These six words, when spoken in sequence, often bring a look recognizance to those that hear them. For me, the phrase brings a smile to my face, as I eagerly anticipate the melody that typically ensues. In my humble opinion, these words form a proper intro for the “cover” of a Stevie Wonder classic, Superwoman. Truth be told, I’ve always liked this version better. And we all know there aren’t many artists that can do a remake better than the original–let alone make me say something as close to blasphemy as this. Sorry Stevie…no offense.
By now music lovers, surely you must know that I’m speaking of no one other than the magnificent Mr. Donny Hathaway. In his short time with us, he blessed the world with a chest full of treasured melodies that live on in the hearts of his soul music fan-mily.
Just 48 short hours ago, I had the good fortune of witnessing THE greatest Donny Hathaway tribute concert known to man. Let me paint the scene for you. Picture this…
It was a sticky, steamy, summery August night in the A. The event was held at 595 North which is just over the bridge from Atlanta’s infamous Peachtree Street. It was hosted by the Spreadlove crew and emceed by WCLK’s Jamal Ahmad. As I approached, I noticed the line cueing in front of an unassuming, no-named, brick building. And it was then…that I knew, we all needed to buckle up and prepare to enjoy the ride!
Once inside and to my delight, I found DJ Kemit–my favorite, spinning on the one and twos. He was tasked with priming the crowd with a mixture of oldies but goodies–sure to get us into the right head-space for the journey we were about to take.
And as the clock struck half past 9–it all began. The family slowly trickled into the dining room and took its seats at the table, as local artist, Terrance Downs rang the bell—summoning us all to dinner. Then, in walks Carmen Rodgers, preparing and serving the appetizer. And right before the main course, Avery Sunshine, blessed us and the “meal” with her rendition of Donny’s “You Got a Friend.”
And with that…dinner was served, as the incomparable Frank McComb took center stage. (Pass the peas, like we used to do…”)
Mr. McComb made sure we cleaned our plates and begged for seconds, as he reminded us that “Someday We’ll All Be Free,” even if we at some point found ourselves living in the “Ghetto.” He reassured us that “Everything is Everything” and then paried off with India…(Arie that is) while indulging in the sweetest of desserts…a soulful, sensual version of “Where is the love” followed by a taste of “You Are My Heaven” with Carmen.
And as he sat at his shiny cherry-red Korg , he served us after-dinner cordials and coffee, while offering up a lovely instrumental…”Valdez in the Country.” Sweet memories of Donny filled us as we lingered around the table.
All in all, the atmosphere was unlike any other…electrifying and warm. Sincere and reminiscent of days gone by. Full of adoration and appreciation for the lyrical mastery and prowess that belonged to Sir Hathaway.
I will remember the night of August 19th for many years to come. It was one for the record books. I was moved and inspired to do and accomplish more. To be my best. Dared to try things I’ve only ever dreamed of . (this creation of this blog tops the list.) I was compelled to dig even deeper into self, as well as Donny’s repitoire.
By far it was one of my most favorite “Atlanta moments” on record. And although it was standing room only, it was ok. That night …we were all family–simply gathered and united as lovers of Donny’s body of work. Bonded by his lyrics. And even blessed by the presence of his youngest daughter, Danita. We’ve been forever touched by the sincerity and fullness of his voice. We are reminded that each of us must continue our quest to love one another “in a place where there’s no space or time.”
May God’s grace, peace and mercy be unto you all.
Until the next time…