Those who know me personally know that I absolutely adore Bilal Oliver. It’s been that way since I first heard “Soul Sista” back in 2001. (That video solidified my feelings!) In the years since that precious jewel dropped, Bilal has blessed us with 5 dope albums (including the leaked project, Love 4 Sale) and more features than we could ask for.
The brotha can sang. Period.
His new project, In Another Life, is magic and features productions by mad genius, Adrian Younge. Thus far, I can’t get over “Open Up the Door”. It’s a beautiful reminder to never forsake the tough times – after winter, comes spring.
If you need a musical pick me up, press the play button below.
William H. Johnson was a prolific painter whose career spanned decades. He moved to New York City at the age of 17 to study at the National Academy of Design. Afterwards he moved to France where he studied modernism. When he returned to the United States, Williams immersed himself in African American folk culture thus leading to a new exploration in his work.
Bright, bold, and eclectic – his work depicted the daily life of black folks in New York City. He was dedicated to the concept of “primitiveness” and tradition; and believed that a people’s connection to nature affected that people’s art, allowing cultural and spiritual elements to seep through. (Could Basquiat have been inspired by Johnson’s philosophy?)
Johnson died in 1970 after a long and debilitating fight with mental illness. He left behind over one thousand paintings that are now part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection.
“My aim is to express in a natural way what I feel, what is in me, both rhythmically and spiritually, all that which in time has been saved up in my family of primitiveness and tradition, and which is now concentrated in me.” – William H. Johnson
As the years roll by since his tragic assassination, we have seen gorgeous, poignant, and even light-hearted images of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We use these images, especially on his national holiday, to remember his efforts to dismantle the oppressive plight of black folks and humanity-at-large.
My favorite images of him are actually not photographs, but the works of the artist, John Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was a phenomenal draftsman and sculptor and his depictions of MLK are just a few of his most inspired works.
In 1986, Wilson was commissioned to create a 3-foot-tall, bronze bust of the legendary reverend and activist for the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.; and it is noted as being Wilson’s most viewed work. He also designed a large maquette of MLK that evokes the mysticism and power of a Mayan Olmec head.
Wilson passed away on January 22, 2015 at the age of 92, leaving behind a body of work that should be studied and respected for years to come. May he and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. continue to rest in eternal power and peace.