Sitting here studying some music for an upcoming performance, I am sharply reminded of the days where I would sit up in the late hours teaching myself how to play the piano. Literally, I was up, most times, right before I had to catch the bus to Spanaway Junior High. As a younger boy, I knew how sing, so I recognized notes. When it came time for me to pick up the piano, I had already developed an acute ear for hearing how people voiced their chords. I would watch some of the town’s greatest gospel keyboardists and organists: Phil Curry, Linton “Junior” Weems, Dwight Goodman, and James Vaughn to name a few. And of course, I can’t continue writing without mentioning the “Professor” James Brown or the person who told me the importance of learning hymns, Mother Lois Bradford. Each of these individuals gave me a little bit of knowledge so that I could develop into my own statute of musicianship. No one placed a chord chart in front of me: I learned through watching their hands. Sounds crazy, but that’s how it worked for me. I saw what their fingers did, and from there I learned and applied. And that was with years upon years of practicing. I write that to say this: no caterpillar will become the butterfly over night. Even before the caterpillar can begin the process of transformation, it has to prepare it’s cocoon. There is ground work to be laid first in order to move forward and progressively. In anything that we include ourselves in, for us to achieve great results, we have to invest love and time. Fickle is the mind who believes he can grow a forest in a day. That’s not how it goes down. You plant seeds, cultivate and fertilize the soil, water, and repeat before you are able to indulge in the fruits of your labor. In the pursuit of happiness, we must be aware that we have to pursue. Anything worth having is worth working for. We all must crawl before we walk. When we balance ourselves on our own two feet, then we’ll be in better position to leap towards our innermost desires.
You are the vessel That which contains all of my compassion My Passion illuminated Every time You speak Both in lyric, and in movement Harmonious transitions Define Your direction Your March is to a different cadence Burdened not by time For that is Your legacy Evolution inevitable You are what beauty feels like For as long as there is you I live As long as you hold truth I’m free My quest My destiny
What a weekend in Kansas City! First, before I continue to write this, I would like to shout out David Smith, Brian Jacobs, and all of my Brothers of the Kansas City Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. for inviting SOLSTARR out, and treating us with first class hospitality. These Gentlemen envisioned a great affair for the city, and it was thoroughly successful. Thank you for including us in your plot to bring great music to your city. This trip felt like it ran up on us. I swear, yesterday we were in August and woke up to see October. Time moves! But, as soon as we landed in MCI, I knew we were on to a memorable trip. Upon our arrival at the Aladdin-Holiday Inn in Downtown Kansas City, the front desk greets you with a glass of champagne. Then, you enter into the guest room to see the wonderful interior, decorated in red and white with lime green accents (snazzy). Yet, it was not time for us to enjoy our rooms. Within an hour or so of our arrival, we were able to meet some of the locals at the official meet and greet. It was amazing to me to hear of the void of live Black music in the city, considering Kansas City’s history rooted in jazz and rag time. Being a major Midwest city in the middle of a recovering economy, I can only imagine sustaining a lively culture of music would be somewhat difficult. However, the people were super excited, and were very welcoming to SOLSTARR. We were blanketed in southern hospitality within a few hours of being in KC. It felt good. The next morning, we were treated to chicken and waffles at Niecie’s Restaurant. You walk right on in, feeling like you’re at home, waiting for your meal at the breakfast table. Niecie wasn’t in, but her husband made sure we were taken care of. I felt like dude could have been my uncle. He spoke of a time when Steve Harvey came in, trying to eat healthy (turkey links and whatnot, you know), and he opted out of that mindset to get some chicken and waffles (which were hitting, by the way!). After we left Niecie’s, and handled business with sound check, we were introduced to Kansas City’s own world famous Gate’s BBQ. Two words: Presidential Platter. I am now a believer of KC BBQ. Let me tell you: that was the most succulent meat I’ve ever tasted! And that sauce: I can’t even put into words! As I think about it, I didn’t finish my plate at either Niceie’s or Gate’s BBQ. The Kansas City portions are something else! After a late night and a long, early morning, my mind needed rest. A trip to the barber is what usually relaxes my mind, so we took a trip to Ted’s Barbershop on the Northeast side of KC. Ted suffered a stroke a while back, which limited him to his left hand to give me a line up. That, in no way, limited his skill. He got your boy crisp for the evening’s festivities! Ted is a good man: it was slow Saturday in his shop, and