When I first heard it coming across those Klipsch floor standing speakers while perusing the sales floor at BestBuy I knew I had to have it. The song that was playing and the speakers that were producing it. I needed them both. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. I asked the salesman who it was that was singing the song. He didn’t know offhand but didn’t hesitate to look it up for me. Turns out it was ‘Feeling Good’ by Michael Bublé.
I immediately purchased the cd and the speakers. I thought the speakers would be a perfect match to go along with the Harmon Kardon receiver I purchased about a week prior. I couldn’t wait to get home. I was like a child at Christmas. As soon as I got home I connected the speakers and popped in the cd. I forwarded the cd until it got to Feeling Good. And boy did it ever. I just sat back and listened to it over and over again. “Birds flying high, You know how I feel…” The sound was purely amazing!
If you could hear the sound a butterfly makes as it flutters about in all its majesty, trust me, the sound it would be producing would be ‘Feeling Good’ by Michael Bublé.
That’s how good this song sounded. The highs, the lows, the instruments, I was in heaven or so I thought.
Recently, some 15 years later, I came across a video on Youtube discussing great poets and writers like Nikki Giovini, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston and James Baldwin. During the interview they were asked who they listened to for inspiration.
The artists they mentioned were artists that I heard before like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. But one name that kept being mentioned was one I had never heard before, Nina Simone. So naturally being the inquisitive little dipper that I am, I plugged her name in Youtube and started listening to some of her songs.
The songs were beautiful. Each one being very zestful and full of life. I can definitely say she has a unique style that’s all her own. I had her songs playing randomly from a Nina Simone playlist. One after the next until finally I heard a song that as soon as it came on I could feel tears starting to swell in my eyes. I could feel them getting ready to launch down my face like a rocket preparing for liftoff.
The Nina Simone song that was playing was Feeling Good. This time I wasn’t on any high tech sound system with Klipsch speakers as I had been before just the lil ole speakers on the T.V. In this version of “Feeling Good”, the original version, you could hear it all. The pain and the raspiness of Nina’s voice, coupled with each note coming across with such poignant passion, made a perfect deep soulful blend.
Not to take anything from Bublé but this my friends was truly heaven.
I listened to the song multiple times, playing it back to back with tears continuing to roll down the sides of my face. I realize that part of me was tearing up because it sounded so good and so pure but another part of me was upset for the fact that I had never heard it before. Why did it take me until my late thirties to start connecting to such great artists? Why do I take so much for granted? Even the writers I mentioned earlier like Nikki Giovini or Zora Neale Hurston I’m just now finding out about.
These great artists were not mentioned in my many years of education. Is the “system” to blame? Is it my fault for not doing due diligence sooner? Is it my parents fault for not making me as well rounded as they thought? Obviously Bublé heard of Nina Simone, why didn’t he do her justice?
I’m not sure what the answer is or whom to cast blame. What I do know is that our collective accomplishments as a society can be a very rewarding and very valuable experience. Perhaps it would be a good idea for each of us to go beyond our comfort zones, go beyond the standard curriculum that is taught in our schools and just start exploring the many great contributions of other races and cultures on our own.
The artists I mentioned are African American and I implore you to explore their accomplishments. You’ll find that stories and poems written by Nikki Giovani, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston and James Baldwin to name a few are some of the best of any race, color or creed. With that said, when was the last time you looked up the contributions of Filipinos or great Asian poets or inventions by Latinos?
This can go on and on but I think you get my point. Exploring the many contributions of other cultures can only make us a better more inclusive society. I challenge all of you to get out of your comfort zones and become an inquisitive little dipper like myself. You too may find “heaven” and it may not be where you first thought.
Originally published at https://www.partayke.com.