martin-luther-king
As we pause to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today I thought I might offer a brief word and a song.

I often struggle with the rampant revisionism and reductionist practices that are common place when discussing the life and legacy of Dr. King. We treat our history now just we treat our news: give me a little soundbite and that’s the whole story. Dr. King gave many, many speeches(an excerpt of one is above) I have a few theories as to why I believe “I Have A Dream” is his most enduring speech… but nevertheless all of us are constantly evolving and I often question why there has not been more of a highlight on the work that Dr. King was doing before he was so tragically assassinated.

For me, when you put it all on the line for those who have nothing that’s the sign of a real revolutionary. Dr. King’s revolution that he was on the verge of mounting before he died was not a revolution of blood, but one of love. Because only love would allow you to see beyond yourself, so that not only your family is fed but your neighbor’s family and so on and so on. Unfortunately, now as in 1968 that’s a concept that is lost on far too many. We even have the audacity these days to not refer to the poor at all. I mean if you watch television you would believe that everyone is either middle class or very wealthy.

Is there personal responsibility at every level of society? Of course. But I would like for you to pay particular attention to how Dr. King frames the perpetual “Boot Strap” argument. Suffice to say it might be somewhat difficult to pull yourself up by your boot straps, if you have neither boots nor straps. That’s my brief word.

The song: From the incomparable Nina Simone. The genius is present from the first chord struck… Chopin, incredible so subtle, if you blinked you might have missed it. Nina is at one with her muse: she is in incredible voice and her piano playing is incredibly free, incredibly dynamic. Several tempo shifts, this is music, this is life. Extolling the virtues of an incredible man as opposed to an incredible brand.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.