he stayed later than he planned to give me a line up. When I reached to pay for his services, he kindly declined, even after I insisted. He didn’t have to do that. And I won’t forget that gesture, either. After a fresh line-up, nap, and scorching hot shower, I pressed my clothes, and was fresh for a great night at the Peachtree. When we walked into the venue, I knew it was going to be a special night. The people were moving and grooving to the original music, which did my heart good. It was great to see Kansas City enjoy good Soul music. There’s much to be said when you can leave home to travel elsewhere and still feel the warmth of familiarity. Thank you, Kansas City, for inviting us down. Whenever Kansas City calls, SOLSTARR will come. Next time, maybe y’all will show me the Kansas City Two Step! :) For the LOVE of SOUL, J.Charles
I woke up this morning, thinking of a conversation I had with a young lady not too long ago. She proposed the question, “when did chivalry die?” Being who I am, I answered without taking a breath, saying, “I believe chivalry died at the birth of the ‘independent woman’.” Now, ladies: don’t jump down my throat just yet. You see, I applaud the efforts of these women who are titans in the work place, have their own, and can handle their own. It’s quite an attractive trait for a woman to be about her business, in my opinion. I am a fan of women who have it together. Though I am a 80s baby, I am, indeed, an old soul. I pride myself in being somewhat “old fashioned”, or whatever that means these days. Seeing the trends of our culture, (e.g. single parent households which, by the majority, are managed by the matriarch) it’s safe to say that the ‘independent woman’ was forced into creation. This development is not something that was conjured up in the 20th century, however. We can take this back all the way to when we were introduced into “the land of the free”. In the Willie Lynch Letter (if you haven’t read this, please google this immediately), one of the key ingredients in making, or ‘breeding’, a slave was to demolish the institution of family. Even then, it recognized that in order to control the subsequent generations, the female had to be the dominant figure within the family. As stated in this document, “by her being left alone, unprotected, with the MALE IMAGE DESTROYED, the ordeal [causes] her to move from her psychologically dependent state to a frozen, independent state.” The ‘independent woman’ was then birthed by emasculation of the male. Can you see the platform on which this was built? Once again, I state, I am not against the woman who handles her own. The problem lies when that woman veers the lane, and impedes on the role of the man. It can be argued that men haven’t stepped up into said role, but maybe (just maybe) that argument is becoming more of an excuse. It takes undeniable strength and wisdom for a woman to be just that: the woman. And that is, in no way, diminishing what the lady brings to the table. In essence, the woman is: supportive, strong, and graceful (at least, that’s what I gather when I observe my mother and grandmother). I find it hard-pressed to be in a situation where there are two “men” in an intimate relationship. In my opinion, the ‘independent woman’ can be just what the term implies: by herself. For the LOVE of SOUL, J.Charles
When I started to write this entry, I didn’t know where I was headed to emphasize my point. Then, while on Facebook, I came across the knowledge of the Florida preacher who is planning to burn the Quran on September 11. What ignorance is this? I’m not sure of the message this gentleman is trying to portray by even bringing the matter into conversation. This, to me, is a gesture of fear and lack of knowledge, and goes against all that coincides with the premise of “together we stand, divided we fall.” I am glad to learn that he decided against this action. I hope we can all take this September 11 to really consider these three words: TOGETHER WE STAND There is much that I can accomplish on my own; there is even more in which I cannot. I dawned on me, today, the power of togetherness. Can you fathom the ideas that could come about in a room full of geniuses? Not one man is made the same. In that point, no one is meant to believe the same; no person is born to operate similar to his neighbor. We are not robots. We are free minds and spirits, destined to form the bonds we choose and permitted to place faith in whatsoever we prefer. Because we hold different ideals, does not warrant us to dislike or be disrespectful to one another. Rather, it is our obligation as human beings to be understanding of one another. Not to say we have to like it; to each, his own. But to have dislike, does not mean we have to remain uninformed. We can learn from one another. This is what it’s about, people: in togetherness, we can conquer all. It’s my belief that the fear of true success is what hinders us from adopting this principle. If were to break from the constraints that separate us all (race, creed, economic status, etc.) and truly come together, I can only imagine, we would all marvel at the conception of our works. It can happen. Anything is possible with togetherness. For the LOVE of SOUL, J.Charles
