Clark Terry: Master Jazz Trumpeter and Educator

The day before J.K. Simmons won an Oscar (best supporting actor) for his portrayal of a sadistic jazz teacher in Damien Chazelle’s pulsating, fictional movie Whiplash, legendary jazz trumpeter and educator Clark Terry died Feb. 21 at age 94 after a long battle with diabetes. Terry — known for his affable nature as much as his musical brilliance — was one of the main figures in another 2014 breakout film, Alan Hicks’ touching documentary Keep On Keepin’ On. That film …

African Americans Share What Makes Them Happy

In 2012, AARP released a study titled “Beyond Happiness: Thriving,” which explored what happiness means to adults and what it takes to thrive as they age. AARP surveyed more than 4,000 Americans ages 35-80, including African Americans/blacks. Regardless of age, relationships were found to be universally important and key drivers of happiness. Among African Americans/blacks age 50 and over, family, relationships and faith top the list of experiences that contribute to personal happiness. The most significant were: Watching your children, …

Civil Rights Songs in the Key of Freedom Still Resonate

“Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I’m worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand precious Lord, lead me on.” In the movie Selma, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. calls Mahalia Jackson, the “Queen of Gospel,” at a moment when he is most discouraged. Over the phone, she sings “Precious Lord” to comfort him. For me, this was one of the …

Joe Cocker: Shakin’ Soul Shouter

As a singer, Joe Cocker was blessed with a magnificently raspy, soulful delivery that made him one of the most immediately recognizable vocalists in the history of rock music. But what really stuck in the public’s mind was his dancing: those flailing, knock-kneed, spasmodic movements that made it almost seem as if he was struggling with a demonic possession as he blew away the crowd at the Woodstock festival in 1969. As Cocker explained in a 2013 interview, even he …

True Love and Dementia: Revisiting ‘The Notebook’

If you’ve sobbed through The Notebook, we’d probably be friends. It’s true. A quick Facebook search reveals that dozens of my friends — of different ages, genders, hometowns, etc. — have liked the page for the movie, now a good 10 years since its premiere. Although I haven’t clicked like on the fan page, I do like The Notebook. It’s hard to resist the love story of Noah and Allie (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams), as told by an older …

Bobby Keys: That Was Him on Sax in ‘Brown Sugar’

Bobby Keys’ driving, raw tour de force saxophone solo in the middle of the Rolling Stones’ 1971 hit “Brown Sugar” will still raise the little hairs on your neck decades later. But Keys, who died Dec. 2 at age 70 in Franklin, Tenn., was no one-hit wonder. He played frequently with the Stones for most of the group’s half-century of existence and is heard on numerous other songs in their repertoire, from 1969’s “Live with Me” to 1980’s “Emotional Rescue.” You’ve …