself, moving to inner peace even while facing life's storms is key from my view. People come in and out of our lives for different reasons - and not everyone is intended to take the entire journey with you or vice versa.

It's up to us how we use this 'energy'. In doing interviews this morning and yesterday I had quite engaging conversations. All of the women journalists and I shared these common themes in life. We discussed getting through these feelings and circumstances and staying motivated.

Shortly after, I read remarks given by First Lady Michelle Obama to a college bound set of charter school students today in Washington, D.C. . She seemed to echo the same thoughts. Her words were empowering as she spoke of so many examples where people had exceeded even their own expectations.

As a woman, I can speak from that perspective with experience, because as a woman I am aware of the unique challenges we have to navigate be it personally or professionally.

Own who you are and don't be discouraged. Don't let others break you down. Use the anxiety or doubt to help maximize your potential, rather than letting it rob you of moving forward in a positive way.

"You have nothing to fear, but fear itself" and remember that you are the first 'YOU' there is! Own it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Senseless Acts of Violence and Ms. B

I came home from taking my son to school this morning, and after crying my eyes out and collecting my thoughts, it seemed the best way to handle this is to write about it.

There are certain people you meet, in passing that simply radiate light. Beatrice Davis is one such person.

She is one of the crossing guards I have seen in passing for years. I smile and say 'Hi Ms. B.", every time I see her, and she waves and smiles back 'Hey baby!" I first met her at my son's elementary/middle school, which I pass now on the way to his high school. Ms. B gave a lot of the kids small teddy bears when they graduated from middle school to wish them well. My son was one of them.  He would always talk about Ms. B, and say how nice she was. All of the kids love Ms. B. 

On any given day when she is there and after she has helped them cross the street safely, you can see kids and parents giving her a hug or friendly wave. She is the only crossing guard people react to in this way. Ms. B will tell you that after being there for 30 years, she has seen the little ones grow up in front of her eyes.  She has told me, the children grow up and come back to me and say, "Do you remember me? I'm married with kids now!" She is truly unforgettable.

Older, black, lovable and always greeting everyone with a smile. Parents, just like me, roll their windows down to say "Hi Ms. B". She's always reminded me of the Esther Rolle character on the 70's hit series 'Good Times'. Ms. B is the type of woman that by her presence, just makes you feel good inside. She is a reminder of the type of humanity that we all hope still exists; an old fashioned, good spirited love for thy neighbor type of person.

I pulled over to talk to her this morning, because I hadn't seen her for a while. As it turns out, she had taken some time off from work because her only son had been murdered. 

My heart dropped. She explained that it had been one of those senseless acts of violence. A gunman ran into the store aiming for his target, who had just walked into the store. Ms. B's son, who was there in the store waiting to pay for his juice, stepped to shield the lady standing in line before him as the bullets were flying. The lady survived. This was the man Ms. B raised, always looking out for other people. He saved a strangers life.

Ms. B said she figures God was ready for her son to be in heaven.  She went on to say that he was such a wonderful young man, working and in college. He'd never been in trouble, never involved with any bad people, always had a smile. As I stood there, mother to mother - my heart just ached. "My heart has a hole that will never be filled, he was my only son" she said.

Ms B. expressed this without the slightest hint of bitterness. There are people we encounter who gripe and complain over trivial matters. They could learn a lot from Ms. B.

Having one son myself, and with an undeniable sense of worry that all mothers of young black males feel, standing there speaking with Ms. B, and hugging her, I walked away feeling quite small. I don't want this violence to exist. These senseless acts of violence more often than not come upon young black men. Sure, people of all ethnicities are victims of violence everyday, but black on black crime, with young black males is all too common.

The people who commit these acts have no regard for human life, and if I had a magic wand, it's something I would erase. Perhaps it sounds simplistic to say such a thing, but it's how I feel right now. No parent should face this.

I just couldn't believe hearing that this nightmare could befall such a wonderful woman like Ms. B. She's the type of woman that should win the lottery and be set for life, or win an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii, or receive a makeover, a trip to a luxury spa resort or any number of good things, not this.

Her son John was buried, and leaves behind a 3 year old son. Ms. B. says he looks just like his father, and now says 'Daddy has gone to heaven to protect me". My heart sank further. 

Ms. B was still radiating light this morning, in this dark time. She expressed experiencing good and bad days, and feeling she had to forgive the person who murdered her son - not wanting to let her pain and anger become a cancer. She's thinking now of how she and her husband can help their grandson.

The police worked diligently and have the murderer in custody, but as she says it won't bring her son back.

I want to do something for Ms.B. but I feel ill equipped. It's incredibly sad that a woman who gives so much love and good energy has had this happen. I know bad things happen to good people, and it's not for us to understand why, but I still wonder: Why?

