100 Things I Love About Montreal: Underground

Reader, As the saying goes, I’ve saved the Best for last. My visit to Underground Montreal took place on my last full day in the Beautiful city.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I had read the promo pamphlets during my first days in the Beautiful city, but avoided going into any of the numerous doors throughout downtown Montreal marked Underground.

I wanted to devote an entire day to this experience. Having visited the likes of U.S underground cities in ATL, Albany, NY and Crystal City, VA the prospect of seeing the world’s largest known subterranean complex was something I wanted to savor.

Montreal’s Underground was built to accommodate residents and visitors during the harsh winter months with its significant snowfalls and cold temperatures.

Multiple shopping strips and office blocks are connected by walkways and rail. Numerous entry points can be found at ground level and via Metro stations.

The temperature on my last full day in Beautiful city was nearing the Hades point. For some reason, mother nature (or the global warming gods) had  decided to backdrop the second week of the Jazz festival with a once in 60 years heat wave.

By noon, the temperature was an earth scorching 95 degrees. I put on my scantiest travel garments and headed for the Underground.

When I descended the curved staircase near the Marriott on Rue Peele, I literally heard birds singing and harps playing. Actually, it was the thrilling sounds of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from a pair of Street musicians that greeted me as I descended the clean, shiny,  polished stairs.

I was speechless. In front of me stretched miles of shops, businesses, Eateries, did I say Eateries, all within a well lit, air conditioned, cheery, clean, dang near sparkling version of Oz.

Words failed to capture the feeling I had as I glided down the corridors of Undergound Montreal.

So Reader, I will put away my Thesaurus and let your eyes feast on a few of  the wonderful sights of Underground Montreal…Voila…

Are you booking your airfare? Amtrak? Greyhound? yet…See you there in September!

Love and Light.   Comments always welcomed and don’t forget to

 

100 Things I Love About Montreal pt. 4/5…The People!!!

 

Reader, or soon to be Traveler to Montreal, of all the things I loved about our Neighbor to the North, the people literally ran away with my Heart.  Warm, Smiling, Vivacious, Joyous, Happy, Delighted, Merry…they were all that and a bag of chips…(African American slang for Fantastic).

Standing on a street corner…la rue.. looking at the signs..le metro, la bouche de metro, l’arret de bus… trying to decide if I’m going left/right/ Sideways…oh no, that’s a movie…Pardon, Miss do you need directions?

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Checking into the Residence Inn, tired, sweaty, in need of food/shower/a bed… after an unexpected 12 hour bumpy what-happened-to-the-Express Amtrak train ride...

Oh Miss Linda do not worry, Everything is ready for you…your requested lower floor room, one key or two, do you have bags, Ah you are traveling light. Would you like  a bottle of  cool water. And Welcome to.. .L’hotel de Marriott!

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Welcome to the Marriott! Special Thanks to Sylvain, Veronique, Nick and Karine! You represent Marriott proudly!

H&M, Simon, Aveeda, Ecco, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Everything for 9.99 and More…High end and low retail grace the streets of Downtown Montreal…like a virtual shopper’s Paradise.  Let the Retail Therapy Begin!

Saleswomen/ men greet you first with a smile and cheerful Bonjour. And if they see the dreaded stranger-in-strange land look, the greeting instantly turns into Hello! How can I help you? Crisis averted.

Pretty, thin, polymer yellowish green CAD$ in Hand... Wait, You mean if I give you $100 US dollars, you will give me $125 Canadian dollars back.  Where do I sign? And don’t worry plastic users  Visa/ Mastercard/AMEX wherever you see the Plus sign are accepted in Canada too.

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Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?… petite dejeuner, No problem….Interwoven into Downtown Montreal are numerous restaurants many with beautiful  flower decked outdoor cafes, offering a veritable smorsgabord of food from around the world and their own hometown specialties…

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All Foodies know, the best food is where the locals go. In search of lunch on my second day, I heard the roar of the crowd literally coming from a small nondescript building.  When I peered inside I saw the  quaint tiny restaurant was packed to the gills with Citizens/Visitors all gazing at the overhead screen cheering on their favorite World Cup team. 

