Author: Danielle Pacifico-Cogan

I could study the nuances and intersections of American history, music, art, and culture for the rest of my life and never get bored.

Parul Sehgal’s review of “The Selected Works of Audre Lorde” is a beautiful reflection on the depth and brilliance of Lorde’s work and continued influence. 

“Lorde, like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, is vulnerable to selective quotation. Black writers can be treated as oracles, read symbolically, with lazy reverence; their work is flattened into self-help or polemic, the message extracted and all torsions and contradictions (often the very ones that catalyze the writer) smoothed away. It’s the sort of reading that gives us a simplified, neutralized Lorde, deracinated from her radical roots.”

Links for the Voracious

A little of this and a little of that from around the internet.

“To be able to have the ability to bring other people in, who I think are massively more talented, it’s something that brings me so much excitement.”

-Issa Rae, creator and star of “Insecure”

“And of course we want an economic recovery! But we’re never going to have it if women can’t return to the workforce. We will not have a full and swift economic recovery without addressing core needs around paid sick leave, paid family leave, and affordable childcare. And my Republican colleagues have not come to terms with the crisis we have in childcare. School reopening is not about sheer force of will, you know?”

-Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, (D-IL)

Calvin E. Simmons. Photo: Mary Morris Lawrence

“This lost generation of African American conductors led major concerts by Arturo Toscanini’s NBC Symphony, gave the Philadelphia Orchestra premiere of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 8, and led the Metropolitan Opera’s celebrated rehabilitation of Meyerbeer’s Le Prophète. Most of them were robbed of that over-60 elder-statesman period when the world was likely to more widely celebrate their accumulation of artistic wisdom.”

A peak into Harriet’s Bookshop, a Black woman owned bookstore celebrating the work of Black women.

The One and Only Yola

Source: Guitar.com

Yola’s “Walk Through Fire” is an album I can’t stop recommending to people. It is gorgeous and generous, entrancing from the first note to the last. Yola’s voice and guitar playing are tender, precise, and powerful. She commands her musical gifts with singular grace. Yola has the rare ability to create the simultaneous and contradictory feeling of sinking deeply into the sumptuousness of her voice and being effortlessly elevated by it, all in the same song. Each song on the album is a perfectly crafted story. “Walk Through Fire” is a testament to Yola’s overflowing talent as a vocal and lyrical storyteller. There are no lulls in this 41 minute treasure.

“Singing was like the air I breathed. I sing to live.”

-Yola, Paper Magazine (January 2020)

“Walk Through Fire” is major. The beauty of the album cannot be overstated. It is an organic mix of genres in harmony- Country and R&B, Folk, Rock, and Soul. Every song on the album should be a huge hit. It’s easy to imagine Yola’s voice floating from car speakers and through ear buds, listeners singing or humming along to one gem of a song after another. The album is timeless. It is familiar and fresh, living in a musical space no one has touched in a long time. The energy is reminiscent of the ways great songs by Joan Armatrading, Roberta Flack, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Bob Dylan make you feel. What puts the album over the top, with all of its beauty and craftsmanship on glorious display in sparkling arrangements is Yola’s intimate love of music that has been tended and treasured to create something uniquely her own. “Walk Through Fire” is a musical blessing. 

“Ride Out in the Country” should be a Country radio staple. It’s a song made for road trips and sitting creek side on a hot summer day.

“Faraway Look,” the first song on the album is so lush. It is a signal of the richness to come.

“Lonely The Night” is an anthem of love lost.

NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Little Richard is Gone

The final member of the Rock N’ Roll triumvirate has passed. May Little Richard rest in peace and paradise with the ancestors and may the memories of those moved and transformed by his music be long.

Little Richard was a righteously vainglorious genius. He was the blueprint for the energy, the showmanship, and the verve of popular music. His influence is everywhere and without him there would be no Prince, no David Bowie, no Grace Jones, no Rolling Stones, no Beatles, no Iggy Pop, no Earth, Wind, and Fire

He lived long enough to be celebrated, but there are not enough words, at least for me, to accurately describe the blessings he bestowed on the world.

We Wear the Mask

By Paul Laurence Dunbar
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
       We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
       We wear the mask!