If you would like to help me help Ms. B in some way, let me know.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Protecting Our Children.

I watched a powerful Oprah show dealing with child predators and how we can better protect our children and teens. I wanted to share the links with you to get you involved. You can make a difference in less than 10 minutes. Please click the link in the header, read the stories, get involved: Support the funding of Alicia's Law, and The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Conversations With: Tyrone 'The Bone' Procter on Soul Train, Dancing, 'Still a Thrill' Video and Music - Conclusion

Part Three. The Conclusion.

JW: You were also fabulous to watch doing 'The Hustle' or 'Swing' with Sherri Green. You were both all legs and pencil thin, which added to the great lines. Do you ever watch any of the dancing shows - 'Dancing With The Stars' - 'America's Next Best Dance Crew', 'So You Think You Can Dance?', etc?

T: Sometimes I watch Dancing with the Stars.

JW: How and when did you start teaching? I know you'd done choreography with New Kids On The Block and many others as well.

T: It all started with you. Doing the 'Still a Thrill' video opened up a whole lotta doors for me. Thanks you Jody for taking the chance on me.
JW: I am humbled. Thank YOU! I feel like we meet people in our lives for various reasons. Often, we come together to discover a deeper clarity for who we are, what we can be, etc. I remain happy that I was able to connect with you again, and to show people how great you were, and still are! Historically, the wrong people get credit for their influence or impact. Through the years, people forget the origin on things too. That's why this conversation is so important for me to post.
Not to mention, to this day, you are someone I am still quite fond of :)

JW: The last time I was in Japan, you had an entire fan club at one of my shows! Tell me about the Japanese kids that come to your classes? I find that once that study something - they really master it: the whole vibe top to bottom.
T: The Dance community in Japan is real tight they look are so together. I judged a Waacking contest with Cleveland Moses and there were 147 contestants in the contest.
JW: I wish I could have seen that!

JW: I have to digress - when did you get rid of the signature moustache?! I read a comment of a clip at youtube - and they said 'I don't know who this gentleman is - but Tyrone Procter has a moustache!" I laughed because I guess the person who wrote it didn't take into account that people change their looks all the time. For me - you look the same - just without the moustache!
T: After doing The New Kids On The Block Video I cut my hair and shaved my moustache off.
JW: Where did 'The Bone' come from as a moniker - it's very intriguing, if it's not PG - don't reply! :)
T: My nickname "The Bone" came from Don himself, it was because I was so small he'd call me "The Bone"
JW: You're kidding?! Wow. I would have never guessed that one!

JW: Do you encounter people often who may be in a time warp - as if we are all still frozen in the 70's?
T: Sometime, not often though. I'm amazed they still remember.

JW: Who was your influence (s) coming up as a dancer? And what made you gravitate to Soul Train? People don't know it was all for free - for a tiny box of cold KFC chicken and a cold soda!

T: My influences were Pasty, Jackie, Jimmy Howard my cousin's and My brother James Proctor, all my dancing friends in Philly and The Soul Train Gang.

JW: What young singer on the scene these days do you think could benefit most from your teachings or just watching you ?

T: hmmmmmm?

JW: Do you feel only certain types of personalities can really pull off certain moves? Actually - I guess is the question should be; don't you think there is a difference in learning a move or routine - and really 'living' in that moment/movement, or can both be the same? Not everyone does choreography well either.

T: That's what I'm teaching now the difference between dancing 'in' the music oppose to Dancing 'on it'.
JW: I love that - that's it !! Dancing 'in' the music - that's what I meant by living in it. There's a huge difference. I think when you're 'in' the music it's about the passion for the music and your body feels that and responds to the nuances in the music as a result.

JW: That's it! Soooooooo true.

JW: Best song to hit those beats - when teaching? I have a dance classics list that I like to power walk or dance to - and I can never retain myself when Cerrone's 'Love in C Minor' full version comes on - my arms and head just start moving to those strings! I can visualize the kids hitting the floor in poses - literally, to this day. Brass Construction 'Movin' Salsoul Orchestra 'Magic Bird of Fire' Kraftwerk 'Computer Love' - I could go on. Give me your Top Five. It was so much fun and so fabulous. The TSOP theme is also still great - I get chills everytime still, it's another on my all time dance classic playlist for my iPod. Days gone by; easily recalled with the push of the 'play' button.