Bingo!  I was seated at a small table next to a larger one that seemed to be occupied by an entire family.  Their bowls of soupe and chicken salade sat untouched as they gazed reverently, intently at the players on the screen.

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One night after a heady jazz filled, dancing-at-the front-of the-stage kinda night, I took the 5 minute Metro ride back to my hotel.  It was close to midnight, and the cool night air beckoned me to linger outside and enjoy more of Montreal. I passed by an outdoor café near the hotel.

The menu was intriguing  but I was in search of a glass of wine to top off my evening.  When I sat at one of the very French curbside tables, a neatly dressed server immediately appeared and greeted me with a tall glass of perfectly chilled clear water. When I asked about the wine list, she said there was none but what wine did I want. Rose, I replied.  Glass or bottle?  she smiled. I smiled back…. A glass or two.  She returned with a goblet filled with a generous pour of the most heavenly rose.

 

By day 3, I was convinced Le Gouvernement had issued an edict to all Montreal Citizens to be extra friendly, kind, helpful, courteous, cordial to any guest who was visiting their beautiful province.  But NO such edict had been issued.  It is just their natural, humanity conscious way… our neighbors to the North. People matter. All People.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Immigrants: Haitians, Africans, Asians, Latinos, Middle Easterners, and more. all co exist peacefully and happily.  Eyad, a smiling taxi driver from Pakistan who took me on my final ride through the streets of Montreal said he and his family absolutely loved living there. And, of course, they missed their original home, but  Montreal is were they want to be.

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The LGBT community proudly displays its rainbow flag at the entrance to their community. Confused by this at first( me and a handful of liberal passengers looked questioningly…What? Are they on display.. When the double decker tour bus driver quickly announced Le Village Gai was a renowned place. And that Montreal is one of the few cities in the world to thoroughly embrace their LGBT communities. Smiles. Sighs. Nodding heads…Click click of  camera followed. Rebellion Against the MAn averted.

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I will leave you with a few  more pictures of the People of Montreal.  Please enjoy them as I have. And don’t forget the most picturesque Fall leaves can be seen on the roads leading to Montreal. Who knows I may see you there…September borne.

Love and Light.  Merci Beaucoup. And as Always, Please feel free to Comment/Share and Follow… My Blog

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Sabrina Cosmetic genius
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Apple Store Guru
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Street musicians
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The cell phone charging station ladies
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Girls Nite out at the Jazz Festival
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Even Mickey Ds was there
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At the Canada Greyhound, I complimented Cynthia’s earrings and she  gave them to me…just because!
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Bonjour! and Bon Soir! . (Final segment: Underground Montreal next week)

 

 

 

 

100 Things I Love About Montreal: Environmentally Friendly Pt 3

IMG_2017Over the years, I have read about our Canadian neighbor’s concern about global warming..It is a thang…Mr. Twitter... overuse of natural resources, free health care, food markets not food deserts, people first…Vive la difference!

The pictures that follow depict a society where All Lives truly Do Matter. It is evident in the laser focused Street Cleaners who keep Downtown Montreal spotless, the recycling receptacles on every corner,( including one for your old electronic devices), the familiar BELL telephone sign above the strategically placed Clean telephone booths…No, Virginia everyone does not have a iPhone… The 10 cents charge for a bag in a store, the no straws policy, the no smoking in front of a building , the Clean, Clean air and Happy, Friendly People (more on them in the Next Post).

The Free cell phone charger machines are a godsend for those who have cell phones…. like my trusty iPhone that suffered a relapse and needed a constant battery charge upon crossing the Border, and even had the audacity to die en route to the Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith set ( I had drank the kool aid and not printed out my $50 ticket, trusting my phone would do what it was supposed to do).  This resulted  in a good old fashioned American begging  session with a young clerk in a nearby Bookstore who graciously offered his personal charger to solve my problem…Mais oui, Madame..(spell check keeps changing my French words!(

These free chargers (various space age designs) can be found at many public places, colleges, and of course the Jazz Festival tent- manned by a smiling, vivacious newly arrived Brussels native and her co-worker from Eritrea who upon finding that the “charger”machine was full, offered her Own  personal charger (another Personne sympathique) to give my iPhone a boost. Thus ensuring that I could communicate with Someone, Anyone that night while at the Venue.

