Album-cover artist Pedro Bell, the prophetic penman of P-Funk liner notes, satirical satyr of South Side Chicago, and one of my personal heroes, has been enduring health and money problems for years. We need to show him some love.
He was a French Jesuit priest who traveled to “New France” (Canada) in 1625 to convert the natives to Christianity. In 1626, Brébeuf went to live amongst the Huron tribes of the Great Lakes region.
He learned to speak their language.
Called back to France in 1629, Brébeuf returned to Huron country five years later with a few associates, determined to continue his missionary work.
Things did not go smoothly. It wasn’t until 1637 that Father Brébeuf made his first convert. But by 1647, thousands of Indians had accepted baptism into the Catholic faith.
Meanwhile, Brébeuf wrote extensively about the culture of the Hurons. It was he who gave the name “lacrosse” to the traditional Amerindian field sport. Brébeuf also developed the Wyandot language into a written form.
And so this gutsy French priest wrote “Jesous Ahatonhia” around 1642 – using his own literation – and taught the song to the Indians.
If you’d like to hear it, click here. Canadian folksinger Alan Mills recorded “The Huron Christmas Carol” in 1960, singing the first verse in Wyandot, repeating it in French, then singing the whole song in English.
POSTSCRIPT: The story ended very badly for Father Brébeuf... and the Huron Indians. Iroquois attackers from the south laid waste to Huron villages in 1649, ultimately displacing the entire Huron nation. Brébeuf and another priest were captured, tortured and killed.
The invading Iroquois possessed an ironic advantage. They’d acquired muskets from the Dutch, who offered them in exchange for furs. France also provided guns to the Hurons for their defense... but the Jesuit priests insisted that only Christian Indians get guns.
With half of the Hurons Christianized and the other half still “heathen,” the Huron tribes were outgunned by the Iroquois four to one.
The Catholic Church canonized Brébeuf (and other “North American Martyrs”) in 1930. St. Jean de Brébeuf, Apostle to the Hurons, is now the patron saint of Canada.
The upcoming sci-fi thriller “Repo Men” has nothing to do with the ’80s cult classic “Repo Man.” And that’s too bad.
With Jude Law, Forest Whitaker and Liev Schreiber, “Repo Men” apparently squanders more high-grade acting talent than any movie I can think of.
Seriously, scroll down and check out the widescreen trailer at the bottom of this page. Then explain to me why “Repo Men” doesn’t star John Cena, DMX and Dane Cook.
(The gory trailer is rated R, so you must type in a birth date to view it.)
This movie was shot in 2007. It’s due to be released in April 2010. Don’t know why it’s been sitting on a shelf so long. Maybe “Repo Men” was rushed into production in the first place because of the looming writers’ strike. Oh well.
Oh snap... time for me to compile another playlist of actresses who think they can sing.
UPDATE (12/29/09): Check out this Gina Gershon quote from a 2003 magazine interview conducted by her friend Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics):
“Remember that time that you played on Letterman? It was Lou Reed’s birthday, and afterward we – you and me and Lou and Bootsy Collins and those girls – we all went and played at some weird little dive where Lou wanted to play. I played my Jew’s harp and you played the guitar and Lou sang.”
Everybody remembers “West End Girls,” right? A signature British synthpop record of the ’80s.
But I didn’t know that Pet Shop Boys originally cut a version of “West End Girls” with New York club-music producer Bobby O... and that the original 12-inch sounds like some Arthur Baker-style electrofunk. Check it out:
Brooklyn-born drummer Dana Hall is pursuing more than a jazz career in the footsteps of Max Roach, Art Blakey and Billy Higgins. He’s working on a doctorate in ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago.
Hall already is an assistant professor at the esteemed University of Illinois music school.
Now, at age 40, after years of gigging with the likes of Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove and Malachi Thompson, Dana Hall has released his first album as a leader. It’s called “Into the Light.”
Click here to hear the explosive title track, which you can download as a FREE MP3 if you’re registered at AllAboutJazz.com. Just follow this link.
Last night we wrapped 11 days of filming on an episode of “Treme” that I wrote. The show is now going on break for two weeks. Just in time.
Best part of the experience: My episode was directed by Ernest Dickerson, the cinematographer of “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X.” Ernest and I did a lot of talking about music, movies and food during this shoot.
Also, I got to shake Dr. John’s hand. (Photo above: David Simon and me at the recording studio where we filmed Dr. John.)
Worst part of the experience: I was sick with a chest cold for the second half of the shoot... and New Orleans is a bitch when it’s cold and rainy. All I want to do right now is sleep.
I like the thought of songwriters getting rich. Rod Temperton, an Englishman, wrote his first hit records – including this one – when he was in the funk band Heatwave.
Then he fell in tight with Quincy Jones and wrote such tunes as “Stomp!” (for the Brothers Johnson), “Give Me the Night” (for George Benson), “The Dude” and “Razzamatazz” (for Q himself), and “Rock With You,” “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” for Michael Jackson.
No surprise that Mr. Temperton reportedly owns homes in L.A., France, Switzerland and Fiji.
Twenty-one years ago, I visited Minneapolis to report on the music scene there. Met a popular nightclub singer named Cynthia Johnson. She gave a great interview.
Ms. Johnson had been the lead singer of a local funk band called Flyte Tyme... which used to compete directly with Prince’s local funk band, Grand Central.
Flyte Tyme included “Jimmy Jam” Harris, Terry Lewis and Jellybean Johnson, while Grand Central included Morris Day and the artist soon to be known as André Cymone. (How’s that for a couple of high-school bands?)
Look at the photo above. That’s Cynthia Johnson fronting Flyte Tyme... with Terry, Jellybean and Sue Ann Carwell in the background. (Remember Sue Ann?)
Irony of the story is... in 1980, Cynthia Johnson was a bigger deal in the music business than Jimmy & Terry, Morris Day and André Cymone put together. Because she was the voice on the international smash-hit disco record “Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc.
I dig Ronnie Dyson for two of his early-’70s hits: “(If You Let Me Make Love to You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You” and “One Man Band.” But he recorded a lot of good soul music that I’m just catching up to.
This includes, to my surprise, the original version of “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely”... a song I hailed in a recent post about Cuba Gooding, Sr. (Check out Dyson’s rendition by clicking here.)
Underground beatmaster DJ Spinna has resurrected a 1983 Ronnie Dyson club track for his new compilation album, “The Boogie Back,” which drops on Tuesday. The track is available right now as a FREE MP3.