Kennedy Center: EWF; Sally; Linda; Sesame St; MTT

Field, Ronstadt, Tilson Thomas

The 42nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors will air Sunday, December 15 – earlier than usual – at 8 p.m. EST. CBS has broadcast the special each year since its debut. The event will take place on December 8. Earth, Wind & Fire; Sally Field; Linda Ronstadt; Sesame Street; and Michael Tilson Thomas will be celebrated.

Michael Tilson Thomas

Michael Tilson ThomasAmerican conductor, pianist and composer Michael Tilson Thomas is a familiar name. He is currently music director of the San Francisco Symphony, though he announced in 2017 that he would step down in 2020. He’s also “artistic director of the New World Symphony, an American orchestral academy based in Miami Beach, Florida.”

He has his own YouTube channel. NPR mentions him frequently. A 2019 article in Vulture describes him a “disrupter who’s become the comfortable center.”

Michael Tilson Thomas is the only one in this group that had not appeared in this blog before now.

Sally Field

I wrote an extensive post about Sally Field in November 2016 when she turned 70. I’d seen her in everything from Gidget to Sybil to Brothers and Sisters. And she’s still working.

Earth, Wind & Fire

Their introduction on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame page says it well. Earth, Wind & Fire “took jazz, soul, gospel, pop and more and wrapped them in one psychedelic, mystical package.” The band was founded in Chicago by the late Maurice White in 1969.

Rolling Stone offered up 12 essential songs. My personal favorite is Fantasy, as I explained. I own the box set of their music.

You might recognize the name Philip Bailey, the falsetto vocalist, who sang a duet with Phil Collins on Easy Lover.

Linda Ronstadt

My admiration for Linda is huge. For her sixtieth birthday, I explained why I bought her box set when I already owned so much of her music. I advocated that she be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was rightly inducted in 2014.

When she turned 70, I listed about three dozen of my favorite songs by her. I touted the documentary about her, which played at a local theater for months.

Sesame Street

I’ll admit it; I watched Sesame Street when I was in college, as I noted in 2011. The beloved children’s television show was shaped by the African-American communities in Harlem and beyond. Of course, I bought the 10th anniversary music album.

Farmers Insurance has been running a series of ads featuring the Muppets. Take a look at the website and the music of Sesame Street. The USPS to release stamps in honor of show’s 50th anniversary.

Since he won’t be at the event, I suppose I can share, from Business Insider back in 2017: “‘Sesame Street’ has been mocking Trump since 1988 — here are some of the best moments.”

Throwback Music Saturday: Fantasy

Fantasy is a song written and composed by Maurice White, his brother Verdine White, and Eddie del Barrio.

earthwindfireWhen I think of the song Fantasy by Earth, Wind, and Fire, I think of elementary school.

Oh, not mine. In March 1978, after over a year of being underemployed or unemployed after college, I was the newly hired bookkeeper for the Schenectady Arts Council’s program to do outreach in the local schools. It was funded by a program called the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. CETA was much maligned by critics, but it was great for me, part of the administrative staff, and a coterie of artists: sculptors, actors, painters, a photographer, a book author/illustrator duo, and a choreographer, who I’ll call Darlene.

Darlene was more classically trained, but disco was all the rage, so much of what she taught in the schools were more popularly oriented. And to teach this, she needed a partner. Foolishly, I thought, she hornswoggledconvinced me to go with her to the various elementary schools.

I wouldn’t say I was good at this, but I did get to be less bad over time. The program sent out evaluations to the schools afterwards. Since I wasn’t an artist, I didn’t get evaluated, but one of the kind teachers mentioned me positively.

One of the pieces Darlene put together was set to the tune Fantasy by EW&F. But it wasn’t the version I had heard on the radio. Rather it was a take that reprises the slow section from the beginning of the song. That iteration was was from the 1977 album All ‘n All, which got up to #3 on the US album charts and sold triple platinum.

Fantasy is a song written and composed by Maurice White, his brother Verdine White, and Eddie del Barrio. It became an international hit. While the single only went to #32 in the US pop charts, and #12 on the soul charts, it reached #25 in Australia, #14 in the UK, and #6 in Sweden.

Unfortunately, the founder of Earth, Wind and Fire, Maurice White died on February 3 at the age of 74, from Parkinson’s Disease. (he is second from the right in the photo.)


Fantasy (album version) here or here

Fantasy (single version) here or here

Chuck Miller’s great post- Earth, Wind, and Fire: I’ll Write a Song For You.

Maurice White, RIP, played drums on Summertime by Billy Stewart, as Dustbury notes.

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