I could go on and on…but I will let the photos do the talking. Bon Soir!

PS…have you booked your ticket yet? I understand the foliage in the Fall is breathtakingly awesome!

As Always, thanks for Reading! Comments/Shares/Follows Welcomed.

Love and Light!

 

 

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised… Or Posted on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook

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WE interrupt this broadcast to bring you an important message!

The Revolution will NOT be televised

or posted on Instagram

or Facebook

or snap chat

or twitter.

Brother Gil Scott sounded the alarm

Malcolm and Martin were already gone

Huey and Fred and countless unnamed Panthers have led the charge

For  dignity

community

free food

brotherhood /sisterhood

A Voice

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

The Community of Brothers Behind Bars

serving time

for victimless crimes

must be freed

Instituitions of Higher Learning

must replace crack dens,

measuring grams,

driving while black,

killing of our boys and men

Wake up! Wake up!

Social media is not real

it is a Medium

designed by the 10percent

for control of the 90

Anesthetizing Our Youth

Dulling Their Brilliant Minds

Gaming Gaming does Not Rule

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

We have already lost too much Time

Vietnam /PTSD /Homelessness /Brother can you spare me a Dime

Visiting your baby daddy in Lockup has become a Thing

Abusing your Queen has become a Thing

Shooting Sperm in Many Women has become a new sport

fatherless children the result

Wake Up !Wake Up!

We Need You

You are the hope

the light

the Original rib

To get to the Future

We Have to Look to the Past

WE Were the kings /the pyramid builders/ the mathematicians/the blood transfusion inventor

…the doctors…the lawyers

And Soldiers who helped SAVE our Native American chiefs

Do you know Your History /Her Story ?

Anthony Benjamin Tyrone Rashad Khalif Isaiah Testimony Derrick Jason Sean…

You are the fruit we have borne

Do not ripen on the Vine

Countless numbers are Already Gone

YOU are OUR Future

Our Kings /Warriors /Griots /Musicians

Rulers of  Obama Nation

The REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED

But Will Be Brought To you

Live and …In LIVING COLOR .

Hey, leave me a brief comment and forward this on to 1 Brother you know…let’s get this party uh Revolution started..right?

(100 things I ❤️ About Montreal will continue next week)

As Always,Thank you for reading my Words and please feel free to Comment/Share/ Follow … just like you did in Kindergarten 😌

Love and Light!

💯 Things I❤️About Montreal…

Bonjour Mes Ami! (French spell check app not working)

As some of you astute, eagle eyed Readers discovered, my July adventure found me in none other than the Exquisite Jewel of a Neighbor north of us Montreal, Canada!

My raison d’etre or reason for traveling in the heat wave of 2018 to this glorious, heaven on earth, 6 hours from NY, respite from twitterization of the US government ( did I say that…please don’t detain me at the Border …. City can be summed up in one word :JAZZ!

However, Little did this starry eyed music seeking, Foodie searching, Adventurer know that she would discover some of the world’s finest jazz and so, so much more!

Five days was hardly enough time to capture the richness and beautifulness (not a word) of this gentle, world class, forward thinking/acting home to champions of all men/women!

Lest, I start sounding like a commercial, I will let the pictures and a few words that follow tell this Tale.

Set your pilot on automatic ( Flyboy, Welcome Home And Thank You for Your Service!) and Readers enjoy the ride.

As always, feel free to comment/share/ click follow/ send cash…hell iola, I’m broke now!

(Note: This post will continue over a few weeks of the summer until I have posted all the 💯 reasons. My use of The French language is gratuitous and in no way reflects on the  years of study at Jacox  Jr High; Maury High, Los Angeles City College and Big Blue ODU.

Dang, all that and she still can’t hold a conversation beyond bonjour, merci, Bien, Bon! Mais oui, Voulez vous…What Patti LaBelle sang…

IT ALL STARTED WITH A PHONE CALL Guest Post by Bill Griggs

Ms. Brown, this is Bill Griggs from the Portsmouth Notables Occasion.  That is how our nearly 20 year friendship started in 1987.  You are the only singer on the dais.  Would you like to sing a song for the event?  Baby, Ruth said, I’d be happy to.

