Stu Scott by Butch Ford

 

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Stu Scott by Butch Ford

In 1993 the sports world was turned upside down when a brother from Chicago, Illinois, by the name of Stuart Orlando Scott, arrived in Bristol, Connecticut for the SportsCenter programming on the ESPN Network. The Vice president for talent, Al Jaffe, was summoned by his superiors to find new personalities who would appeal to a younger audience.

Scott, a graduate of The University of North Carolina, caught the eye of executives and viewers alike with his unique urban catchphrases and hip-hop style. It quickly caught on with the general population…and a star was born. Initially, the fear was that “the masses” would scoff at sports reported in this manner. Would it be perceived as “too urban?” Little did we know…Scott became a pioneer and trendsetter who changed the way sports are broadcast. He added swag and brought flavor to sports telecasts. And everyone followed in his footsteps.

Scott enjoyed a successful 22-year career with ESPN until he lost his lengthy battle with cancer in 2015. The entire sports world experienced a colossal loss with his passing. In addition to nightly SportsCenter programming, Scott was also commonly seen on NBA, NFL, MLB, and NCAA pre and post-game shows, as well. There’s an apparent void in the hearts of real sports fans that may not ever be filled.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I miss laughing at Stu’s wit and comical approach. He was engaging and commanded his audience. It always left you wanting more. You couldn’t wait to hear what he was going to say next. And he would never disappoint. It’s tough to watch SportsCenter these days, but if you listen close enough, you may hear a new school anchor give an ode to the legend known as Stuart Scott. We miss you, my brother.

 

Butch Ford

“What Time Is It?” by Butch Ford

The Time

“What Time Is It?” by Butch Ford

In 1981, Prince assembled an All-Star group of musicians…comprised of the baddest cats from the local Minneapolis music scene. Together they became arguably the funkiest band in the ’80s. But individually is where they made their historical mark as superstars of R&B. I’m talking about The Time.

Morris Day, was not only the lead man and zany persona but is also a world-class drummer (he played on all of The Time’s studio recordings). James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis are world-renowned super producers with countless platinum and gold records spanning nearly four decades. Jesse Johnson, the ultra-talented lead guitarist extraordinaire & producer who’s still dazzling audiences after 35 years, both home and abroad. Jerome Benton…funk/R&B’s most notable hype man, who’s the ying to Day’s yang and also the younger brother of Terry Lewis.

But the longest active members of the group who I refer to as the backbone are Garry “Jellybean” Johnson…drummer & Monte Moir…keyboards. Johnson has produced for Janet Jackson, New Edition, Nona Hendryx, and Alexander O’Neal. Plus has played lead guitar on some of Minneapolis’s funkiest tracks like, “Fishnet,” “Innocent,” “Criticize,” and “Black Cat.” Moir produced iconic R&B classics such as: “The Pleasure Principle” and “If You Were Here Tonight.” The talent speaks for itself.

Despite playing very few notes, if any at all on the group’s first three albums (other than Day), it’s “time” the fellas get their just due in the industry and R&B History. No other band has accomplished so much in separate incarnations as this super group we love and know as The Time. “Ain’t nobody bad…like them!”

Butch Ford

“We Reminisce Over You” by Butch Ford

thinking back

 

“We Reminisce Over You” by Butch Ford

The title of this entry was inspired by a 90’s hip hop classic from Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth.  The thought behind it are feelings of love, loss, gratitude and pride mixed with a little bit of selfishness and some sadness sprinkled in too.  We’ve all lost loved ones at some point in our lives and admittedly…it hurts.

I remember watching my grandmother beam with pride and joy.  She loved family; her mother, sisters, aunts & uncles, daughters and most assuredly her grandson(s).  Holiday gatherings and family get-togethers meant everything to her.  I would marvel at the outpouring of love displayed at these functions.  It’s difficult to put it into words.  It was just simply incredible.  Boy…I really miss those days.  And then…the unthinkable began to happen.  We started losing our older relatives slowly but surely.

Now we’re the grandparents, the great aunts & uncles, the matriarchs & patriarchs of our families.  But times have changed.  Things are very different now.  The world just ain’t the same anymore.  Don’t get me wrong…we’re all blessed to still be among the living, but it’s sad watching the day to day occurrences in these dark and scary times we live in.  We gotta stay prayed up and watch out for one another.  Hopefully better days are ahead.  As the song says, “A change gon come.”  We need a change…BAD!!!

