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January 22, 1997 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-22

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January 22, 1997

Sounds of Blackness wraps up MLK Day

By Eg"*. Bowen
Daily Ats Writer
To those in Hill Auditorium on
Monday night old enough to remember,
it was like being sucked back in time to
the Power Center on Martin Luther Kin
Jr. Day '95. To those for who have never
received a Sounds
of Blackness expe- R
rience, it was a
night of unforget-
table song and spir-


Closing the
main part of the
1997 MLK Day celebrations, "Music
for Martin" was everything this year
that it was two years ago - and then
Opening the night of celebration
was the University Gospel Chorale.
With 65 plus members, the University
choir - decked in their traditional
blue robes with Kente cloth trim -
brought the house down with their
musical journey down the path of
African American history, beginning
with the spirituals of the African
As songs like "Swing Low Sweet
Chariot" rang out, some choir mem-

bers quietly acted out the lifelong suf-
fering of slaves. It was of great signif-
icance that African American
University students - future engi-
neers, executives and other American
leaders - lived for just a short while
the lives of their ancestors - people
who weren't seen
E V I E W as people and who
risked their lives
Sounds of just to learn to
Blackness read.
Hill Auditorium Members' per-
Jan. 20,1997 formance of songs
like "Freedom
over Me" and the famed "We Shall
Overcome," and the lively and ener-
gizing choreography proved the
University Gospel Chorale to be one
the University's premier ensembles.
They demonstrated that they don't
need a Grammy award to show how
amazingly entertaining their presenta-
tions can be.
But of course, a Grammy couldn't
hurt. And with one such award under
their belts, the nine-singer traveling
ensemble of the Sounds of Blackness
took center stage to bring their unique
style of educational, spiritual, uplifting
music to a hungry Hill Auditorium

Opening with the heavily African-
influenced "Harambee," from their
debut album, "Evolution of Gospel,"
Sounds of Blackness came ready to
please. Following with their most well-
known song, "Optimistic," and then
with "I Believe," a highly popular song
from the group's third release, "Africa
to America: Journey of the Drum,"
Sounds of Blackness sang of an African
American hope for a better life and
faith that some day freedom will ring
for all people.
But all was not just upbeat.
Trumpeter Larry Sims brought tears to
the eyes of some as he instrumentalized
MLK's favorite song, "Precious Lord."
"God Cares" was a most uplifting song
whose instrumentation took the audi-
ence on a soul-searching ride, and the
R&B-flavored testimonial "Love Will
Never Change" was equally unforget-
The aptly named "Crisis" chronicled
both the suffering that black Americans
have felt and the sadness that is still
forthcoming. Its refrain said it all:
"We're in a crisis / Can we fight to sur-
vive? / Hold on my brother / Sister don't

Sounds of Blackness, also per-
formed a remake of the O'Jays hit
"Love Train," and they gave their
debut performance of "Spirit," : the
first single from their forthcoming
album, "Time for Healing." It is set
for release in March.
The inherent beauty of a Sounds of
Blackness concert is the variety of
African American musical genres pack-
aged together. From R&B to calypso to
rap to gospel to reggae, Sounds of
Blackness truly offered a varied menu
of ... sounds of blackness.
The 10th annual University celebra-
tion of MLK's life and legacy came to a
brilliant close, thanks to the combined
efforts of a spirited Gospel 'Chorale and
Sounds of Blackness.
"Music for Martin" was a musical
salute to everyone - Sojourner
Truth, Malcolm X, Barbara Jordan,
James Baldwin, Mahatma Gandhi,
Cesar Chavez, Medgar Evers,
Harriett Tubman and the many
unknown slaves, sharecroppers, pro-
testers and civil rights martyrs -
who stand as symbols of strength,
courage and determination against
impossible odds of hatred, bigotry
and apathy.

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Sounds of Blackness tour group performed at Hill Auditorium on Monday.
Bush bores with new releast

By Sarah Beldo
For the Daily
Who can resist a cabinet full of odd-
ities? A museum of the unusual? Who
hasn't, at one time in their life, read
"Ripley's Believe It Or Not" in the
comics section of the Sunday paper and
found themselves
swinging like a R
pendulum between
"believe it" and
L a w r en c e
Weschler delves
into this interplay
between the strange-but-true and the
so-strange-it-can't-possibly-be-true in
his latest book, "Mr. Wilson's Cabinet
of Wonder" which was a finalist for the
Pulitzer Prize in the category of
General Nonfiction. Weschler read
excerpts from his book to an enchanted
audience at Shaman Drum on Monday
The book is a magical, celebratory
tour through the Museum of Jurassic
Technology in Los Angeles - a
Natural History museum that definitely
explores the underbelly of science that
most museums dare not touch. The
museum proudly displays such exhibits
as a horn that is said to have grown on
the head of a woman, the eye of a nee-
dIe containing a sculpture of the Pope
meticulously woven from thread, and a
display encouraging sick children to
inhale duck's breath.
David Wilson, the curator of the
museum, details the origin and meaning
of each of his displays with the same
matter-of-fact earnestness as any narra-
tor of a PBS nature special, making it
difficult for Weschler, and us, to disbe-


