Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Angel City Chorale

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is the Angel City Chorale:

I saw this choir on America’s Got Talent this year. They were deeply moving. It’s amazing how beautiful the human voice can be.

Made up of 160 people, they come from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures. Founded and led by Sue Fink, they do all sorts of material from folk to jazz to gospel to pop. And they show us how music unites us all.

Here they are performing “Baba Yetu”, the Swahili version of “The Lord’s Prayer”.

Hope you enjoy.

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Near 500 words: Red’s Dilemma

a fairy tale grown up

It was in all the papers.
Red Riding Hood was on trial.
She said it was the Wolf;
she was in denial.
She’d done her granny in.
The evidence told the tale.
Not a pretty one it was.
Folks were not buying her sale.
“The Wolf did it,” she cried out.
But the Wolf had a defence,
“I wasn’t there. I was about.”
He proved that he was a prince.
He removed his wofly mask
and revealed his princely teeth
The crowd ooh-ed and ahh-ed
and gave Red a big defeat.
The prosecutor showed
the crowd her very red hood.
“The evidence will prove
Red did her granny in for good.
Is this your hood and cape?”
She said, “‘Tis what I wore
on that very sad day
when Granny was nevermore.”
Then the man placed on the table
a bowl of solution
to prove Red done the deed
of Granny’s execution.
He lowered the red cape
into the gray substance
and stirred it round and round
with a very long lance.
The broth did a great fizz
and spewed out its bubbles.
Soon it was obvious
Red was in very bad trouble.
The prosecutor lifted
the cape from that messy stuff,
unmasking Riding Hood
and calling her bluff.
For the cape was now white
and streaked with a dark blood.
“Too bad,” the man said, “we didn’t
nip your crime in the bud.
Look what you’ve done without
any reason or rhyme.”
Guilt written on her face,
Red confessed her terrible crime.
“But there was a reason.
Of that you must believe.
It was the three bears made
me murder and deceive.”
“Three bears? What are you saying?
Bears are a gentle folk
who keep our forests safe
for the pine and the oak.”
Then Red went on confessing,
“It was out of desperation
they came to me and pleaded,
‘Give us a cessation.
Your granny is driving us
out of our minds with distraction.
We don’t know what we shall do
‘less you take some action.’
Then they told me their tale.
It was really not nice.
They told it to me once,
a second time, and a thrice.
Their house was invaded
while they cared for the forest.
So when they came home
they were hungry for porridge.
But the porridge was eaten,
their chairs were broken,
and a girl in their bed.
And she offered not a token.
It happened not once
but many times over.
Each time they came home
there in bed under a cover
lay my very own Granny
all nice, comfy and warm.
As the years passed the bears by
this became a weekly norm.
Gran got older but this
didn’t end her obsession
to visit the bear’s house
and break their possessions.
They begged and they pleaded,
‘This is our home, don’t you see?
This isn’t a hotel,
nor an Air BnB.’
At first I resisted.
I wouldn’t intervene.
Then I thought, ‘What the heck.
Granny couldn’t be that mean.’
I went to her one morning
with the birds a-chirping.
I found her in her underwear
with a spell of birping.
I birped her till she was
all birped out and done.
Then I poured her some tea.
We played chess just for fun.
When she was in a good mood
I proposed my proposal.
I’d take her to a hotel
and be at her disposal.
She flew off the handle,
‘The bears put you up to this.’
This was not my granny
once gave me a nighty night kiss.
This was a demon who rushed
me with a pick and a knife,
ready to stab me hard
and slice me in half.
We fought for hours it seems.
Then I made one last rush.
When it was over and done,
Granny spoke not a hush.
So you see why I had
to dye my white cape red.
To hide the blood my granny
bled when she was all dead.
Next time you visit the bears
be sure to knock.
So you won’t end up
Like my granny, Goldilocks.”

Evan’s return

Evan Murphy bought his mother’s house. It was a cottage in Ireland. When he returned to the small village where he grew up to become the fine fellow he was, he presented the deed to her. She was now debt free.

The cottage had been her grandfather’s house and his father’s before him. It even had their smells, the smells of generations who lived in that house.

Evan returned to the village a successful man. The priest welcomed him with open arms. He needed a benefactor and Evan was just the benefactor he needed. Work had not been done on the church for years. The roof had a leak.