Thinking back on how my grandmother loved on all of us…that smile, those hugs and the loving, nurturing words of encouragement…makes me wonder if she missed her parents, grandparents, great aunts & uncles as much as I miss her?  If she did, she didn’t show it.  But gauging the void in my heart…how could she not?  Her focus was obviously on everyone else’s happiness.

I still smile when I think of my grandmother’s strength and courage.  The way she held everything together was nothing less than amazing.  Her memory still lives on today.  Mainly because my mother stepped up in her absence and filled those shoes remarkably.  I’m just expressing myself, but I know there are others with similar stories, right?  The message today is simple.  It’s for our loved ones who have gone on to glory…to continue watching over us while we reminisce over you.

Butch

Two Headed Monsters by Butch Ford

the ojays

Two Headed Monsters by Butch Ford

As I sit here reminiscing about days long since passed (I’m just nostalgic that way). I began to hum a few classic oldies but goodies to myself, which brought about a debate I had with some friends a while ago.  The conversation was about…who we believed the greatest “One-Two Punch” in R&B history was.

The 70’s and 80’s brought about some undeniable timeless pieces…delivered by some of the most gifted & phenomenal singers.  And by “One-Two Punch” I mean a duo or tandem within a group or band that brought different flavors or elements to the music (within that unit) that we all grew to love.  The three choices that were mentioned most were: The O’Jays, The Whispers and Earth Wind & Fire.  Let’s settle this once and for all.

First was the O’Jays, with the sweet, smooth silkiness of Walter Williams, in direct contrast with the rugged, I didn’t come here to fuck around with y’all, begging & pleading delivery of Eddie Levert.  Great choice.  Next, was the identical twins Walter and Wallace (Scotty) Scott from The Whispers.  It was magical…almost mystical how they seamlessly and effortlessly dazzled us by swapping lines and alternating powerful individual lead parts with flawless, deceptive unison. Can’t argue that choice either.  Then there’s Earth Wind & Fire’s co-lead vocalists, the incomparable Maurice White (baritone) and the dynamic Philip Bailey (1st tenor) who provided another whirlwind “two headed monster” worthy of being crowned the greatest of all time, as well.  EWF’s genius touched our spirits and souls on some other level. Didn’t it?  To be honest, you can’t go wrong with either of these choices.  BUT WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE TANDEM???  And why?  Is it one of the groups mentioned above?  Or are we sleeping on some folks?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Hutchinson sisters, Wanda and Sheila of The Emotions; Bobby Smith and Phillipe Wynne of The Spinners; Ron Banks and LJ Reynolds of The Dramatics & Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin of Chic…who were all spectacular in their own right.  And if there’s anyone else I failed to mention, it’s probably because they had one primary lead vocalist during their run, which doesn’t qualify them as a tandem.  So…no shade intended towards anyone whatsoever.

But I’d like to know everyone else’s thoughts.  Who do you believe the greatest One-Two Punch in R&B History is?  Let’s have some fun with this.

 

Butch Ford

 

Mamba…Out! by Butch Ford

Kobe Bryant
Mamba…Out! by Butch Ford

Sunday January 26, 2020…A day we’ll all remember; where we were, what we were doing and how we felt upon hearing the devastating news of the helicopter accident that claimed the lives of Los Angeles Lakers’ Great Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter, Gianna, her friend Alyssa, her parents John & Keri Altobelli and the pilot, in Calabasas, California.

I’d reserved my thoughts, feelings and comments until after I was able to process everything.  But as my timeline began to flood, my phone began to ring and my messages began to mount. I took time to reflect on my numerous memories and the unbelievable career accomplishments of the man nicknamed, The Black Mamba.  Kobe was an 18 time All-Star, a 5 time NBA Champion and the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player. He entered the NBA as a teenager from Lower Merion High School (Pennsylvania) in 1996 and dazzled us for 20 incredible seasons.

