Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a U.S. holiday designated to observe King’s birthday (January 15th), honor his life’s work, and celebrate human rights. While it would seem that MLK Day, a federal holiday, would be a holiday everyone celebrates, the reality is different. All federal government offices are closed today, but some banks […]
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a U.S. holiday designated to observe King’s birthday (January 15th), honor his life’s work, and celebrate human rights. While it would seem that MLK Day, a federal holiday, would be a holiday everyone celebrates, the reality is different. All federal government offices are closed today, but some banks and schools, and very few businesses close their doors. This disparity reflects the general attitude about what the day commemorates. Sadly, it also reveals that we either still possess some racial biases and/or are ambivalent to it’s very real existence and problems.
In Indiana, typically, only those schools with minority students tend to observe this holiday. Those that do not celebrate it will often set it aside as a winter storm cancellation make-up day. I suppose there could be debate discussing the merits of closing schools or not. Should we make the holiday more reverable by canceling classes? Or should we keep schools open and dedicate that day to focus solely on human rights education?
Regardless, I would hope that everyone, not just those with a diverse enrollment, workforce, or neighborhood, would use this day to celebrate human rights. Really, this holiday should be as important to white people as it is to black people. I certainly don’t view it just as a day to celebrate King’s life, his work, and the freedom that was eventually won for minorities. It is a day to remind ourselves of the awful bigotry that scarred our nation’s history, the very present reality of modern day racism, and the ugly effects of hatred fuel by ignorance. I think it is important to take time to assess our beliefs and actions in light of that knowledge and to celebrate the freedom of all men and the spirit of brotherhood that we all should have.
To honor MLK Jr. Day, I thought it would be nice to show you some Jonny Lang.
“What?! Jonny’s white,” you say.
I know, but on “Anything’s Possible” from his most recent album Turn Around, Lang sings about Martin Luther King Jr. and even includes part of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, so it seemed quite appropriate to feature this song today. It has encouraged me to keep going when times are rough.
I really love this album; I can’t recommend it to you enough. At a young age, Lang gained attention as a phenomenal blues rock guitar player with mature sounding voice. he could sing, but he was known for his guitar playing. Now his voice is at the forefront of a bluesy/R&B gospel album, showcasing his unbelievable vocal range and emotion, while exposing his maturity as a writer, musician, and man. The track “Only A Man” is a beautifully intimate duet sung with his wife; it has brought me to tears several times before. This is an excellent disc you must have.
If you read reviews of this album, ironically, you’ll find that the negatively tinged reviews often have the undertones of extremely reluctant tolerance for religion. Lang is quite open about his renewed zeal for Jesus Christ and has created a really well executed album that talks about his experience. While his religious views may not connect with everyone, it seems that those opposed to the idea of religion (and especially Christ) can’t get past the lyrics to objectively assess the music. For example. below is a review from Amazon’s Hal Horowitz that is barely covers his disdain for Lang’s renewed Christianity and thus, the music as a whole.
The churchy organ that opens and closes Jonny Lang’s fifth album reveals its direction. After 2003’s Long Time Coming plunged the once-up-and-coming blues guitarist into more soulful and commercial waters, Turn Around completes the transition. Lang is lyrically direct in his spiritual awakening, and the uplifting if sometimes pedantic lyrics make it clear that any vestiges of the teenaged guitar slinger that knocked out an impressive version of the lascivious “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” on his debut are far in the past. A few short leads aside, Lang shifts into full Stevie Wonder/Prince mode, but unfortunately without the quality material that made those artists’ work transcend genre. With vocals that shift from guttural howls to sweet and screaming falsetto on tunes like “Don’t Stop (For Anything)” and a penchant for oversinging, he’s not aiming for subtlety. But there are some winning melodies here: songs such as “Anything’s Possible” and “One Person at a Time” boast catchy choruses in a funkified, gospel-tinged, adult-alternative vein bound to appeal to audiences that lean towards obvious religious references in their music. This is a well crafted, undeniably heartfelt set from Lang, who makes it abundantly clear he feels his destiny is to make the world a better place through Jesus. It’s a valid enough objective that doesn’t quite connect with Lang’s rather heavy-handed lyrics, affected singing, and derivative tunes.
Here we are, in 2008, still trying to get a grip on bigotry. While Lang’s music may help to stamp out some racial tension, some of his reviewers are letting their religious hatred surface on prominent mainstream web sites. Sad, sad, sad. Amazon, you should be ashamed. Horowitz, go sit in the time-out chair until you’re ready to play nice.
Anyway, as for Johnny Lang videos, I couldn’t find many online, especially of his more recent stuff. This gritty live video will have to do. Although the quality is poor, I think the live video does help show that this guy is for real. When first hearing Lang sing, you might think, “This can’t be a young white guy.” Just by singing like he does, he breaks down racial stereotypes.No Comments >