The Beauty of my Day of Birth

Every year is so much sweeter than the last. My day of birth is more than just getting older. With each new day, I become richer with every breath that I take. I celebrated with my sister earlier today over a beautiful lunch. So precious is our time with family!!

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The Purple Rain/Reign Continues…

Image result for free google images of Prince Rogers NelsonImage result for free google images of Prince Rogers Nelson

A few days ago, I wrote a blog post called Farewell to a Royal Prince: https://sporterhall.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/fairwell-to-a-prince/. As I read it over several times, I realized that I did not touch on many of the things that I really wanted to. There is so much to say and I feel that my original article barely scratched the surface. So I decided to write a continuation, to see if I could actually do the artist we all know as ‘Prince’, some justice, at least in my own mind.

What I really wanted to say, was that the energy Prince created in his music was so magically and wonderfully contagious. The infamous guitar riffs captured each and every shred of a person’s being. Never having had the opportunity to see Prince in concert, I’ve only been able to witness his magic on film and radio. I can only describe his self-taught mastery of the guitar as pure and overwhelming electricity. And he shared his electrical musical tantrums with the world; charging through Friends (fans) with abandon, leaving them in awestruck shock, forever transformed by the experience.

I can’t think of any other artist that made fans feel like they were sharing in those high-voltage tantrums, while also releasing their own pent up, stored energy, right along with him, by way of his high energy performances and a one-of-a-kind unique dance style, that included jumping off of risers and speakers that were several feet high. And lets talk about the dancing for a minute. Wow! Prince had a way of bringing the flavor of James Brown, Little Richard and the slightest hint of Elvis into his splits, fancy footwork, sexy gyrations and incredible handling of the microphone; which seemed to bend and fall under his expert command and high fever-pitched screams . He was truly something to watch. As I learn more about him, I realize that I never really knew just how great of an all-around artist/performer Prince was until now. It’s like I’m being introduced to him all over again, and I’m so thrilled to make his acquaintance, even if only in song and on film.

Prince was fearless, an eccentric musical warrior, able to project an overwhelmingly masculine presence, yet was so visibly in touch with his feminine side; a delicate balancing act within itself. But make no mistake. Standing only 5 feet 2 inches, Prince was all man, in every sense of the word. He exuded a masculine swagger that was all his own, sprinkled with little pops of femininity throughout his persona, much like the bursts of color that always adorned his amazing wardrobe.

Prince was able to blend people of all walks of life together with his music, whether that was his original intention or not. He was a master chef of an expansive melting pot, that still gives off its sweet aroma of love, harmony, and selflessness, all seasonings that are enjoyed throughout the world today, as a result of his phenomenal love for his craft and his friends (fans). Not only did his friends (fans) get the show of their lives during his performances, but they also received the bonus of a unique kind of therapy, universal in its healing, as he administered ultra-high doses of his specialized formula to the world.

His talent speaks for itself, and in resounding volumes that will blare out in amplified decibels for many decades to come. I defy anyone to sit still while listening to songs like: Let’s Go Crazy, Little Red Corvette, Controversy, 1999 (Party Like It’s 1999) and seemingly countless others. His music makes you happy, it raises you up when you’re feeling low, it gives you hope when the world seems hopeless. It takes a special kind of person to be able to create such a powerful and positive landscape, all while expressing himself by way of his passion. It’s what makes his death so hard to accept.

Purple, the color of passion, that of which he gave without inhibition, each and every time he stepped onto the stage. Is it any wonder that purple was Prince’s signature color?Royalty never donned an artist so well, as did his birth name, Prince. So much zest for life, now whisked away as quickly and unexpectedly as when he first burst onto the scene with his debut album titled: For You, in 1978.

