It has been said time and time again that music is food for the soul.
Anyone, anywhere can attest to a moment where a specific song has changed their entire demeanor within a matter of seconds. Memories are made in instances when you are engaged in anything from a breakup to a personal triumph or a traumatic life experience, and whatever was playing on the radio or television or iPod drives you to burst into either song or tears. Years later, when you hear that song, it transports you back to that time and — for better or worse — show you how far you’ve come.
For me, and I’m sure many others, music has been my escape into other worlds and minds. When I listen to Jazz, I’m in a blue-lit room swaying with people who are so immersed in the sound that they don’t utter a word. When I listen to my Buena Vista Social Club album, my hips and legs have a mind of their own and I think to myself how much more I’d enjoy the songs if I comprehended more Spanish. When I listen to Talib Kweli and Mos Def, I want to join a revolution or go back to school cause their poetry is just brilliant. Listening to Prodigy amps me up to clean things with purpose. Listening to Adele makes me cry and wonder how someone so young managed to put all my pain and heartache from past relationships into the perfect songs and realize that I’m not the only one who experienced it. Reggae and Soca sometimes makes me feel I could be dangerously prone to promiscuous behavior, but it’s all good fun.
You get the idea… I’m a musical schizophrenic.
For some time now, I’ve been embracing more artists that aren’t as commercially mainstream as the Beyonces and Katy Perrys of the world. Not to take away from their well-earned success and exposure, but the amount of both undiscovered talent and dues paying veterans out there are overwhelming.
Last night, I went with one of my “super music-afficionado girlfriends” to see N’Dambi at the BAM Cafe. I’d heard of her some years back and was especially fascinated by her look; she emerged on the music scene around the era of Angie Stone and Erykah Badu — singing backup for the latter — and had their natural “soul sista” style, with a badass afro that channeled Pam Grier. Although she’s since eschewed that look for a funky two-toned fauxhawk that she sways and rocks from side to side, Miss Thing commanded the stage in that intimate cafe setting as if she were performing at the Highline or Roseland Ballrooms. For a minute I thought I was watching a young Tina Turner as she jumped, shimmied and squatted in what looked to be 5-inch heels, all while maintaining her smile and especially her vocals. My friend and I were so blown away, we ran straight to the table after the performance to buy her CD and personally meet and profess our awe, and then rushed back to her apartment to listen to the incredible set finale “Can’t Hardly Wait“, the unofficial anthem for women whose love for a man keeps her in a relationship longer than she knows she should be in it.
Last night’s performance capped off a week of amazing talent. This past Sunday, I went to The Village Underground’s open mic night with another SMAG to catch the abundance of talent that braved the stage to perform amongst strangers. That night, one singer performed a gospel song so powerful that it sent shivers through my body and brought me to tears. Apparently, it also brought her to tears, because she burst into them directly after her performance.
In a time where MTV and VH1 have replaced music with reality train wrecks, and the radio only plays the same regurgitated pop “hits”, it’s refreshing to be not only in the presence of true musicians but fellow lovers of real music that doesn’t come in a can or hyper-sexualized industry products.
For those of you who haven’t experienced BAM Cafe on a Friday or Saturday night, or Village Underground on a Sunday — consider your itinerary for the weekend made.