T: It's hard to name them all, but I'll give you a couple:
You plus Me/Undisputed Truth
Let's Start The Dance/Bohannon
Beyonds the Clouds/Quartz
Star Love/Cherly Lynn
Deputy of Love/Fonda Rae
Think it Over/Thelma Huston
Forever Came Today/The Jackson Five
JW: Yes. Yes! One of my favorite Jackson's songs - a lot of people don't know that's from the 'Moving Violation' album when their popularity was shifting for a bit, as they were growing past the 'bubblegum' phase. OMG. Love this! Those stringsssssssss!
Express Yourself/New York Community Choir.
..and many more!
JW: OMG - 'Express Yourself' by the New York Community Choir - Rahsaan Patterson and I were just talking it that song at dinner with our friend Paul Moschell!!! That's the jam...toward the end, when that groove just let's loose. I easily recall, you have to be careful not to dance too closely to anyone - because you could easily get hit across the face or head accidentally with someone's arms as they tried to hit those beats. There would be no fights or violence - you'd just laugh and move out of the way!! Great List!

JW: Will I ever be able to get you onstage with me somewhere in concert for 'Still a Thrill'? New York, Tokyo, Paris?! The audience would go up I'm sure! Cleveland Moses just wore it out onstage on my last trip to Osaka (and shocked me that he came, it's been so long)!
T: YES,YES,YES, All you got to do is give me the time and place and I'm there.

JW: What's next for Tyrone' The Bone' Procter, and where can people find out when and where you are teaching next and where can we see 'The Imperial House of Waacking'? 'The Mother of The House' may need a refresher course - lol.

T: Everyone can get me on "tyronetheboneproctor@myspace,com" aka
All I'm doing now is teaching this wonderful dance form call Waacking.

T: May Everyone have a Great New Year.

JW: Thank you Tyrone!! WORK!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Conversations With: Tyrone 'The Bone' Procter on Soul Train, Dancing, 'Still a Thrill' Video and Music - Part Two

JW: A lot of people remember that you and Sharon jumped ship for American Bandstand for the big time dance contest - where you all eventually won two cars. I always wondered did you get any flack from Don Cornelius?
T: Not at all, in fact Don gave me the money to pay the taxes for the car so I could get it.
JW: Wow. That surprises me :)
JW: Do you remember the dance contest in San Diego, where you inadvertently knocked Sharon's ponytail piece off? It is such a priceless moment. I remember laughing so hard, you just kicked it clear across the dance floor without missing a beat, and kept going. She was smiling the whole time, but I know she wanted to probably slap you!
T: I forgot all about that!!! (hahahaha)
JW: What was your impression of me back then?! Be kind - lol!
T: You were a very determined young Lady who really loved to dance, and wore it out, that why all the others wanted to do what you did remember your 'Fan'. I do.
JW: I still work the fan onstage :) When I go to Japan, I am given them as as gifts, and many designers surprisingly make them, my favorite is an Ana Sui one. I always have one with me - they also come in handy while flying or on a hot day!
JW: Videos with dancing generally involve choreography. Soul Train in the mid and late 70's was all about seizing the moment with freestyling, (as discussed in the article on The Waack Dancers in Ebony back then); with freestyling we'd come up with things on the spot, changing moves up constantly it up, you had to be on your toes, sharp and in tune with the music, etc... I still have a lot of that spirit. 'Still a Thrill' video was all freestyle of course, which will surprise people I'm sure. I'm too impatient to learn it - I always want to be free to 'live' in the music! That said, I love watching good choreography - or 'ography' - as we say.

JW: One of my favorite parts is where you are 'waacking' near the end of the video, and you do a movement with your arms swirling; and then the video turns to color. I love the entire video though - me in the window and you down below - just going off with the movement. You never did the same thing twice with each take. We just came up with stuff at each spot. The director Brian Grant must have had a time with the edit!
JW: What are your memories of the video then - and what do you think when you look at it now, other than your 20" inch waist?!

T: My memories of the Still A Thrill Video was watching you twirl on the floor working your skirt to beats on the floor.
JW: LOL. I learned from the best!
JW: Explain 'Waacking' and distinguish against 'Vogueing'. What are the origins?
T: The differences between Waacking and Vogueing is that Waacking was done to Disco music which had a fast beat and the D.J. spead it up even more. and Vogueing is being done to House music which has a slower beat and with Waacking you have to be on all the beats and with vogueing that not always the case.
JW: Yes, waacking is being on the beat, driven by the music. 'Living' in it!
I must say when I saw the VOGUE video from Madonna, I was like you betta work Madge!! - but it should be me! LOL. I thought, man, I should have thought to write a song about the dance! I had some kids in the 'Friends' video vogueing - before VOGU which gave the dance a commercial name.
JW: I used to love the dance contests that we went to at places like Gino's, Catch One (Snatch Nothing!), Mavericks Flat - even the Hollywood Palladium. There was such freedom. Some kids were 'locking', some 'waacking', some just going for it.
JW: Since you interact a lot of kids now teaching, what do you see?
T: I see the young dancers want to know the history of the dances and what the dances were called.
more to follow....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Conversations With: Tyrone 'The Bone' Procter on Soul Train, Dancing, 'Still a Thrill' Video and Music - Part One

Tyrone 'The Bone' Procter is one of the most popular Soul Train Dancers of all time for those who really know the history of the show as a part of the original Soul Train Gang.