Little did I know, that I had called at one of the low, transitional points in her career.  In 1986, she had returned from Paris where she was performing in Black and Blue which would not be a hit on Broadway until January 1988.  She had closed an off Broadway show called Stagger Lee which led to her role as Motor Mouth Mabel in the film Hairspray.  The film at this time was yet to be released.  And her dear compatriot, Howell Begel was helping Ruth fight Atlantic Records for her long overdue payments on recordings not only for Ruth, but for all of Atlantic artists.

At this point, she had four eyes on the stove setting on simmer.  Later Ruth said that receiving the Notable Award from Portsmouth was the fuel that helped to fan the flame on her simmering projects.

After the Notables was over, Ruth and I stayed in touch by phone on a regular basis.  We enjoyed chatting about her latest performances and upcoming events or just talking about family.

She always asked, Baby, what’s going on back home?  We began meeting wherever she was playing: On Broadway at the Blue Note, at Wolf Trap and once at the Cinegrill in Hollywood.  There I arrived without her knowledge.  She spotted me in the second row, stopped the band and introduced me to the audience. With Ruth, I shared many great moments. I want to share with you, a few of them over the years.

The Palms

In January 2002, I asked Ruth to dinner at the Palms Hotel in Vegas.  This would be her first venture into the public after spending over a year and a half learning how to speak again.  Ruth said she would be there and that her son and manager Earl would bring her to the hotel. We agreed to meet at the entrance at 7 pm.  When my good friend Claus Ihlemann and I arrived at the front entrance there she was, draped in a black cape with fur.  She looked stunning.  There was the queen of rhythm and blues sitting at the slot machine in the center of the main entrance.  We had a wonderful dinner at the top of the Palms.  The patrons who came by the table to wish her well was an early birthday present to Ruth.

Caesar’s Palace at Terrazzo

In February of 2004, I once again found myself in Vegas on business.  Again, I called Ruth and asked her to join us for dinner at the restaurant of her choice.  She chose Terrazzo’s at Caesar’s Palace.  Ruth told me of a great pianist named Galeebe Galab who played at the lounge there.  I met Galeebe the day prior to the dinner and we arranged for a private table in the restaurant behind Galeebe’s lounge.  After another two hour dinner, Ernie Warinner and I escorted Ruth to the lounge, coming in the back behind the audience.  As we reached the half way point to our table in the back, Galeebe announced: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Queen of Rhythm and Blues, Ms. Ruth Brown.  All of a sudden, a surge of strength came over Ruth and she headed to the stage.  She sat at the edge of Galeebe’s piano bench and began to sing lyrics to the blues riff that he was playing.  For four minutes she glowed and sang.  There was not one hint that she was recovering from a stroke.  When she brought the song to a close she said, I don’t know what I just sang, but they call it The Blues.  The audience rose in applause.

In the fall of 2003, Lightning in a Bottle, a film about the makers of the Blues had just been filmed at Radio City Music Hall.  Director, Martin Scorcese was very pleased with the success of the film and wanted Ruth to front a show of the fellow blues artists for a 40 city bus tour of the US.  She was thrilled.  A few months later, I asked how the tour was.  She said, Oh baby, we didn’t go.  With the ages and the conditions of all of us, Martin found out it would take too long to load and unload the bus!

I called Ruth in mid 2004 to check on her.  She was happy and sounded terrific.  Guess what, she said, Ray called me.  He said Ruth they are making a film of my life and you are in it.  I am!  Well, honey, I want Holly Berry to play me, Ruth replied.  Ray was quick on the uptake, Ruth I’m blind, but I’m not that blind.

In the fall of 2004, I called Ruth with some good news.  WHRO and the Virginia Arts Festival want you to appear at the restored Attucks Theatre in Norfolk.  Oh Baby, that’s where Daddy pulled me off the stage.  I’ll be there.

Ruth is there anything you want?  Baby, there are only two things I don’t have.  You know B.B.’s got a blues festival named after him.  I would love to have the Ruth Brown Rhythm and Blues Festival.  What’s the other, I asked.  One day a club called Ruth’s Place.  Well, I replied, we can do a test run at the Attucks.  That night at the Attucks was magic.  A cameo moment as her fan Cabot Wilson called it.