Prince was an artist who was socially conscious on so many levels. His highly sexual expressiveness, was disturbing to some, but you have to appreciate his raw honesty and  uninhibited way of letting his feelings be known and heard. He made the world feel free as he let us all know that it’s okay to be an individual and to be true to one’s own self. In spite of all the highs and lows of the music industry, Prince did remain true to himself throughout his thirty five plus year career. Even if you aren’t a fan, surely you can respect his hustle. So sad to think that even after all the music that he shared with us, there is still so much more to Prince that we will never know. The hazy mystique of his opaque persona, will be shrouded in even more mystery than ever before. After all, isn’t that what true legends are made of? And so the purple rain/reign continues!!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

**Prince did not care for the word ‘fan’. He often to referred to his audience(s) and lovers of his work as his ‘friends’, as referenced in this post.

Images: Free Google images

Farewell to a Royal Prince…

It’s growing very tiresome and troublesome, mourning yet another mega-superstar musical icon. Yet, somehow, I still have some tears left. Prince Rogers Nelson is gone. It still doesn’t resonate with me, whether I write it or say it. In fact, it’s downright unbelievable! He was one of the last true baby-boomer sensations, that my generation could relate to on such a deep level.

Each time an announcement is made about the death of another larger-than-life person, of course the initial reaction is a big fat dose of denial. At least this is the case for me. But this time, denial didn’t stay around very long, as the media began to quickly flood the airwaves on Thursday afternoon, April 21, 2016, with the shocking news of Prince’s death.

Maybe you hoped as I did that this was another hoax. Sometimes people with a dark, sick sense of humor, ignite rumors of a celebrity’s passing. Incidentally, Bill Crystal has been reported to have passed away several times, but thankfully, he lives to laugh about it. But there’s nothing funny about it. Especially, God forbid, when the day actually comes and the ‘true’ announcement is made, no one will believe the news. Unfortunately, our ‘Prince’ has left the building, for real.

I must say that I am both moved and impressed by the outpouring and showings of support from all over, to pay homage to this genius of a man, known by only one name, Prince. A man that has contributed so much to the music industry and the world in general. Interestingly, I don’t see very many people shedding tears. Mostly, there is contagious dancing and laughter amidst the purple rain, that has spread like wildfire, as people gather to reminisce about their beloved ‘Prince’. The tear-free crowds are a bit of an unusual sight, but also refreshing to see because it helps to dry up some of my own. He has given us pure joy through song and selfless humanity, both of which were shared so generously with with so many; two gifts that keep on giving as his music and kindness  live on forever.

I may not have all of his music, or any of his music. I can truly love an artist and what they do, but won’t have one piece of their music. This is amazing to me even as I share this odd fact about myself. But does that make me any less a fan than the person that has their favorite artist plastered all over their bedroom wall, or owns every t-shirt ever made in that’s artist’s image? I think not. I am just as much a fan of Prince as anyone else. As always, when an artist that I adore passes away, I pay homage to them by watching every documentary, news segment, reading every article I can get my hands on concerning the person. I then get to the business of purchasing all of their music. You may think this is backwards, but I guess it’s how I roll. Regardless, I will soon be able to play his music in heavy rotation within the comfort of my home.

I’ve often heard others who don’t understand the die-hard fan nature of some people. They don’t understand how people can get so caught up and distraught when a high caliber celebrity passes away. After all, they don’t know the celebrity personally. Well, that’s easy to answer. When you truly enjoy the artistry and talent of a artist and they move you in ways that can barely be described in words, as a true fan, you develop a connection with these people. You almost feel as if you do know them. It’s called the power of music and it is magical.

Prince provided the soundtrack, backdrop, and narrative for a major part of my life, as I’m sure he did for so many others. How could I not feel connected in a strong way when tragedy strikes? His music has gotten me through some exciting, tough and very challenging times. And there’s so much music that he gifted us with. It’s so fitting that he loved the color purple. He seemed to quietly and humbly rest comfortably in knowing that he was indeed royalty. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that he’s gone and that I will never get the opportunity to see him in concert. At least there’s film and plenty of music to remember him by and for that, I am eternally grateful. I will miss him greatly. Rest in peace, royal Prince.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Beneath My Granddad’s Hat…

Image result for free google images of drawings of men wearing hats or caps

My granddad on my mom’s side always wore a hat, one with a brim on it that very effectively hid his eyes from the world. As a little girl, I remember stooping over while trying to peer underneath the hat. I just wanted to see his eyes. Granddad was a tall man, about 6ft 2 I imagine. His ever-present hat made him appear to be even taller, such a majestic and powerful figure as seen through my youthful eyes. When I would call out to him, he would often tilt his head just right, revealing two shiny brown balls of joy that made my heart dance with excitement. His eyes always seemed to be filled with laughter, even when he wasn’t smiling, but the smile was never far away.

