Like a lot of folks, my first recollection of this incredible piece of music was during the homecoming dance sequence of Spike Lee’s tour de force “School Daze”. Keith John (longtime Stevie backing vocalist, check out his music here), recorded the definitive version for the “School Daze” Soundtrack and appears in the movie. It was really one of those “Who is that dude?” moments, coupled with “Dang that dude can sing!”. There was something so beautiful and unique about the melody and the range of this song and the technical ability to pull something like that “You and I” style octave leap off.

Fast forward to now. Tuesdays are usually my band rehearsal nights and because transcribing music is one of my favorite things to do [insert sarcasm here] I took on the task of learning this piece. It was one of those things where I opened my big mouth and said “Hey aren’t we playing some Mission College type homecoming events in the next week or so we should do…”. Well as anyone who has rehearsed with me in the last couple of years knows I learn the majority of music that I have to transcribe from you tube. Well while I was trolling the site yesterday to learn this piece, I found this gem of Stevie (the composer of this lovely tune) on the first annual Soul Train Awards. This is the first public performance of “I Can Only Be Me” in the spring of 1987. It is about eleven months before the “School Daze” premiere. I hope you enjoy!


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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.