I don’t have my friend to call anymore.  I do have her number.  She was honesty, sincerity, wisdom and determination.  R not only stands for Ruth, It stands for Resilient. She endured all the hardships of life, yet she rose to the top of it all.  Racism and segregation.  Poverty and constant leg pain.  Rejection and thievery.  There is no wonder she sang the blues as only she could.  The tears in her voice, the wailing of pain were her trademarks.  Trademarks of a life that only the power of Faith, Family and the adulation, applause and never failing acceptance of an audience could heal.

I know that today you are walking all over God’s Heaven, free of pain and as light in flight as the Butterflies that you loved.  When I hear the Robin sing and his voice begins to wail, I know you are singing just for me.  Know that you will always be in my heart.  Ruth, thank you for your song.

 

A TRIBUTE TO RUTH BROWN, MISS RHYTHM (1/12/28-11/17/06)

Readers, Windows 10 has struck again… and this time don’ run off with some of my saved documents!

Fortunately, I had a hard copy of my original post on Ruth Brown, but the guest post by Bill Griggs, local Renaissance man who knew and loved Miss B fiercely, along with comments from her long time Band member/friend the famed New York saxophonist Bill Easley is MIA.

Many of you who follow my posts know of my affinity for Music.  I am a listener/sing alonger/lover of all kinds of music especially Jazz, soulful R&B, Blues, Hip hop, Country… did she say Country… Yes. Country. Especially folk like  Sugarland, Brad Paisley, Zac Brown Band, Rascal Flats, Reba, Bonnie Raitt, Darius Rucker and even some Rap… T.Payne’s It’s a Circus, The Notorious B.I.G (my road song thanks to JoanG), Mos Def (did you know he has left the country?), Common, and on quieter, reflective occasions straight-ahead-jazz (thanks Dad) and classical including my extremely talented cello/guitar/ piano playing grandson Khalif, Regina Carter, and  Vivaldi, to name a very few .

My favorite music, of course, playing as I write, on my ipod (used to be CDs), are the renderings of various bluesy, jazzy, soulful Male and Female crooners, the latter ranging from Bettye Lavette, Phyllis Hyman, Ledisi, Oleta, Rachelle, Farrell, Fantasia, Nina, Billie and of course, Miss Rhythm herself, Ruth Brown.

When I was a pigtail and bang, crinoline slip, black patent leather shoe wearing puff of innocence living in Norfolk, just across the river in Portsmouth, hometown phenom, Ruth Brown aka  Miss Rhythm was making a name for herself in the world of music. That bluesy, “torchy, church and jazz schooled voice” that helped build  Atlantic Records in the 50s to the music giant it would later become had her start singing in church and later won a contest at Harlem’s Apollo Theater that propelled her to become winner of a Tony, Grammy ( 1990, 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award), W.C. Handy, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee during her long career.

Little did I know skipping up and down the streets of Victory Manor that one day some 50 years later our paths would cross and this musical wonder would leave a lasting impact on my life/heart.

Ruth Brown became the voice of Atlantic Records making chart topping hits like So Long, Tear Drops in Her Eyes, and (Mama) He Treats your Daughter Mean.  Her more than two dozen hits, including Blues, R& B and later Rock and Roll, turned AR into a  record giant and  it was dubbed The House that Ruth Built. Her relationship with AR ended in 1961 following contract disputes when like so many black artists, Ruth discovered she was not being fairly compensated for the hits she was making.

Undaunted, Ruth Brown reinvented herself in the 70s and began recording blues and jazz again.  She won a Tony for her role in Broadway’s Black and Blue.  And had a starring role in the film Hairspray where she played the feisty DJ. She also showcased her hosting talents on two NPR shows, all the while continuing to perform at concerts and nightclubs in the U.S and overseas to throngs of adoring fans.

It was during the resurgence of her career in the early 2000s that I met the famed Miss Ruth Brown.  At 77, she was preparing a return to the newly renovated Norfolk Attucks Theater (where she had performed at age 16 without her father’s knowledge).  A friend at local Public Television station, WHRO, told me that a California director was looking for a local person to assist with research for a documentary  on Miss Brown’s life.  I quickly contacted Him and offered my services, and for the next few months was launched into a worldwind of activity researching the life of Ruth Brown from a variety of local sources.

