Historic Salutes To Music Greats
Written By: Tara S. Merchant
Reflection- How often are you surprised to think of or hear a song that you have not heard in decades? These moments generally cause a few reactions and emotions. They may take you ‘back down memory lane’ to hear these same words by the late Minnie Riperton. These songs may make you laugh, love, cry, or move your body to the beat. Music is a universal language to many. There are so many genres including R&B, Pop, Rock and Roll, Jazz, Hip Hop, Classical, Reggae, and Country music, and a cascade of other types of music that many of us truly love.
My great love for music led me to interview a living legend—an icon—Ms. Melba Moore, who is an inspiration to many. Her accolades are amazing. They started with the theatrical productions Hair, Purlie, Timbuktu, and as the first Black woman to star in Les Miserables. Her career also spans years in film and is credited by many hit songs on Billboard and other charts. With more than 40 years in the industry, this Queen is not finished.
On Friday, August 26, 2022, Moore received the Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award honoring her career. At this event held at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, she also received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her commitment to improvement within urban communities. This year, the Tony award winner also received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Melba Moore is the epiphany of royalty, style, grace, and has a tenacity that shows that for her giving up is not an option.
Recently, Melba Moore sang hit song “Lean On Me” at a Street Naming event in the honor Mr. James Mtume, another musical prodigy and cultural King in his home town of South Philadelphia. Mtume, who departed this life on January 9, 2022, now has a street name for him, James Mtume Way. He was a Jazz and R&B musician, songwriter, producer, activist, and radio personality, who was known as an extraordinary renaissance man.
Mtume left a legacy in the music industry having written songs for other icons. Some included Roberta Flack (The Closer I Get to you), which she shared with Donny Hathaway (Back Together Again), Stephanie Mills, Keisha Cole, Lost Boyz, and many others. To many, he is best known for his 1983 hit ” Juicy Fruit” that rang out at many parties and cookouts and was sampled by The Notorious B.I.G.’s hit song Juicy.
Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and flight to the imagination. I salute and thank these two Iconic Legends for their contributions and for bringing memorable music to the hearts and souls of many.