SALUTING MANDRILL INC., GARNIKA, THE NEW MUSIC SEMINAR AND BLACK MUSICIANS THE WORLD OVER!
by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
As you all know – or should – June is BLACK MUSIC MONTH! This is the time we come together to salute some of the most creative, talented and influential segment of our people – the musicians, composers, singers, technicians and performers who keep us entertained and inspired.
Some of us are born with the capacity to sing and get up in front of audiences without fear or trepidation, and manifest the wonderful gift God gave us. Others work tirelessly to perfect their performances. Some form music groups, others are part of music ensembles. Others are appreciators – or fans – who come out to support and enjoy the show; buy their albums, listen to them on the radio.
Regardless of whether it’s Jazz, Gospel, Rhythm & Blues, HipHop, Rap, African, Caribbean – it’s all our music!! And we get to enjoy and celebrate a double/triple dose of it for the entire month of June. There is practically no place – at least not in New York and other parts of the Eastern Seaboard, and California, that some kind of salute is not taking place. The very atmosphere is alive with music – as they come together to appreciate each other, learn new techniques, study the business, have jam sessions, and award each other for jobs well done.
Of course in the context of this month-long celebration, I salute the men in my life who were the consummate musicians – Lou Wilson (Love of My Life) of MANDRILL, INC., and his brothers, Ric, Carlos, and Wilfredo – who founded, and made up the nucleus of the group. I am also saluting another important man in my life – our Handsome Son (he hates it when I call him “Handsome,” but he truly is) Rais Wilson, also known as The One Son Lion Ra, who is the founder of the group GARNIKA.
MANDRILL: LOU, CARLOS, RIC, AND WOLF WILSON – Founding members of the group, NYC 2011
Lou fairly oozed with music from every pore of his being. Everything he touched became a musical instrument – every sound a concept for a new song. Our son has the same DNA – and I’m fairly sure that some, if not all, of our Grands have some of that very same raw talent germinating inside them as well.
So during Black Music Month, I salute the music of MANDRILL – and the forty-plus years they performed, delighted and inspired people all over the world. The confluence of Panama, Jamaica, Barbados, New York, Africa, and all parts of the Caribbean, laced with jazz, R & B, is what took their music from great to sensational, and inspired Kanye West and others to adapt it to some of their signature work. I defy anyone to listen to FenceWalk, or Ape Is High, and remain seated in their chairs. It can’t be done! Their fan base still remains, though, sadly Lou, who did 90% of the composing and lyrics, joined the Ancestor/Angels two and a half years ago. The integrity of the music still stands for all times – a treasure trove of some of the greatest music ever. Between the four Wilson Brothers alone, they played at least 60 instruments.
Add to that the other musicians who have been a part of the group off and on, you could possibly see 80 instruments on stage – congas, trumpet, trombone, saxaphone, snares, flute, cymbals, ago-go (cow bells) sekere, tambourines, keyboards, violins – and these were all played by live musicians who also sang, and performed (Lou would leap across the stage and continued to do so until he passed on at the age of 71). If you’ve not listened to the music of MANDRILL for quite some time, check them out at www.mandrillis.com Like Muhammad Ali – whose theme music they composed and performed for his movie THE GREATEST – MANDRILL is the Greatest of All Times!!
Like Mandrill, GARNIKA is definitely cutting its own swath, making its own mark – departing from the mundane and taking it to a new level. They have taken funk to a new level, synchopated rhythms emanating from four young men – who have filtered their contemporary lyrics through the tenor of the times – when things are much more fast paced and hyped. Looking for their own niche in the music industry, they’re based in Philadelphia and have been performing in many of the local clubs in the area. Check them out and “LIKE” them on FaceBook!
RAIS WILSON a/k/a One Son Lion RA of GARNIKA
Black Music Month is not just about accolades, as I mentioned earlier, but also about the business of music, which, like show business, requires specialized knowledge if you are going to survive, thrive, earn a living and manage your careers. In view of those imperatives, The New Music Seminar was formed. Friend, associate, and producer/promoter, Sparkie Martin, forwarded this information to me – and I’m sharing it with those who are either in the industry, or want to become a part of it.
Stay Blessed &
bullet Columnist Gloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com