Wednesday, January 30, 2008


This list didn't come easy. I have a ton of "best of" & "greatest hits" cds from a variety of musical genres. In order to simplify the task, I decided to take my hard-core "jazz" and "blues" collections off the table altogether. So here we go and in no particular order-- a short list of SOME of my favorite "best of" and "greatest hits" music collections.

1) PRINCE (Prince: The Hits/The B-Sides) 4 favorite cuts: Erotic City, Let's Go Crazy, Head & Purple Rain

2) STEELY DAN (The Definitive Collection) 3 favorite cuts: Peg, Deacon Blues & Rikki Don't Lose That Number

3) ARETHA FRANKLIN (Aretha's Best) 5 fav cuts: A Natural Woman, Rock Steady, Call Me, Day Dreaming & I Never Loved A Man

4) MARVIN GAYE (The Best of Marvin Gaye: Vol 2. The '70s) 3 fav cuts: Trouble Man, Come Get To This & Inner City Blues

5) AVERAGE WHITE BAND (Pickin' Up The Pieces: The Best Of Average White Band) 2 fav cuts: School Boy Crush & Cut The Cake

6) LENNY KRAVITZ (Lenny Kravitz Greatest Hits) 2 fav cuts: Again & Heaven Help

7) BOBBY MCFERRIN (The Best of Bobby McFerrin: The Blue Note Years) 2 fav cuts: Freedom Is A Voice & Friends

8) PHYLLIS HYMAN (The Legacy of Phyllis Hyman) 3 fav cuts: Betcha by Golly, Wow, Old Friend & Living All Alone

9) CHIC (The Best of Chic: Dance, Dance, Dance) 3 fav cuts: Good Times, Everybody Dance & I Want Your Love

10) JOHNNIE TAYLOR (Johnnie Taylor: The Twenty Greatest Hits) 3 fav cuts: I Believe In You, Cheaper To Keep Her & We're Getting Careless With Our Love

11) TEENA MARIE (Teena Marie: Greatest Hits) 3 fav cuts: Square Biz, Behind The Groove & Portuguese Love

12) LUTHER VANDROSS (Always & Forever: The Classics) 3 fav cuts: Superstar/Until You Come Back To Me, Anyone Who Had A Heart, & I (Who Have Nothing)

13) THE ISLEY BROTHERS (The Essential Isley Brothers) 5 fav cuts: That Lady, Harvest For The World, Summer Breeze, Fight The Power & The Pride

What are your favorite "best of" and/ or "greatest hits" music collections? Feel free to name them, even if they didn't make my list.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Advance Praise For
AFTER THE DANCE by Lori Johnson
"AFTER THE DANCE is a fast-paced delight with a plotline so intriguing and dialogue and characters so real, I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading fiction. It is an easy read with NO dull moments. I was hooked from the first page to the last. This is a five star new story from a five star new author!"
--Mary Monroe, New York Times bestselling author

"Surprisingly well-written. But I'm not sure if I want my church members reading this."
--Bobbie Mae Johnson, Lori's Mama and Cummings Street Missionary Baptist Church member

Okay, I'm tripping (LOL). Even though both quotes are indeed legit, only the first will appear on the 2nd edition of the book's cover. Anyway, I have a few additional equally nice quotes that I'll save for a later date.

Click on the link below if you'd like to check out the new web site.
If you feel like reading, the site also includes an excerpt of the work. I hope to add an Amazon "buy this book" tag to the site in the coming days.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


No, it won't be long now. Thanks to SheliaRenee of N'Digo Design, my new web site should be up and running sometime within the next few days.

It's been a long journey, to say the least. After the first sistergirl webdesigner happily took all of my info, but failed to deliver or even summon the courtesy to say why she couldn't, I wasn't particularly eager to jump back on board with anyone. I really don't have time to be wasting. No, I'm not hating, just calling 'em like I see 'em. If you want to do business, you really ought to be about business.

Anyway, working with SheliaRenee of N'Digo Design has renewed my faith. She's been personable, patient, prompt and extremely professional. Big ups to E.C. for passing her name along to me.

I prefer keeping things simple, so you won't find a whole lot of bells and whistles or new stuff on the web site, at least not right away. BUT the site will include an excerpt of AFTER THE DANCE. Hopefully, reading it will inspire you to pre-order the book or make plans to snag a copy when it hits the shelves in April.

Also, in a coming post, I hope to share some of the reactions (blurbs & comments) the book has already garnered. So, y'all come back now, ya hear (smile)?!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Pearl Cleage's I Wish I Had A Red Dress
Make no mistake, I was reading this author's work long before she received the Oprah Winfrey stamp of approval and subsequently found herself being catapulted onto an even larger stage and before an even bigger audience.

Yeah, I probably first took note of Pearl Cleage's work via the essays/articles she used to write for Essence Magazine. Years ago, when I worked at the Memphis/Shelby County Public Library, had access to books galore, plus the free time necessary to read them, I devoured a couple of Ms. Cleage's books--Mad At Miles: A Black Woman's Guide To The Truth and Deals With The Devil And Other Reasons To Riot among them. I was drawn to and shared sister Pearl's, down-home, common sense, "Black womanist" perspective and approach to life. Of course, I later read and loved What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day well before Opie's people, the critics and all the other folks in the know "discovered" it.

So, I figured it would be more of the same when I first picked up I Wish I Had A Red Dress, which originally came out in 2001. I'm not exactly sure when I purchased the book , but it was years ago and at a library book sale, if I'm not mistaken. I do recall rushing home with it and diving right in, fully anticipating and expecting the thought-provoking enjoyment her work had brought me on every other occasion.

On that first attempt, I think I might have read all of 3 chapters, a total of 10 pages before I tossed the book, scratched my head and said, "Well, I don't know, Ms. Pearl. I am not feeling this at all. What's up with the Sewing Circle or rather Circus? Isn't that something tired, old ladies do? And, no, you did not start Chapter Two with an, umm, Good Lord, a 'self-pleasuring' sence? What the heck was that all about?!" (LOL)

Ever so often in the years afterward, I'd pluck the book from the shelves, flip through it and put it back. But something about that cover (the one with woman in a swirling red dress) and that title kept calling me back. So near the end of last year, I grabbed the book again and said, "I'll be dag if I don't at least get to Chapter 4." Lo and behold, I don't know what happened, but I couldn't put the durn thing down.

I fell in love with the book, the characters and all of the words of wisdom Ms. Pearl so expertly and strategically scattered throughout the story. After I finished reading, I went back with a pencil and just started underlining passages, among them, the one that's become my own personal mantra, particularly when I start to doubt or question myself, is: "What would a free woman do?" Don't you absolutely, positively love that?!!

Basically, the story centers around a young widowed and lonely social worker, who serves as a guide and a mentor to a group of lost and/or struggling, teenage girls and their babies. When the widow, Joyce Mitchell, is introduced by her best friend, who just so happens to be a minister, to a tall, dark stranger named Nate Anderson, of course sparks start flying all over the place. But before Joyce and Nate can properly hook up and do their own private little thing, they have to help the young ladies of Joyce's 'Sewing Circus' work out their issues with self-esteem, bad baby daddies and the like. At the same time, Joyce also has to work out her own unresolved issues with trust and grief. Some of my favorite characters in the book were "The Smitherman Twins" who reminded me of the loveable, old sisters from "Having Our Say."

Anyway, some of the other passsages I underlined in my copy of I Wish I Had A Red Dress include:

1) ". . . I don't think a group of people can survive if the women don't even have enough sense to raise their children."

2) "I'm a big fan of stating your intentions up front and clearly as possible. Saves a lot of confusion and wasted time later . . ."

3) "I think that for some men, using the word "free" and "woman" so close together seems such an obvious oxymoron that they assume it must be the setup for a funny story."

4) "The advantage of faith in moments of crisis and transition is that when the rest of us find ourselves swimming in guilt, fear, confusion and second-guessing, the true believer simply goes with the flow."

5) "If I could pick, I'd probably choose this one all over again, even though being black and female in a place that doesn't bring a whole lot of love to either group is probably not the most luxe life I could come up with."

6) "Is 'her p*$$y curves to my d!#k' really a compliment? And how can he tell, since it's a known fact that a vagina can snugly accommodate everything from a junior tampon to a baby's head . . ."

7) "Sister believes that the beginning of wisdom is to call all things by their proper names, so she's a fiend for the conscious use of language."

There were others, of course, but seven is always a good place to stop (smile). In any case, I recommend you pick up a copy of the book and see if you aren't moved to underline a few of your own favorite passages.

So again, to those of you who feel like sharing, have you ever had a similar experience with a book? You started out not being able to 'get into it,' but something happened. Time, perhaps? Your own personal growth? Life experiences? And blam! You picked up that very same book, months, even years later and you couldn't put it down? Tell us about it.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I saw this on Black Male Appreciation and thought I'd pass it along. Just Us Books is sponsoring a writing contest "My Most Memorable Moment With My Father" for elementary school students in 1st through 5th grades. The first prize is $250.oo. The second prize is $100.oo. Entries must be postmarked by January 31, 2008.

For more information and full contest details see Just Us Books Contest.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A FEW THINGS THAT KINDA GREW ON ME . . . IN 2007 . . . (Part I: Music)

Don't worry. This isn't a post about weird moles, foot fungus, back fat or anything else that, by all right, ought to run by the nearest family physician or neighborhood pharmacist. No, I'm not talking about that sort of growth.

I'm talking those things that you start out not really feeling, but for some strange reason you keep drifting back to and before you know it, you're straight, cold sprung on, like:

Jill Scott's "The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol.3"

Like a lot of folks, I'd been faithfully awaiting Jilly from Philly's latest release. But when I initially brought home 'The Real Thing" and pop it on, I was like what the . . . ?! First of all, I was not feeling the new 'do or the cd cover photos. On the back she looked like like she'd just finished having a crying/hissy fit and on the front, I couldn't figure out if she was striving to look sultry, constipated or pissed. In any case, I wanted the old Jill back, the one with flaming red 'fro, the 'you ain't even ready for the likes of this' grin, and the slamming, all up in your face lyrics.

So for the first couple of days, the only cut I listened to was the one getting all the radio air play, "Hate On Me." But then one day, I slipped up, left it on and quickly found myself getting all caught up in the intoxicating groove of "Crown Royal." Jill, if you're listening, you really do need to come out with an extended version of that song, girl. You know, something along the lines of Marvin's 30 minute version of "Got To Give It Up?" I swear, I've played "Crown Royal" over so many times, I've nearly worn out the 'previous' button on my Windows Media Player.

Late at night, while I'm pecking away at the keyboard or surfing the net, I like listening to music with my headphones on. So naturally, I started turning to Jill to get my "Crown Royal" and "Hate On Me" fix. But pretty soon, I wasn't just stopping with those two. "My Love" with its telephone conversation opening sounded so much like the real deal, I couldn't help but stop and listen to a vexed and perplexed Jill tell some ole boy:

"Yo, I'm tripping right. I heard you got married. You got married? That don't really make any sense. I mean, its not like I didn't think you were seeing other people or whatever. I mean, I was seeing other people. But you know what this is. You know what it was. I can't say I really understand though." (from Jill Scott's "My Love")

Oh yeah! And then she goes on to put dude in check with a cool and collected that's all right, "cause my love is deeper, tighter, sweeter, higher fly-yer, didn't you know this Didn't you notice?" I guess she told him, huh? (LOL) Anyway, after getting hooked on that cut, I started taking a closer listen to the one after it "Insomnia" which breaks of a bluesy little ditty about a woman who's lying in bed, tossing and turning, watching the clock and waiting for the phone to ring. Yeah, a lot of us have been there, right? Okay, let me stop (smile).

The song that sealed the deal for me, the one that really renewed my faith in Jilly from Philly was the oh so funky, soulful and deeply political, "How It Make You Feel." It took me a couple of listens before I really "got" the message, not only because of the clever way it's posed, but also because I couldn't believe Jill actually owned the audacity to ask: "What if, poof, every Black female in the world disappeared? Tell me, how you'd feel if I was gone?"

For me, as a Black woman, this question is profound on a lot of different emotional levels, in particular given the indifference the media routinely exhibits in the disappearance of Black women. I could go on a tangent, but I instead I'll just say in reponse to Jill's question, a lot folks, including some within our OWN community would really give less than a d@m# if every Black woman (excusing their own mamas, perhaps) suddenly disappeared . . . Sorry, that's just how I feel y'all (smile). Anyway, Jill said it better and against a musical backdrop, no less.

And you know, as far as the "Real Thing" cover photos are concerned, I actually kinda like the ones on the inside of the cd and thought they were much more flattering. But hey, I'm not the one getting paid to make those decisions.

So, have you ever had a similar experience? Any particular cds, albums or musical artist ever grow on you? You started out hating it or them, but then something happened . . . you really started listening and suddenly discovered your were a fan? Do tell.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


It's been a while since I posted about one of my favorite subjects--music. So let me take a moment to rectify that situation (smile). While visiting with the kinfolks in Memphis over the holidays, I heard a lot of that NEYO & JENNIFER HUDSON jam on the radio, "Leaving Tonight." There's not a whole lot coming out these days that really grabs my attention. But "Leaving Tonight is one of those songs I actually stopped and listened to the first time I heard it. Nothing tickles my fancy like a nice duet.

The following are some of my other favorite "old school" duets and I bet you'll find quite a few surprises on the list. Let me know if we share any favorites or if there is a song (or songs) on my list that grate (s) on your last nerve (smile).

1) Don't Look Any Further (Dennis Edwards & Siedah Garrett)

2) Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This (Will Downing & Rachelle Ferrell)

3) If This World Were Mine (Luther Vandross & Cheryl Lynn)

4) Love Has Finally Come At Last (Patti Labelle & Bobby Womack)

5) Tramp (Carla Thomas & Otis Redding)

6) With You I'm Born Again (Billy Preston & Syreeta Wright)

7) Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)

8) Your Smile (Rene & Angela)

9) You're All I Need (Mary J. Blige & Method Man)

10) There's Nothing Better Than Love (Luther Vandross & Gregory Hines)

11) The Closer I Get To You (Donnie Hathaway & Roberta Flack)

12) Where Is The Love? (Donnie Hathaway & Roberta Flack)

13) Love Makes Things Happen (Baby Face & Pebbles)

14) Loving You (Nancy Wilson & Peabo Bryson)

15) Spirit In The Dark (Aretha Franklin & Ray Charles)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


1) BOOTLEG DVDS (As an artist, this pratice truly offends me. I don't buy, watch or listen to bootleg products when I can help it. Now, if Shay-Shay and 'Nem have got it running on full blast down at the hair salon, there's not much I can do about it. But I'm not trying to cut into another artist's profits when and if I can help it.)

2) IGNORANT A$$ MOVIES (particularly those aimed at the African American audience. If these went straight to bootleg, I'd be more than happy.)

3) BRITNEY SPEARS' BARE COOCHIE AND/OR NAKED A$$ (Apparently, "Oops, I did it again" as in left the durn house without undies, is this poor child's freaking theme song. I can only hope she got a year's supply of clean drawers for Christmas.)

4) SYMBOLS OF RACIAL HATRED (All y'all out there tying nooses, putting on blackface, dressing up like stereotypes and calling it big fun need to grow the hell up and get a life.)

5) BOOKS WITH WORDS LIKE PIMP, PLAYA, HO', THUG, TRICK, THONG OR GANGSTA IN THE TITLE (Sorry, no offense intended, really. Were I on lockdown, trying to work the stroll or the pole, I just might find this kind of mess entertaining, but I'm not and I don't.)

6) ANNA NICOLE STORIES (Dang, the poor woman and her son are dead and buried. Can't we just let them rest in peace already?)

7) REALITY SHOWS (Some of this mess is about as entertaining as watching a fat kid pick his nose and at the rate we're going, I'm pretty sure something along those lines will hit the networks soon.)






13) ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION COMMERCIALS (Why it's acceptable to run 15 different, loud, lengthy (no pun intended) and incredibly annoying erectile dysfunction commercials in prime time, but not a single condom ad is truly beyond me.)

So what are you hoping to see less of in 2008? Is there anything on my list you strongly agree or disagree with?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

IT'S 2008 . . . HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

How about we start off 2008 with a quote?

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Albert Einstein

Don't you love that? I ran across it several months ago in an article about Walter Isaacson who penned a bio entitled Einstein: His Life and Universe. Deep down in my gut, I've always believed the idea expressed in the statement above. But it was nice to see that a "genius" had actually confirmed it (smile).