My respect and admiration for Tyrone goes back decades, and compelled me to insist he appear in my 'Still a Thrill' video; which remains a black and white video classic, according to many fans. We flew to Paris and 'worked it out' as we say; on the streets of Paris, and inside the Paris Opera House. It can't get any 'grander' than that! No one had ever been allowed to film there.

Wanda Fuller, Eddie Champion, Pat Davis, Fawn Quinones, Damita Jo Freeman, Lil' Joe Chisholm, and James Phillips were IT! Their pictures were on my wall. My friends and I would wonder what would they be wearing, what dances would we see?! Fate intervened and my family would end up in LA - and I would subsequently not only meet one of my dance idols, but become friends and dance colleagues.

Tyrone was such a character to me in my teen developmental years. I have so many fond memories, that can make me laugh to this day. A lot of my 'attitude' - and of course 'waacking' I learned from watching Tyrone. Whenever you heard him holler 'You Betta Work Miss Thing' - you knew you were really doing something special. He made me want to go full out.

'Waacking' is having a resurgence. Kids around the world want to learn it, and Tyrone has been teaching, and educating the kids on what it means to be truly fierce on the dance floor. For me, 'waack dancing' is all about movement, hitting the accents of the music, the subtle beats for added drama. It's arms, legs and attitude galore, and being in 'the moment' with the music.

In my second 'Conversations With..' I have the honor of talking to the recently ordained 'Imperial Father' of Waacking - Tyrone 'The Bone' Procter. This is the first of 4 parts of the interview.

Congratulations Tyrone!
JW:Tell me aboust being named 'Father of The Imperial House of Waacking"
T: The Imperial House of Waacking is a Dance Company. I've tried to get some of the best young dancers i could get my hands on our motto is:
"CAN'T is not an option and your BEST simply not good enough"
The Imperial House of Waacking : A House is part of a competition call a "Ball" that they do in the Gay community. Each House has a Mother and a Father
In The Imperial House Of Waacking The Mother is Jody Watley and The Father is Tyrone "The Bone" Proctor. The kids Like that Because of the 'Still A Thrill' Video.
JW: My Gosh! I'm "Mother of The House" - I love it!! Thank You. Tell the kids in the house - I really appreciate.
JW: Of course, I have to get some Soul Train questions out of the way!
What does the cultural phenomenon of Soul Train mean to you?
T: It's a honor being part of Black American History
JW: Do you think Soul Train would be hot topic for gossip - if the show as it was in the mid to late 70's? I mean the whole sub culture, the fights, backstabbing, and of course the whole never spoken of LGBT of a many of the dancers?
T: Of course, even more so with the internet and cell phones.
JW: Were you bothered at all when Don had the Soul Train special many years ago, and didn't have one ounce of footage or recognition for the influential dancers from the show like you, Sharon, Pat Davis and so many others from the most influential era of the show?
It was such a slap in the face to me, they only showed the later years - and we know those aren't the shows that are shown all over Asia and Europe, with all due respect to the kids from those years. Soul Train, (the early years) is legendary for all time.
T: I was stunned, People were asking me why Don did not use any of the Original Soul Train Gang. (what could I say)
JW: Do you have a fondest memory of that era? I have so many. One of which involves you pushing the coffee table back in my living room on Coco Ave. performing 'Runaway Love' by Linda Clifford to everyone - each time you came over- lol! Dancing on the tables and hitting beats on the staircase at Mavericks Flat - my goodness, fun times!!!
David Bowie, Elton John on the show (though I was kicked out of those tapings!).
The classic show with Marvin Gaye was before my time...
T. Wow, so many things like Sharon Hill, My green Mazda, Choicette, 4040 Coco, Catch One, Roger Boone, Stereo World, Maverick Flats,
The Outrageous Waack Dancers, Jeffrey Daniel, Chuck Johnson, Lamont, Micky, Blinky, Andrew, Arthur, Tinker, Lonnie, Michaelo, Danny and so many more.
JW: I know you still keep in touch with Sharon Hill. She was such a sweetheart, and I remember she would always scold you, when you got too animated - lol. What's Sharon up to?
T: Sharon Hill is doing very well, She married the lead singer of Lakeside Mark Wood (It's All The Way Live)
They have 4 beautiful children Marshani, Mark, Mellissa, and Matthew my nieces and nephews.