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Motown, The Musical

My mom used to say when I was growing up that music wasn’t that important to her.

She couldn’t understand why my Dad would pack the sound system’s storage compartments with all genres of music, wake up and immediately turn on music, and just enjoy the sonorous sounds of Fela, Ray Charles, Santana, and whoever else he felt like listening to.

My mom did care about music though. Her actions showed that much. If “her song” came on the radio while she was driving, I was the one who needed to turn up the volume. When Apple technology was invented, who gave me a list of songs she wanted downloaded “because they still sound good from the computer”?

Momma.

And when Motown, The Musical shimmied its way into The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, who was right there in her seat dancing?

Momma.

MotownIf you have a chance, try to go see Motown, The Musical while it’s touring around the States It opened on Broadway back in 2013 when I was preparing to leave NYC for Venezuela. Because of moving costs, I didn’t have the time or finances to go see it then though I desperately wanted to.

Of course, I chalked it up to “Oh, well, there will be other amazing shows” and went and had an amazing time in Venezuela.

Thus, when my mom e-mailed me asking about Motown in Houston, I grabbed at that opportunity the way toddlers grab at candy: with no shame.

Motown is simply inspiring. Berry Gordy definitely had some personal, romantic drama that he glosses over in the musical, but he paints everyone with respect and love. I have nothing but respect for that in an age where public excoriation seems to be the norm.

Plus, you can’t help but admire a man who built a company that changed the music industry when Blacks were still facing severe discrimination.

The music Gordy and Smokey Robinson were behind also got my mom dancing in her seat to the point where I had to warn her not to get all in the other woman’s space who was sitting beside her. People came dressed in 70’s costumes, cheered when beloved songs came on, and just enjoyed.

Motown was not simply a few hours of entertainment. It was an inspiration.

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Anthony Bourdain’s “Close to the Bone” Speaking Tour

If ever in Houston there are two places that you have to go to: Jones Hall and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. 

BourdainI recently went to both to hear Anthony Bourdain speak and watch a Motown performance. Now, I love Anthony Bourdain. He grew on me when I first thought he was obnoxious because he’s willing to point out

1.) how people should look past stereotypes,

2.) the irony of these fancy restaurants using an oppressed group’s (re: Mexican) labor for food preparation, and

3.) how he has no time for the whole vegan, farm-to-table, let-me-spend-$300-on-a-snack-that’s-passing-for-a-meal-and-think-I did-something-good-for-humanity-today types.

That being said, I couldn’t help but wonder if I as a Black woman could do what he did: open a talk admitting that I’m probably drunk and then spend a good majority of it disparaging another celebrity chef, Guy Fieri.

Besides my sister-in-law, I didn’t see any other Black people in Jones Hall. That leads to a whole ‘nother conversation about what privileged spaces people choose to access and for what reasons.

Would people dress up, spend $40.00+ for tickets, drive across town and listen to me speak on what Bourdain spoke on? I don’t think so because of all of the negative stereotypes associated with being Black and female.

I have to respect Bourdain’s hustle though. He’s writing books, he has an imprint, he’s won rightfully deserved Emmys, and now he had my behind sitting in a chair that my Momma paid for asking myself these very questions as he spoke.

Regardless of my reservations (no pun intended), head to the Society for the Performing Arts whenever in Houston to see who’s in town. Going to hear Bourdain speak fed my creative spirit. It was one thing I missed while living in Valencia but got at home.

My discussion of the Motown Broadway show will be coming in a future post!