Thursday, January 12, 2006

His Song Will Last Forever

The music world is in mourning over last Friday's death of Lou Rawls, who just last week lost his battle against lung and brain cancer. His smooth, silky tones and soulful vocal style are known across the nation and around the world, and will be remembered fondly for years to come. His hits spanned more than four decades, and made him one of a select few artists to gain Grammy nominations in Pop, Jazz and R&B, plus one for Best Recording for Children in 1982.

But his legacy includes much more than just the music.
In 1976, Rawls became the corporate spokesman for Anheuser Busch, the world's largest brewery, which led in 1980 to that company's sponsorship of two events which have continued to this day. One was a series of concerts for American military personnel on bases around the world. The other was a telethon whose proceeds, now more than $200 million, are donated to the United Negro College Fund.

Epitomizing cool, class and soul, his humanitarian efforts have won him more than honors, more even than a street named after him in Chicago, where South Wentworth Avenue is now Lou Rawls Drive. His work for the UNCF has been the joy of a man who never went to college but has since been awarded numerous honorary doctorates. "I remember a woman came up to me once and said, 'Thank you. You made my grandson the first college grad in our family.' That makes it all worth it."
Lou Rawls made a big difference in the lives of many, many young black men and women who without him may never have had the opportunity to go to college. As one longtime friend (and the host of Mr. Rawls' official website) fondly recalled, "During his travels, nothing lit Lou's eyes more than meeting the doctors, lawyers, architects, etc., who had benefited from scholarships as a result of his telethons and other fundraising activities for the UNCF. He truly believed that 'a mind is a terrible thing to waste.'"

Family, friends and fans of Mr. Rawls will be both celebrating his life and grieving his death this Friday as he is laid to rest in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the services will likely be marred by two very unfortunate situations.

First, as reported by FOX News, there is a family feud raging between Rawls' widow Nina Inman, the 35-year-old former airline stewardess who married him only two years ago, and his adult daughter Louanna. Funeral plans are moving forward, but some seem to fear that claws will soon be bared.

The funeral service is expected to be quite an event, featuring such musical talents as Stevie Wonder, Andrae Crouch, Joan Baez and Della Reese. But our sadness is only intensified by the news that the Rev. Jesse Jackson will be officiating at Friday's services. Recent funeral performances by Jackson included that of convicted murderer Tookie Williams, where Jackson used the event to deliver... statements about the socio-political intertwined with capital punishment in the United States, including referencing Tookie as a "healer, not a predator."
Jackson was also involved in the recent Detroit memorial service for the late Rosa Parks that turned into a leftwing political rally. In that instance, Jackson used his eulogy for that great lady as a platform to blast President Bush and his administration for supposed crimes against the black community.

Lou Rawls should be laid to rest with love and dignity, and should be remembered for all the joy he brought and the lives he enriched with his talents, service and generosity. Let us hope and pray that his family, friends and fans will be spared the circus that seems to be looming over this last goodbye.


Anonymous barfkitty said...

I have loved listening to Lou Rawls since I was a kid. My mom had several of his earlier albums (you know, those big round vynil things that precursored iPods, CDs, cassettes, and even 8-tracks!) We used to sit in the living room late at night, just the two of us, and listen to that beautiful baritone voice. I'll miss him.

1/12/2006 12:08 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damm Songbird - you can find just about any reason too bash Revrend Jackson. Dont you ever feel gilty for attakcing men of god who are trying to do whats best for our people? Your a disgrace to the African race.

1/12/2006 2:06 PM  

Anonymous The Dude said...

Odd... I thought Songbird was a member of the American race.

1/12/2006 3:34 PM  

Anonymous the dude said...

I received this in my e-mail this morning. I've seen it before, but it more fully explains my comment above:

An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German,
Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian,
Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian,
Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani or Afghan.

An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or
Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan . The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of
them chooses.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.

When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago,
Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!

As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan. Americans welcome the best of everything...the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services. But they also welcome the least.

The national symbol of America , The Statue of Liberty , welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America.

Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001 earning a better life for their families. It's been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 different countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided
and abetted the terrorists.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

I am an American who doesn't believe that Jackson is doing what is best for the American people.

1/13/2006 9:22 AM  

Blogger Songbird said...

Thanks for sharing that, Dude. I'd not seen that one before, but will definitely keep on hand. My first reaction upon reading is that it was not really describing Americans as much as people in general (i.e., not the American race but the human race). But then I started thinking about all the countries and cultures that don't fit into these beliefs, and I have to agree. Definitely a keeper.

1/13/2006 10:37 AM  

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