I was in mourning that summer; but seeking joy at every opportunity. It was 2005, Luther Vandross died that summer and I was hurting from a lost love, but still clinging to the hope of resurrection. I had been brutally snatched from the loving arms of California two years previously, but was back for the summer to work and spend time with my family.
I was taking long California walks, golfing in the mornings, teaching at night and generally renewing my love affair with the Bay Area. I was attending as many outdoor concerts as possible as this was something that had been lost to me in the haze of Houston humidity in which I now resided. One such concert was a jazz line-up at Berkeley’s Greek Theater featuring a bevy of performers including, Kem, Boney James, Laylah Hathaway and the extraordinary Rachelle Ferrell.
I was was familiar with Ms. Ferrell’s work through her first album that enjoyed considerable radio play on the Bay Area former ‘smooth jazz’ station KBLX. I had done some further exploration of Ms. Ferrell’s work and voice range while listening to her incredible catalogue. So I was ripe to see her for the first time at the ‘Greek’ concert. However, never did I expect the wild, insightful, spiritual being that appeared that day. Giving glory to the Supreme Being by many of His well-known names and prancing around the stage in glee with rifts of high-pitched laughter, joy and song. Somehow, I was misinformed by the quiet, reserved, straight-haired photo on the album cover where I had come to know Ms. Ferrell. The ‘live’ experience of Ms. Ferrell was worth a thousand words.
The summer day was hot and the air was full of cannabis and the good vibes of a mature crowd out to have a good time. I don’t remember all of Ms. Ferrell’s repertoire, but I do remember the sense that she exuded joy and spiritual grace. For me this was the highlight of the day. I am long past that summer now. Having new reasons to mourn, and new reasons to seek joy. But I will never forget the wonder of that summer, the healing that extended itself into my return to Houston and beyond. The frantic attempt to recover ‘losses’ that only lead me back to the work at hand. Bless Ms. Rachelle Ferrell, a gifted and remarkable spirit!
Linda Tauhid For Linda Tauhid’s Journal 5/18/14