Widely regarded as an All-Time NBA Great, Bryant leaves his wife Vanessa, three daughters, his parents, The NBA Fraternity and an entire world of fans to mourn his untimely demise.  The Altobelli’s were survived by a son and a daughter.  This was truly a sad day.  Let’s pray for healing, strength and courage for the families.  And let’s take better care of each other.  For none of us know the day, the hour or the time we’re gonna be called home.  God Bless Us All.

 

Butch

R & B Church by Butch Ford

Frankie Beverly

R & B Church by Butch Ford

Does the name Howard Beverly ring a bell?  Probably not.  Well…he’s a multi-instrumentalist, singer, writer and producer from Philadelphia, PA.  He started do-wapping (harmonizing) on the tough streets with friends and composing songs in the early 60’s.

Beverly later changed his name to Frankie after his favorite singer Frankie Lymon, formed a band called Raw Soul, moved to California with the hopes of making it big.  After a few years of playing small bars around town, Marvin Gaye sat in on a set one evening.  He saw potential in the band.  He took them under his wing, talked the group into changing their name and the magic began.

The newly christened Maze led by Frankie Beverly started creating a buzz in the urban markets.  We soon fell in love with the silky, soulful voice and hits such as, “Happy Feelings”, “Joy & Pain” and “Before I Let Go.”  1993 was the last year Maze released a studio album, but they continue to sell out everything from dinner clubs to 20,000 seat arenas.

If you’ve never had the honor or distinct pleasure to experience a live Maze concert…please do yourself a favor?  Frankie comes on stage to thunderous applause and from the opening number, the audience is on their feet.  Eyes are closed, arms are swaying left to right in unison and if you’re completely quiet and still for a few seconds it sounds like a mass choir.  The feeling is overwhelming.  It’s hard to put into words.  I refer to it as R&B Church.  It’s simply beautiful.

 

Butch Ford

 

A Wicked World by Butch Ford

 

 

 

danger

A Wicked World by Butch Ford

There have been several reports of some 64,000+ African American women currently missing in the United States.  Yet another problem that’s very troubling and disturbs me deeply.  I don’t even know where to begin.

I started hearing about human trafficking a few years ago but didn’t exactly know what to think of it all.  It took a while to process.  I couldn’t decipher if it was fallacy or some twisted form of reality.  And it continues to baffle me today.  After extensive research, I learned that it’s the kidnapping of our women for the illegal sex trade and the selling of human organs on the black market.

Evidently, people have been hired to snatch other human beings from public areas and use them for unspeakable acts.  Individuals are also being murdered and sold for their internal organs.  It’s a sick, satanic scheme for profit designed to bypass and flat out ignore the traditional organ donation process and donor transplant regulations.

As parents, educators, law enforcement and community leaders, WE MUST find a solution to this horrible epidemic.  We’re losing…and have lost countless loved ones at an alarming rate at the hands of these monsters.  And sadly, I’ve only seen and read about African Americans victimizing OUR OWN women!  The bigger question is…who are they working for?  Who’s behind this deviant criminal enterprise?

We must always be on guard. Traffickers have been reported being seen in school zones, outside of malls, around night clubs and even randomly in neighborhoods.  It’s our responsibility to protect our females and deter these awful crimes of occurring.  This is truly a wicked world we live in.

 

Butch Ford

 

Genocide by Butch Ford

burial-cemetery-countryside-cross-116909
Genocide by Butch Ford

Genocide is defined as “the deliberate killing of a large group of people.  Especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.”

As I travel the highways and byways of this journey called life, I’m looking at things through a not-so-rosy set of lenses.  Maybe it has something to do with my growth and maturity, which have exceeded even my own expectations.  In fact, my attitude and thought process resemble my cantankerous grandfather’s Alfred L. Ford Sr., who went home to glory over 35 years ago.  I’ll speak more about him at another time.

But today I’d like to discuss some very disturbing facts about what’s going on in our community.  I’ll put this in question form…which means they are merely rhetorical and are designed to provoke thought.  Here are a few of the obvious truths:  Why are there liquor stores strategically placed on every corner in urban USA?  But not in the suburban neighborhoods.  With dispensaries popping up all over the place, does this mean that prospective employers will ignore positive drug tests now that recreational marijuana is legal?  Why are dollar stores selling below market value items and products that are of poor quality?