The Power of Thought Where we let our mind travel, is where we will find ourselves. We’ve all heard the familiar slogan “a mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and so, it is true. What we allow ourselves to believe will come forth in reality. It’s that simple. What is it that you seek to find? What obstacles do you hope to conquer? What we hold within the vastness of imagination is, in fact, possibility. The likelihood of our success or demise is fashioned by what we permit ourselves to accept as the truth. Another saying goes: “the man who believes he can and the man who believes he cannot are both correct”. Let that marinate for a minute. The embodiment of wealth (be it: financial, spiritual, relational, or whatever) is powered by how we let our mind function. Everything begins with thought. Graduating from Eastern Washington University (Go Eags), I knew I had to do something to acclimate myself into what was referred to as “the real world”. Simply put, I need to make money. 2007 being the year of the start of the world’s economic turmoil, it was difficult to find placement in the corporate arena. Many interviews were had, many rejections were given. I could not find myself a job to save my life. Though beaten and discouraged, I was not defeated. I knew I had talents that could get me through, so I leaned on music. It started with the thought: I had to construct a band, gain a residency at a venue, and perform in front of those who were seeking what I had to offer. Within a week’s time, I obtained all in which I envisioned. Crazy how that works: once we place our mind towards something, we acquire what we desire (or don’t desire for that matter). But, it all would not have come together if the initial thought was not there. We have the power, in ourselves, to obtain whatever we see in your mind's eye. Fasten your thoughts on things that are positive, and see those things come to fruition in your life. This is a discipline, and must be practiced constantly. All we have is our beliefs. We must choose wisely what we let our mind consider. For the LOVE of SOUL, J.Charles
When I write my music, the first thing on my mind is the kids. Though the content may seem adult-oriented (hence: Give It To You, Nupe Love), I am really focused on the children. For example, the music of the old school: and I'm talking about that true old school. Marvin, Al, Teddy, Aretha, Lena, Gladys: they spoke on the issues that were true and pure to the soul. How many intimate relationships were saved by "Let's Stay Together"? How many children were born to "Let's Get It On"? These were the pure love songs. Songs that spoke longevity in relationships. What are we teaching our kids today? Recognize the shift in culture: everything is becoming more instant, leading to shorter attention spans. There is hardly any patience in love anymore. There is no work ethic in relationship. Listen to "Closer to You", which speaks of loving one person so much, that your willing to open yourself whole-heartedly to that one person you've been waiting your entire life for. Or even the forthcoming single, "She Can Never Be You", which speaks of wanting and loving that ONE person, no matter what siren may beckon. It's about love, people: uninhibited, true, and exclusive. What legacy are we trying to build? You will hear real soon, the teachings in which we are trying to administer to the kids. Love somebody, and love them with all your might. Hence, the title of the album, "Love Liberated Vol.1". It's my personal goal to help young men love their counterpart, and appreciate and value the woman for what they are to us. It is a lesson that I'm learning as a young man: why not pass down the information? For the LOVE of SOUL, J.Charles
Greetings All. I hope this finds you all in the best of spirits. This being my first blog entry, I'm not sure as to what my message is going to be. Or whether you will choose to listen to my message once I've found it. lol. In any case, I believe I'll digress, and introduce myself to you. My name is J.Charles, and I proudly represent SOLSTARR. We are an upcoming band based in Seattle, Wa. (For those of you who aren't knowledgable of the geographic location of the city: We are in the upper-left corner of the United States) :) The city is rich with musical history: the legendary Quincy Jones went to high school here, and Jimi Hendrix grew up here as well. Bruce Lee's grave is located here, as well. The most recent nationally recognized musicians that come from this region are Nirvana, and Sir Mixalot (if I'm not mistaken). Even now, with out a lot of national attention leaning in our direction, the Pacific Northwest is producing some of the most rawest talent ever witnessed. To name drop a few, there are: Choklate, Darrius Willrich, Tiffany Wilson, Jennifer Newberry, The BGP, Crystal Aiken, Michelle Lang and Still Water, and yours truly, SOLSTARR. What I am really trying to get through to you, as I type my random thoughts is this: I believe that we've heard from every region in the United States. Being that the music industry seeks what is fresh onto the ears of the consumer, now is the time to listen to what's happening in this land of untapped resources. Just my humble opinion.