The Age Of Madness
Toni Braxton is aging so well.
I was also stunned by the lame comments on the death of June Pointer by many posters who clearly had no idea who The Pointer Sisters were (and are) and the role they played in paving the way for the Destiny's Childs of today. Like many of the best singers, The Pointer Sisters, preachers daughters, grew up singing in the church. They sang pop songs and topped the pop charts. They sang R&B songs and topped the R&B charts. They were the first black female group to sing at the Grand Ole Opry. And that's not to mention that they've been nominated for over a dozen Grammy Awards in the pop, R&B and country categories (Hel-lo!) Now, it's a given that black artists will be on MTV (heck, black artists are MTV in a lot of ways) but it wasn't always that way. It took Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston blazing through the pop charts for the "powers that be" to say, "Uh oh, we're missing out on big money here!"
As a teenager, I didn't think, "Hey, The Pointer Sisters are old, I don't want to listen to them." When Tina Turner made her phenomenal comeback, I didn't think, "Tina Turner is older than my mother! She's too old to be on MTV!" Please!
This obsession with age has got to stop. Beauty is great (Love it!) Youth is great (Love it!) but they are not everything. The idea that someone is just about "over the hill" after 25 is beyond ludicrous and I'm tired of it. That is one of the problems with hip hop (to say the very least, I'm not even going to go there...) Rappers, even if they are good, either have to portray a perpetually youthful party image ala Snoop Dogg, or they lie about their age. LL Cool J notwithstanding, they are not allowed to mature and have a real career past 30, much less begin one. Ridiculous.
Artists like The Emotions, Phyllis Hyman, Gloria Gaynor and Thelma Houston? They would not have careers if they were starting out today, they would be backup singers. Maybe. They were all pushing thirty or were older when they had the biggest hits of their careers. Ditto for the men. Teddy Pendergrass was in his late twenties and early thirties when he had his biggest hits and Marvin Gaye was 32 when What's Going On was released.
I'll never forget Phyllis Hyman complaining about Pebbles of all people and essentially falling apart and believing the hype before her suicide eleven years ago, just weeks after her 46th birthday.
I have never in my life heard a song on the radio and thought, "Hey, that sounds like Phyllis Hyman," because nobody sounds like Phyllis Hyman except Phyllis Hyman! Nobody sounds like Chaka Khan except Chaka Khan. Nobody sounds like Gladys Knight except Gladys Knight. And yet none of these people could get a major record deal today without being 100 pounds soaking wet with a blonde weave and a belly ring! ^&%*#@!!!!!
I must say, I really admire the late, great Dorothy Dandridge. She was beautiful and talented and she didn't take anything for granted. She knew that she was not a great singer, (check her out on iTunes to hear for yourself) but she also knew that singing in nightclubs was the only consistent way she could keep a foothold in Hollywood in between acting jobs, which were always years apart. In Donald Bogle's wonderful biography of Dorothy, her sister Vivian said: "She really loved dignity and elegance. Almost to a fault. This is the thing that she abhorred about the nightclub scene... that she had to get up there and just be strictly a sex symbol." Dorothy herself told her best friend Geri Branton:
"Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most talented people in the world, and it embarrasses me that she cannot work the rooms that I work. The reason for it is so horrible. She's not sexy. The men in the audience don't want to take her home and go to bed. And yet she's up there singing her heart out for one-third of the money they're paying me. And I resent being in that category."
Ms. Branton said, "I liked Dottie for saying those things." Same here. I like Dorothy Dandridge because she "got it." She wasn't passing herself off as some great singer - and she was 33 when she was nominated for her Oscar. Oprah was 32 when her show was nationally syndicated. Toni Morrison was 39 when her first novel, The Bluest Eye was released. Tina Turner was 45 when she won 3 Grammy Awards for her Private Dancer album. Dr. Mae Jemison was 36 when she landed on the moon.
I wish more people would get a clue and stop limiting people based on age - especially some younger people who swear their generation did everything first (*eyes rolling*) Some of us "old" people are gonna "do the do" anyway, so you may as well get over it.
And what are you going to do when you turn 30?