Now let’s look at some of the more subtle realities that I believe are designed to take us out, as well.  In the inner-city Quick Marts & Party Stores, why are the 2 for $1 snacks (Honey Buns, donuts, cupcakes, fruit pies) full of poisonous/toxic ingredients?  Just check the labels.  Why are “Flaming Hot” items and .25 candy NOT sold outside of the city?  Why were value menus created at Fast Food Establishments?  And what quality of food is being served?

Why are the parks and recreation centers closed?  Why were the extracurricular activities removed from schools?  Why are all media outlets geared towards drugs, violence and evil?  I’m not trying to stir up controversy.  I’m just curious as to why this is happening in my community.  It’s sad…and we’re all being cheated.  But why is that?  Is there a larger plan that we aren’t aware of?  I’d love to know.

 

Butch Ford

 

 

The Sad Truth by Butch Ford

grayscale-photography-of-woman-s-face-1441151

 

The Sad Truth by Butch Ford

One year after the release of the 2018 critically acclaimed docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly”, the Lifetime Network has released its follow-up.  If you’re unfamiliar with the story, it chronicles the alleged sexual assault allegations by dozens of women who claim to have suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of R&B star Robert Sylvester Kelly for the better part of three decades.  Old “survivors” returned to update their stories, while new victims have emerged to tell theirs.

Part two of the documentary doesn’t appear to have garnered the ratings or the attention of its predecessor, but is just as alarming…in my opinion.  Kelly is currently being held in a Federal Correctional Facility outside of Chicago as he awaits trial later this year.  Part one of the docuseries had us all in an uproar.  Some were appalled by the allegations against the embattled singer, while his die-hard fans refused to waver and defended him totally.

I’m sickened by the allegations and have used this ordeal to further educate my daughters, colleagues, relatives and friends.  This extends way beyond music and is a very serious issue in The African American community.  People should know about the predatory nature of these animals in our society, today.  With so much access to our daily routine and personal lives, due to the digital age, security is paramount.  We should be more proactive and have plans in place to avoid being victims of these crimes.

I’m not here to judge Mr. Kelly, but as a father of young daughters, I do have strong feelings of discontent regarding his alleged pattern of abuse towards our young black women.  Personally, I don’t believe that 48+ women are all lying.  This could be any one of us in this position; pleading for the safe return of our daughters, reaching out for help from the local authorities to address this systematic problem, or seeking the necessary resources to heal our damaged children upon their return.

What are your thoughts on the matter?  Share with us.  And let’s pray for the victims and their families.

Butch Ford

 

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

 

 

Twenty 20 by Butch Ford

2020
Twenty 20 by Butch Ford

As we kick off a New Year and New Decade, I’d like to get something off my chest that’s been weighing heavily on me for some time now.  With the rash of kidnappings, infestation of drugs, poverty and crime in our communities, I thought about how things were for generations past.  Check it out and tell me what you think?

“Mother, mother there’s too many of you crying.  Brother, brother, brother there’s far too many of you dying.  You know we’ve got to find a way…to bring some lovin’ here today.”

“Thousands of lives wasting away…people living from day to day.  It’s a challenge just staying alive.  Cuz in the ghetto, only the strong survive.  Broken down homes, kids strung out…they don’t know what life’s all about.  Stealing cars, robbing bars, mugging, drugs, rat infested.  And no one’s interested.”

“Her brother’s smart.  He’s got more sense than many.  His patience’s long… but soon he won’t have any.  To find a job is like a haystack needle.  Cause where he lives they don’t use colored people.”

These are a compilation of lyrics from Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” (1971), The Temptation’s “Masterpiece” (1973) and Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” (1973).  All written 45+ years ago but still quite relevant in today.

It’s scary that nearly 50 years have passed and we’re no closer to the dream that MLK spoke of.  We’re not unified like our forefathers taught us to be.  Nor are we trying to make a difference to others.  It’s 2020 my people.  Not 1970.  We’ve got to get it together.  AND FAST!!!

 

Butch Ford

 

References

Gaye, Marvin.  “What’s Going On.”  What’s Going On.  Tamla, 1971.

The Temptations.  “Masterpiece.”  Masterpiece.  Motown/Universal, 1973.

Wonder, Stevie.  “Living for the City.”  Innervisions.  Tamla, 1973.

Photo Cred:  Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash