Monday, April 28, 2008

Another Reason to Sing

Singing makes me happy. I have never really considered all the reasons why. The most obvious one is that music makes me happy, and singing is part of my everyday ritual for expressing gratitude for the miracle in my life that is music.

In yoga this weekend, though, my instructor Maggie commented that singing and chanting is also a great, easy way to release stress -- for more physiological reasons. Singing forces you to breathe deeply, and breathing deeply transforms your autonomic nervous system, relaxing you. Of course!! Somehow I never thought about that before.

As IF I needed another reason to sing, but hmmm... I wonder if my dissertation committee would mind if I started my defense tomorrow with a group song - ?

Friday, April 25, 2008

NPR Story Corps

My alarm this morning spoke in the voice of 10 year-old Rasheed McKenstry, interviewing his mother, Rhonetta McKenstry, for NPR's Story Corps. Today my heart leapt out of bed before the rest of me. I could listen to these Story Corps recordings all day long. I think once I'm officially all done with my PhD I will.

Here's the text of today's interview featured on Morning Edition. It's better if you listen to it live, though.

Morning Edition, April 25, 2008 · When Rahsheed McKenstry, 10, and his mother Rhonetta McKenstry entered the StoryCorps booth in Memphis, Tenn., he quickly found his own interview style ... a style that uncovered hard truths.

"OK, Ms. Rhonetta McKenstry," he asked, "what are some of the biggest lessons that you learned during your childhood?"

"I feel like I'm at a job interview," she replied.

"I had a very good mother, which is why I think I'm a very good mother," she said. "She used to fix me breakfast in the morning whenever she could. She gave me kisses like I do you and your brother. And she yelled at me... It means she cares."

He asked, "OK, so why are you not still married?"

"Because my ex-husband was horrible," she said.

"Was he violent toward you?"


"Was he violent toward anybody else?"

"You and your brother, which is why I won't let him see you."

"How does that affect you?" she asked.

"It affects me because I'm inquisitive. I want to know everything and he's my father and I should know more. It kind of makes me feel depressed and mad. Not depressed, but kind of mad that those things happened to my mother," he said.

"What kind of man do you think you're going to be?" she asked.

"A very great man — better than my father, for sure."

He asked, "How do you feel about [my brother] Chris and I?"

"See, now you're trying to make me cry," she said. "You have to understand I'm proud of the two of you. Y'all have different personalities. Chris is happy-go-lucky, but you ... I'm just in awe of you sometimes. Y'all keep me going. Everything I do is really for the two of you."

He asks his mother, "Why is your nose turning red?"

"[Because] I'm about to cry," she said. "How many times have you ever seen me cry?"

"Three times. This is my third," he answered.

"I love you, Rahsheed."

"I love you, too, Ma. Thank you for answering all my questions."

Rhonetta McKenstry will be entering law school this fall. She plans to specialize in family law to help women who have suffered from domestic violence.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Estelle + Lots of Special Guests

I'm listening to Estelle's new album "Shine" today (stream below). It's really solid. I wonder how much of it is due to smart executive production, though,(good job, John Stephens/Legend) b/c the best songs are the ones where she shares the spotlight with big names. You probably already know "American Boy" (ft. Kanye) and "Wait a Minute" (ft. and produced by Will.I.Am). "Shine" (produced by Swizz Beats) is my latest favorite. I'm also loving the way "No Substitute Love" (Wyclef shares production credits) plays with George Michael's "Faith".

The only song I really have to skip from boredom is "Back to Love", which sounds to me a lot like a mightily watered down version of John Stephens/Legend's "Again". (and disclaimer: I liked "Again"!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Warning: Lykke Li is Addictive

I have been out of my usual scouring-the-web for new cool music mode ... blame it on the dissertation defense next Tues. (!). But Julianne mentioned that her office is addicted to this song "Little Bit", and now I've got it on repeat too.

I also really like Lykke Li's song "Dance Dance Dance" (see video below) Can't decide which of the two I like better.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I love this music and Umalali's new album. It's music from the Garifuna communities of Central America, that has all kinds of cool influences. Umalali is performing at Symphony Space tomorrow night too - maybe RMW will be convinced to check it out. Thanks WNYC's Soundcheck!