Reflections for 09-09-09

Giving Kem Owens his well-deserved props

Few and far between are the successful entertainers who are willing to give back to the extent that KEM does. His recent free concert at Cass Park speaks volumes about his character.

The well-attended concert was presented to help and remember the downtrodden, the homeless, the drug addicted – the overlooked men and women who have fallen through the cracks of society.

KEM, who has two certified Gold albums to his credit, can relate because he too was at one time homeless, enslaved by drugs, estranged from family, etc.

Unlike some celebrities who prefer to deny their past, Kem Owens never wants to forget his. And because he is never in denial, he can appreciate his multiple blessings of today that much more.

I first heard KEM sing as a member of the Gospel Truth choir at Renaissance Unity Church, which I attended regularly when Marianne Williamson was the spiritual leader. The passion always he put into “Thank You, Lord” (which the choir also recorded) was touching because it was real. When something comes from the heart, it reaches hearts.

Also, I like KEM’s definition of a certain kind of intimacy: “Allowing yourself to really be yourself in front of another individual and allowing them to do the same, without any judgment.”

There is a spiritual dimension to that as well in that you can “really be yourself” with the Highest Power and not be judged. Not so with far too many people who put other people down in a feeble, mean-spirited attempt to uplift themselves.

Thanks, Kem Owens!

WHITNEY HOUSTON, as you probably know, did a much-hyped four-song mini-concert on “Good Morning America” last week. She looked good and the audience was warm and enthusiastic.

However, she was not in the best voice. Her voice cracked so many times that I felt embarrassed for her and changed the channel. Houston reportedly said she was hoarse from a very long interview she had done (not that day) with Oprah Winfrey.

Was that the case or is her voice in general decline? In any event, it might be a good idea for Whitney to stay away from the vocally demanding
“I Will Always Love You.”

Chilli (real name: Rozonda Thomas), from the trio TLC and former girlfriend of Usher, has a dating show in development. It will air on VH1.

The multi-talented Bobby McFerrin had a No. 1 hit in 1988 with “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” However, not wishing to be tied to any particular number, he has not performed the novelty song in many years.

In a whimsical manner he explained, “It’s not that I don’t love the song. But my songs are like my children. Some you want around and some you want to send off to college as soon as possible!”

VICKIE WINANS, gospel superstar, seems to have as many hit records as she has glamorous outfits. (Praising the Lord and looking good!) The latest is “How I Got I Over” which debuted at No. 3 on the national Gospel charts and is expected to hit No. 1 quickly.

The title cut is the classic by the legendary Mahalia Jackson, but with new twists, including jazz scatting by Vickie’s brother, gospel/jazz musician Tim Bowman.

Meanwhile, the Whispers have high hopes for “Thankful,” their first gospel/inspirational album that was released late last month. It was produced by Detroit’s own Fred Hammond, one of gospel music’s most prolific singer/producer/ writers, in partnership with the Whispers.

Even though they come from different fields, Hammond said it was “a dream come true” to produce the Whispers whom he cited as a vocal influence.

Jay-Z says he and wife Beyoncé make a point of saying very little publicly about their personal life. “Some things you have to keep private,” he said. He did, however, acknowledge that some people were offended because they were not invited to the wedding. (Hey, you can invite everybody!)

Of the hundreds of great songs Smokey Robinson has written, Berry Gordy says his all-time favorite is “I’ll Try Something New,” a Top 20 hit for the Miracles in 1962. It’s one of mine too, featuring some of Smokey’s most beautiful and poetic lyrics.

BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that between 1979 and 1981, Smokey Robinson’s nephews made several singles for Motown. (No hits, though.) They recorded as Keith & Darrell.

MEMORIES: “Street Life” (the Crusaders featuring Randy Crawford), “You Are” (Lionel Richie), “Automatic” (the Pointer Sisters), “Ten Commandments of Love” (the Moonglows), “Haven’t You Heard” (Patrice Rushen), “I Just Wanna Stop” (Gino Vannelli), “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle”
(Deniece Williams), “Kiss” (Prince & the Revolution), “Can I Change My Mind?” (Tyrone Davis), “Special Lady” (Ray, Goodman & Brown).

BLESSINGS to Michael Price, Douglas Ware, Victor Holsey, Ken Coleman, Kim Trent Coleman, William “Kipper” Ware, Erica Wright, Fred Holsey Jr., Lula Garrett, Ernest Maddox, Barbara Maddox, Joan Ware, Michael Goodin, Melody Moore, Spencer Haywood, Alexis Williams and Leroy Hyter.

WORDS OF THE WEEK: “The 1-2-3 way of living: Be honest. Accept the truth. Enjoy yourself.”

Let the music play!

(Steve Holsey can be reached at and P.O. Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.)

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