lieve. But really. Duck's breath? How
can any of this be true?
In his narrative, Weschler combines a
sense of wonder with a healthy dose of
journalistic doubt. The first section of
"Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder"
describes and traces the history of the
museum itself; the
V I E W second section is
an exploration of
Lawrence similar museums
Weschler and of the human
Shaman Drum capacity to marvel;
Jan.20,1997 the third section is
given over to
Weschler's footnotes, elaborate tan-
gents into the weird that make the book
itself into a sort of "cabinet of wonder"
In addition, it causes us to question our
beliefs in other areas of science. How
odd are dinosaur bones, really? Does
inclusion in a museum necessarily
equal scientific validity?
On Monday night, Weschler read
from the highly amusing opening pages
of the book, describing his first visit to
Mr. Wilson's museum. He read with an
inflection of just the right amount of
irony, punctuating the reading by rais-
ing his eyebrows and shaking his head
during the descriptions of some of the
more fantastic exhibits. It seemed that
Weschler still had a hard time believing
what he is reading.
This is only the latest in a series of
books that Weschler has been writing
about people who are seized, some-
time during the course of their lives,
with revelations that cause them to
ditch normality and follow a bizarre
dream. During the question-and-
answer period, Weschler was asked
about what would make a man like

Razorblade Suitcase
With Bush's second release, the grat-
ing and caustic "Razorblade Suitcase,"
the British grunge band continued its
bottom-dwelling trend of feeding off
alternative bile and churned out anoth-
er batch of vexatious Nirvana-imitating
This time around, Bush's aspiration
to be the Nirvana substitute goes far
beyond the grating power chords and
bogus angst that littered their multi-
platinum debut "Sixteen Stone." For
"Razorblade Suitcase," Bush hired
indie-noise producer Steve Albini, who
coincidentally also recorded "In Utero,"
Nirvana's final studio record. Albini's
trademark drum sound and raucous
guitars are prevalent throughout
"Razorblade Suitcase;" giving it a simi-
lar, yet also very different feel from the
Nirvana record.
The Nirvana connection goes on and
on: From the songs about suicide, pain
and drugs sung by Gavin Rossdale's
irritating moan to the heavy use of
crosses and religion in the video from
the first single, "Swallowed," just like
Nirvana's first "In Utero" single,
"Heart-Shaped Box." To top it off, in
the liner notes, Rossdale thanks
"Courtney," most likely Cobain's
widow, Courtney Love, who Rossdale
has befriended since Cobain's suicide.
But the Nirvana connection ends

trollable production of the record,Bush-
falls quite short of Nirvana's groi~hd-
breaking music. From the noisy noth-
ingness of the album's opener
"Personal Holloway" to the terrible
drone of the last track "Distant Voices,"
"Razorblade Suitace" bores, frustrates
and aggravates. Most of the recc
melds together in an indistinguishabe
pile of sludge with little melody and
few catchy riffs.
"Swallowed" is one of the few excep-
tions, as one of the more enjoyable
Bush songs to date. Rossdale's overdia-
matic crooning fits well with the whiny
guitar and melody of the song, but nev-
ertheless, good sludge is still sludge.
But after the brief "Swallowed" oasis,
"Razorblade Suitcase" falls back to "
neverending drone with the noisy, '
Utero" inspired "Insect Kin" and "A
Tendency to Start Fires."
Rossdale's solo spotlight "Straight
No Chaser" will please all - the
"Glycerine" fans, but again the album
regresses back to its monotonous drone
immediately with "History" in which
Rossdale sings, "I'm always a little
late," and "Piss on my grave;' two of
the more intelligent, or at least sensiv
lyrics on the record.
Even with Bush's meager attempts to
be Nirvana, something tells me the
world won't be lucky enough to have
Rossdale emulate Cobain's demise. Just
to be safe, you might want to keep him
away from the shotgun. Then again, you
might not.
- Brian A. Gnatt
See RECORDS, Page 10

Lawrence Weschler reads at Shaman Drum on Monday. JENNIFER BRADLEY-SWI FT/Daily

Mr. Wilson devote his life to a muse-
um that straddles the line between sci-
ence and fantasy.
"Look at me! I was a serious writer.
What happened to me?" Weschler shot
back, adding that he teaches a class in
"The Fiction of Non-fiction,' and that
every good journalist realizes the half-

fiction in what he writes.
Weschler maintains a high respect
for the subjects of his books. "I try to
stay open to weird subjects,' he .;aid.
And, still shaking his head in amaze-
ment, he added, "I guess I think Mr.
Wilson is some kind of saint, in a

Bush looks pretty for the camera.


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Alterations included Wed. & Thur. and Fri. Alterations at cost Sat. only.

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