Each of the villagers came to Evan with a sob story. Evan helped each out with a little bit of money. After all, he had made plenty. In America. His invention had done it for him. And continued to do it. He had licensed it and now he was living off the royalties.

Conal Breathnach had a daughter. Kathleen was her name. When he was twelve, Evan had fallen in love with her. Now he returned to claim his bride. Kathleen was tall with her long red hair hanging to her waist. She had a quietness to her. A calm that could make it through a storm. Evan loved her deeply, and she loved him in return.

Breathnach agreed to the wedding now that his future son-in-law was a wealthy man. Years earlier he had given the boy a no. Now he gladly gave Evan a nod.

Kathleen and Evan walked beside each other out by the stream where the men fished for their suppers. “What’s your intentions?” she asked the man she was to marry.

“My intensions, Kathleen Breathnach?” Evan held her hand as they walked.

“Yes,” she said. “What do you see for the future, Evan Murphy?”

“Aye,” he said. “I see children. At least, two.”

“I like children,” she said, knowing she would be the one to bear them.

“And I see us living in a big house just outside the village. With acres and acres of land.”

“I want to see the world. I’ve seen this village and I’m ready for the world.”

Evan had always dreamed of returning and living in the village as a great landlord. Kathleen did not have this dream. Her dream was to get as far away as she could from the people in the village. They were a small, petty folk, and she wanted none of them.

Evan had seen the world and he knew the folk everywhere were the same. There were those who’d tried to steal his invention. At least, he knew the pettiness and the smallness of the village folk. But then, if this was what Kathleen wanted, he would give it to her. It had been ten years since he left and she had waited on him. She had had offers but none of them had been Evan Murphy.

They walked over the hill and down to the giant tree where they had pledged their love before he left. Kathleen believed in Evan with all her heart. She had known he would return somebody. And now here he was, a man of the world with worldly success.

Finally, Kathleen asked the question that had been bothering her. “Just how much money do you have, Evan Murphy?” If he was to be the father of her children, she wanted to know none of them would starve the way she had in the year of ’07. That year, the hunger had been the worst it ever was.

Evan Murphy assured her that he had enough money for generations to come. And there was more than enough for a trip around the world. Evan Murphy was a rich man. That was for sure.

“I do love you, Evan Murphy,” she said, then she kissed his lips.

It was the first kiss he had since his return. It was not the kiss he remembered. That kiss had a sweetness to it like honey. This one had a bitterness. The bitterness of experience with living with a father who beat her when he came home drunk. The bitterness of losing her mother from the sickness. The bitterness of having hunger as a companion. It was a bitter kiss.

Evan realized that this was not the Kathleen he’d left behind to go off and make his fortune in America. Evan realized that Kathleen had been a romanticized fantasy. The Kathleen he’d just kissed was not the Kathleen he’d left behind. Life had made her bitter then and life still made her bitter.

The memories of all the tears she’d shed to manipulate him from leaving. All the times they had fights. He remembered the sorrow that the village wore from the poverty it had carried like a burden on its shoulders. It had been a hard life he left behind.

But he loved Kathleen Breathnach. So he agreed to take her away with him. They would sail around the world, then they would settle in a faraway place where there was no bitterness, no hunger and the people lived free of all the poverty the world can throw at you. Perhaps then, Kathleen’s kisses would taste like the sweetness of honey again.

Poem for the day: Lonely

It’s been a bit of time since I have posted a Poem for the Day. So here’s a poem I just finished over the last few days:

Lonely

Lonely stands in the shadows
‘tween dusk and the dawn
Lonely is a shade of gray

Midnight and an apple drops
One a.m. a meteor streaks the sky
Two in the morning a newborn laughs

Three a.m. is three a.m.
and Lonely cannot sleep
Soon there’ll be another sunrise

Just no not yet

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Solitary Man

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight song is Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man”:

This is an early Neil Diamond in the days before he became all superstar. The words are simple and direct and it shows what a great songwriter can do.

It’s the story of someone who’s been betrayed and dumped a number of times. But he’s not giving up on love. He’ll keep trying till he finds just the right person. Though it comes from a guy’s point of view, it could very well be a woman singing this song.

One of the reasons I love this song is the simplicity of the lyrics. Yet they hit and they hit hard. We feel the singer’s pain. Most of us have been there and he is speaking personally for us. That is what makes Neil Diamond one of the great songwriters of our time.