It was a rare occasion to find my granddad without his hat. Sometimes, I would stand and watch grandpa sleeping under its safety and security. I used to think it was so funny when he would fall asleep in his favorite chair, his faithful ‘companion’ completely covering his face. At those times while granddad slept, the hat seemed to take on a life of its own, as it loyally watched over its owner. while providing a kind of protective shield from onlookers. As granddad quietly snored, the hat would rise and fall with each intake and exhale of his quiet rhythmical breathing.

It has been a very long time now since my granddad went home to Glory to be with his Father. Even though the window panes of my memory have aged, I still remember him exactly the same way I did all those years ago. While the hat he wore accented his signature style, the man underneath was, is and will forever be…..priceless!!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Images: Free Google Images

Not Knowing Could Kill You!!

We all have routine things that we have to do and revisit from time to time. For the most part, we can often expect the same outcome. So we go about our business, not expecting any different results. For example: a routine medical appointment. You’ve had several follow-up appointments in the past and usually they have been uneventful, thank God. But then comes a time, maybe two, when you are caught completely off guard.

If you are anything like me, you may tend to do the majority of things in life on your own, flying ‘solo’ in most cases. Now, this may be for any number of reasons. It may be personal preference, or the fact that your usual support system is unavailable at the times when you could really benefit from their physical and emotional presence. For me, it’s a combination of both.

Yesterday, I went to my annual mammogram screening. Actually, I was overdue for my screening which is still a mystery to me. I could have sworn I had a screening in 2014, but records show that I had not had a screening since 2013. Wow! I really missed the mark on that one. I’m a real stickler when it comes to following up on all of my medical appointments, or so I thought. Yet somehow, this one escaped me. Forgive the old cliché in this instance, ‘but better late than never’.

As I sat in the lobby and watched people come and go, I noticed that quite a few women arrived in pairs. I’ve often heard of this ‘buddy’ system when attending mammogram screenings. The emotional support must be priceless. I’ve seen this many times before but for some reason, it really stood out to me yesterday. How I wished I had someone with me, if for nothing but to pass the time away.

I observed quietly while a pair of women would emerge from their testing, receive their favorable results and prepare to leave. They always seemed to be in such high spirits. After all, a clean bill of health in this instance is reason to be jubilant. I couldn’t help but wonder as I watched numerous women come and go, if they would go some place nice for lunch once they left the facility. Did they meet up with other friends to celebrate their favorable outcomes?

I continued to catch up on some reading while I waited for my results. I expected to be called from the left side of the room where those that have been screened are called into a specific room to receive their results. For some reason when my name was called, it came from the right side of the room; where people are called that still have to have their screenings done. My heart started pounding as I contemplated why I was being called from that side of the room. A technician greeted me with a wonderful demeanor and an infectious smile while advising me that a few more images were needed. If only she knew the bullets I was sweating and that she stood directly in the line of fire – an unsuspecting target, much like I felt as we made our way down the lengthy hallway.

This immediately took me back, a kind of de ja vu.  The year was 2001. At that time, I was again waiting patiently for my results when a technician informed me that the doctor needed a few more images. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with breast cancer during the Breast Cancer Awareness Month of that year. Imagine that! Thankfully, it was caught in time. As a result, I am a survivor – a title I only want to hold once as it pertains to this potentially deadly disease.

