November 1st was All Souls Day. It is one of my favorite holidays because it has nothing to do with cards, candy, plastic toys, or stuffed animals. It is the unsexiest of holidays, because it celebrates death. Not death, but those who have gone before. It is the opportunity to think of friends, family, mentors who have touched our lives directly or indirectly. It is a time to remember what loved ones have taught us and the lessons learned through how they lived. I was thinking about some who were close to me as well as a few well known musicians who passed away this year.

1) Aretha Franklin
I love listening to Aretha, that 3 octave voice of God range went straight to the listener’s heart. That voice had to the power to make me want to be a better person. She had a 40 year career- this kind of longevity is not for the weak and did I mention the 18 Grammy Awards?! But what impressed me most was her philanthropy, she supported folks in her own community of Detroit.

2) Bob Dorough
Thank you Bob Dorough for educating me! I grew up on School House Rock (yes, I am dating myself). Those short nuggets of songs were catchy, fun and helpful. I remember scrolling through the Multiplication song when faced with a math problem that stumped me. I never knew music could be used to learn! He played with Miles Davis and Blossom Dearie to name of few, and left an expansive discography. His contagious sense of playful joy of making music was one of his super powers that I loved.

3) Hugh Masekela
I don’t know much about the life of Hugh Masekela , but his was one of the first trumpet tones that I recognized. Other than civil rights songs he was my first world music introduction on how music can be used as a political tool in the face of injustice, specifically apartheid. Music as an action of bravery–that is good lesson. Thank you Bra Masekela.

Take a minute and think about those who are no longer with us and say thank you….who is on your thank you list?

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