Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Tale I Love To Tell

On Islam: Am Dreaming All Things Bridal By Syrian Designer Rami Al Ali. Forget A Wedding. I'd Rock This Outloud Cocktail Hour, KoKOFIFI Style. 

Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba Captured In Her Effortless Style by Schadeberg.

Great night out in sub-zero weather with friends. Love that our conversation spanned the merits of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's memoir, Infidel (raw/honest/edge)--which should be read alongside the equally outloud The Trouble With Islam Today by another bold woman, Irshad Manji--and ended in a serious musicology lesson that included a playlist I'm dying to plug my earphones into: Bessie Jones (my favorite recent discovery-hypnotically soulful gospel songstress, schooled by Grandpaps, a Negro slave born in Africa. As it happens too, Jones' music is really the backbone of Moby's most catchy tunes), Dirty Projectors (indie-rock band with and underbelly of Malian-tinged guitar strings), Local Natives (afropop fusion served with an organic, locavore preserved taste). And I discovered one of my friends has not heard of Miriam Makeba, pictured timelessly here by Jurgen Schadeberg.  

So where to begin? The fashion sensibility and classic chic? I believe this begins with knowing what you rock best.
Pakistani Designer Maheen Khan's Brilliant Bright Beads, Spring 2010. Image: Khurram Gadezi.

A tale I love to tell--Ayoung Makeba is treated to the full hair updo by mentor/friend Harry Belafonte 
upon her arrival in the US. She's dolled up and bow-tied to look just like the hot little numbers of the day. But as soon as Makeba gets hold of a mirror and fails to recognize her personal signature in the look, she washes out the perm and reverts back to the eponymous short do that's become synonymous with classic Afro-chic. Or should I tell the story of the inspiring artist activist, who received words of comfort and gratitude for her contributions to the struggle from the likes of Nelson Mandela (while he was still in jail), or her moving address to the UN, pleading the case of then apartheid South Africa? Maybe it's best to sum it all by saying, the very first album I bought, the first thing I thought to spend my money on, was Miriam Makeba's Sangoma album. Remains one of the most piercing/evocative/beautiful+enigmatic musical experiences of our time. Are you listening?

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