Monday, August 11, 2008


In sixth grade, Sister Wilhelmina (who lived up to her Imperial German namesake) showed a crack in her stern, habit-bedecked facade. She allowed one student in our art class to bring a radio so we could listen to music while we cut our construction paper. One of my hip friends turned the dial to the Big 8, CKLW AM 800, the Canadian radio station whose high-power signal transmitted a fabulous mix of R&B, rock, and pop to us kids in Detroit. Canada was a cool, cool place. But Wilhelmina's little experiment came to a shocking halt as soon as the first R&B tune came out of the tinny speaker. "Turn off that nigger music!" she snapped. Off went the radio as a bunch of red faced students stared down into their half-finished art projects. By the mid-70s, we knew to be embarrassed for her.

Perhaps the voice that so alienated our Teutonic teacher was that of Issac Hayes. Hayes's golden voice fills the soundtrack of my Detroit childhood.

In this fabulous rendition of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," Hayes offers his rebuttal to intolerance--not in any political way--but with a silky smooth celebration of love. "Love makes the world go around." Amen, Issac, may you rest in peace. The eternal choir will be digging it.

1 comment:

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