As I followed the technician down the seemingly never ending hallway, I heard my heart beating loud and clear. I was convinced that the technician could hear it too. Several more images were taken at which point I was directed back to the waiting room. I noticed a few women noticing me return back to the same seat I was in before. I could almost see the questions within their kind facial expressions. There was a silent camaraderie that we all shared and that was both understood and appreciated. We were all there for the same reason(s), whether in pairs or alone as I was. I realized then and there, the beauty in this kind of unspoken sisterhood where no words or conversation is necessary.

Again, I was called from the right side of the room and asked if I was able to stay for an ultrasound. Oh my God! This could not be happening. Of course, I agreed as I couldn’t imagine leaving there without any and all necessary testing being performed. The doctor that performed the ultrasound was a breath of fresh air. He was very kind and thoroughly explained the images to me and the importance of looking deeper into his findings to ensure my health and safety. He even gave me his personal cell phone number to contact him if we miss each other concerning the results which should be available some time today.

By the end of a visit that began at 11:00am on yesterday, I had completed a needle biopsy in addition to all the other testing. I was able to finally leave after 3:00pm with many thanks from staff for my patience. Evidently, some people get really upset when they find they need to stay far beyond what they had originally planned for. I wasn’t happy about spending my whole day there, but I am very pleased and thankful for the prompt and thorough attention that was extended to me. I would much rather allow all the required testing while I’m there, rather than come back and forth at a later time. For me, it’s a no-brainer. Sometimes, we have to be inconvenienced in order to get to the bottom of red flags that we are made aware of when it comes to our health. After all, it’s the not knowing that could kill you, right?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Did You Know?…(11)

 

I had the pleasurable opportunity to see the James Brown movie: “Get On Up” this past Friday. I was very impressed with the lead actor, Chadwick Boseman, who played the role of James Brown. I watched in awe while Mr. Boseman nailed the dance movements, diction, speech, walk, mannerisms, etc. of James Brown. Overall, I felt it was a good movie, but there was a great deal left unexplained. However, it was indeed an experience to witness some of the more poignant moments in the life of this historical musical legend unfold onscreen.

Here are some interesting facts about James Brown:

    • James Brown is often referred to as ‘the hardest working man in show business’.
    • James Brown’s first name was originally intended to be Joseph, but was somehow accidentally reversed on his birth certificate.
    • James Brown was sent to live with his Aunt Honey Washington at the age of six. His aunt sold moonshine and ran a brothel to support herself.
    • James Brown aspired to be a professional baseball player and a boxer when he was younger.
    • A news anchor once reported James Brown to be dead in 1992, in error.
    • Try Me” was James Brown’s 1st No 1 single on the R&B charts in 1959.
    • Although James Brown was unable to read ‘sheet music’, he was a musical genius.
    • James Brown died on Christmas Day in 2006. His coffin was made of 24-Karat-gold.
    • James Brown is the most ‘sampled’ artist of all time.

***Sampling – definition: the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a sound recording in a different song or piece.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

 

 

 

Did You Know? (2)

Cover art

Did you know that Maya Angelou was raped at the age of 7 by her mother’s boyfriend; a man named Mr. Freeman. After she confided in her brother about the incident and testified at Mr. Freeman’s trial, he was found dead.

Did you know that Maya blamed herself for Mr. Freeman’s death? She believed that because she had revealed the crime that he committed against her, he met with a violent death. Maya Angelou did not speak again for 6 years because she thought her ‘voice’ had been the direct cause of Mr. Freeman’s untimely death.

Did you know that during her self-induced silence, Maya Angelou found her voice again; through poetry? This life-changing event was the foundation that inspired her very first autobiography: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

Did you know that “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was written on a dare? That’s right. Maya Angelou wrote this critically acclaimed and highly successful autobiography before she became famous and was very reluctant to do so, initially. Her editor, Robert Loomis had been trying to get her to write an autobiography for some time and then in so many words, he basically told her that it was virtually impossible to write an autobiography as literature. In other words, she couldn’t do it! I guess she showed not only him, but the world! Hence her quote: “If you want me to do something, tell me I can’t do it.” What are some interesting facts you know about this amazing, award-winning, highly accomplished writer?

 

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

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