The troubles of this world are so much and such; if we stare too long into the muck, we end up inverting our happiness into abiding sorrow. It is best to find beauty in the midst of distress and to find songs in the middle of cacophonous walks. After writing a couple of articles that were heavy on the misfortunes of this world (link), I made it my intention to focus the latter half of this day on the music that is my source of happiness. One of my favorite Twitter followers, Orlando Jones (link), inspired me earlier for having the courage to delve into contentious issues without being divisive in his approach. When I went to his Twitter profile, I saw that one of the people he follows is the amazing Lalah Hathaway.
Anyone who calls himself or herself a fan of Rhythm and Blues loses instant credibility if they do not know the great Donny Hathaway. I grew up listening to the songs of Donny; to this day Donny’s “A Song for You” is one that makes me pause and get lost in the melody of it all. “A Song for You” has been covered by many singers over the years, including one of my favorite singers Betty Wright. But nobody sings the song like Donny; the way he hits the lows and soars into alto is one that stirs poetry into people’s souls. But for me, the song is more than just a melody; the meaning behind the words are just as poignant and profound for those who actually listen to what Donny is saying. Donny is telling us about his life story, his ups and his downs, as he lets music be his biography.
So this afternoon, I decided to venture over to Lalah’s YouTube channel to hear her music again. The first song that caught my attention was “Mirror”. For some reason I was drawn to that title–I clicked play and tuned out everything else. The apple did not fall far from the tree, Lalah was doing with “Mirror” what Donny was doing with “A Song for You”. She is speaking directly to her listeners and using her voice as one part testimony and equal part encouragement. Lalah is telling us all to not be undone by the way the world is at the moment and to push forward in spite tribulations.
Bitter hearts don’t hold a smile
Troubled minds will wear you down
Use your past to get ahead
Hold your tears and think instead
You have to find a way to make it
These clouds are letting up for awhile
Just as Donny Hathaway used his music to spread a gospel of love, Lalah is doing the same as she inspires through ballads and tunes. There is no denying the injustices of this world and the ways so many are undone by iniquities. Yet as we fight for better outcomes and strive for justice, it is an imperative that we seek and find happiness right in the middle of hardship. As Lalah sings through her song Mirror, “Love yourself, when no one else can”. There will not be peace on this earth unless there is peace within us, we can only love others when we first love ourselves.
This is the gift of music that is so abundant in this world. This is also why I love musicians like Lalah and her father Donny for they are able to connect souls universally by gathering us under the umbrella of love that is music. I really do believe that the only revolution that will actually work for us common folk and the revolution that will heal the world will be led by artists. Singers, painters, writers and dancers and those who love to create are the ones who can set us free from a world that is being hobbled by those who love to damage it.
This article is thus my song to you, the reader. Just as Donny Hathaway sang his hope to the world, I write my prayer to the world wide web and beyond. Let us find the mirror as Lalah beckons us to do and learn to face fully and love ourselves completely. In the end, let us find the music within us and let that music be how we mend the wounds of our nation and our planet. We can make a difference if we just listen to the music about us and realize that this world has an abundance for all of us if we only let the music of kindness be our north stars to redemption. Regardless find the poetry that is omnipresent; listen to the abundance of talent that flowed from Donny to Lalah and you will see that music is not an accident. #MirroringHathaway
“You must pass your days in song. Let your whole life be a song.” ~ Sai Baba
If you appreciate this write up and you too know that music is the elixir to the distresses of the world, share this article on social media using #MirroringHathaway and make sure you send a shout out to @lalahhathaway and tell her thank you for her music and mos def follow this DOPE brother @TheOrlandoJones
Check out the amazing song Mirror by Lalah Hathaway “Mirror”
Check out the legend Donny Hathaway as he sings one of my all time favorites “A Song for You”.
Check out the Ghion Cast below as I describe on video why I love music so and why music is a healing balm to the world.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.