I spent hours searching dusty files tucked away in the rich archives of the Portsmouth Public library (thank you Mae H.) and the microfilm viewers at the Norfolk Public library,  hunting down pictures, newspaper articles, memorabilia, anything I could find on this Portsmouth native. Thanks to archivist at NSU library, I was able to obtain black and white photos from the 60s taken of Ruth Brown and radio personality Jack Holmes at a local event. I even stumbled across a beautiful 8×10 of her, at of all places, the Portsmouth Naval Museum…who knew? One of her most ardent fans (and high school sweetheart) even had a delicate, crumbling autographed B&W photo of her taken at Sunset Lake Park (remember that spot) hanging on his Portsmouth garage wall!

For weeks, I worked the phones talking to people who knew Ruth Brown, folks from her teenage days at Norcom High School who included the likes of Mayor Holley, Councilman  Whitehust, former School Supt. Horace Savage, jazz player Johnny Day, and distinguished, retired  Mr. Sanford (a former RB suitor) and a host of other likeable, gracefully aging seniors who all had fond memories of  Miss Brown. We made arrangements to have a surprise ‘class reunion’ backstage after the performance at the Attucks.

After immersing myself in all things Ruth Brown, I finally met the great lady as she rehearsed with her band a few days prior to the Attucks performance.  Don, the producer, introduced us and she graciously greeted me like I was an old friend.  She was delighted to learn I was a ‘hometown’ girl and invited me  to join her backstage on the night of the performance. It was at that time, I also met Bill Easley, her long time  NY friend, band member and sax player extraordinaire whose resume included recording with the likes of Issac Hayes, George Benson, Jimmy McGriff and other jazz greats including Ruth Brown. Our friendship continues today bonded by the initial connection to Miss B.

Despite needing a cane for support (she had injured her knees in a car crash years ago), Ruth Brown was still a fireball of energy, had an infectious smile, sophisticated style, and a voice that filled the 600 seat auditorium of the Attucks Theater.

On the night of her performance, I was busy greeting the ‘class reunion’ members and getting them seated, shopping for flowers for her dressing room, ‘rehearsing’ the presentation by her classmate that would follow Portsmouth Mayor Holley and Norfolk Vice Mayor Hester’s presentation of her cake, and overall just trying to be helpful to the staff of the Attucks.

When Miss Brown came backstage, her Assistant asked me if I would sit with her while she was waiting to go on.  I was both floored and honored and quickly pulled up a chair next to the exquisitely gowned Miss B. We held hands tightly and talked quietly as she ‘calmed herself’ for this ‘debut back in front’ of her hometown some 50 years after she had ‘left town’. When the band played her intro, she released my hand and said, “Honey, I got this…I’m walking out there on my own.”  She squeezed my hand and in true Ruth Brown style gracefully glided onto the stage.

The next time I saw Ruth Brown was about a month later when I traveled through the snow to join Director Don and his friends at a New York nightclub, Le Jazz Au Bar, where Miss Brown was performing. When we went backstage to greet her, she noticed me standing off from the group and said, “There’s my hometown girl, what you doing up here in the big city?” We both laughed and warmly embraced and spent some time catching up on Portsmouth goings on.

Sadly, almost a year later, following a stroke and heart attack while living/performing in Nevada, Ruth Brown’s light was extinguished. I along with hundreds of others attended her funeral services at Willet Hall in her beloved Portsmouth where she had returned on many previous occasions to see a street named in her honor, a scholarship established in her name; a star placed on Granby Street; and a parade and banquet recognizing her as a Notable.

Although, I only knew her a short time, this sassy, blues, R&B and Rock and Roll lady will always be in my heart and music collection! She was a survivor who  like my muse writer Zora Neale Hurston overcame challenges of  racism, sexism, and health to realize her dream.

And to my friends Bill Griggs and Bill Easley, if you are reading this, I am sure the Readers would love to hear from you!

Stay tuned and as always….thanks for reading!