In baritone, a voice hummed the old Negro hymn - "Wade in the water, wade in the water children, God is gonna trouble the water."
God troubled the stream, subsequently we sang, "We shall overcome, we'll walk hand and hand, we shall live in peace, we are not afraid."
Deep in our hearts we watched spiritual songs and old Negro hymns seductively became more attractive, more alluring - pop, rock, and rhythm & blues. Superstitious writing on the wall coveted Jessie's girl. We "Speaking words of wisdom, let it be."
Then a new kid brazened the block. They called it rap. Its beat blared through the speakers, rattling roofs and disturbing the peace. I put my ear to the speaker to listen to the words laid over music that gave meaning to what we were seeing in the projects:
"You see the streets had me stressed something terrible."
"As long as I'm alive I'm alive illegal."
"Either you slangin' crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot."
"No matter how much loot I get, I'm staying in the projects - forever."
Tupac Shakur said with feeling, "Cause they never talk peace in tha black community. All we know is violence do tha job in silence. Walk tha city streets like a rat pack of tyrants."
Spiritual songs spoke when it was forbidden to speak. Old Negro hymns balled up her fist and fought. Rhythm and blues brought temptations. And rap became our nursery rhymes.
As the century turned so did the radio knob. When young people are asked if they know Paul McCartney, Simply Red, Das Effect (a rap group from the 90's) they ask, "Who is that?"
My daughter was singing Miley Cyrus' rendition of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." I said, "That was our song first. Cyndi Lauper wrote that song."
"Who?" she said.
We searched for Cyndi Lauper's version on YouTube. Our children believe they have "The best of both worlds." But we - have grown with music - I tell my children we have been doing the hoedown throw down for decades.
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