We were scuffling away tears as the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birthday progressed when we learned about the departure of yet another light in the increasingly dim American horizon. Dame Aretha Franklin had chosen to take her blues to heaven after seeing little prospect of succeeding to inspire love in an increasingly polarized America –a country that seems to deny the many contributions of minorities to its cultural enrichment.
Amazingly enough, Ms Franklin and Mr Bernstein where two love driven geniuses that starting from very different backgrounds were brought together by talent and profound love for their country, their family and the promise represented by America.
Lenny left the talent rich lands of Massachusetts after graduating from Harvard to start his artistic life in New York.
Those where the days — just like these we are now living — when polarization, dogmatism and intransigence carried the day threatening freedom of expression including artistic expression.
Lenny was placed on the McCarthy List and thus execrated from CBS; and the other two TV networks and form any public position. Lenny weathered this adversity, taking time to compose and raise a family.
Aretha was also condemned to solitude by way of her family’s history. Her father was a very successful and inflammatory preacher while her mother an accomplished piano player. Soon the couple’s interests and vision of life clashed and Aretha’s mother went back to her hometown, Buffalo, New York.
Aretha stayed with her father in Detroit and cured her sadness through total dedication to her artistic interests. She began singing religious hymns and at age 12 recorded her first release: Songs of Faith. This was the period of her life to build the powerful voice that would touch every soul when she turned into a singer of blues.
At 16 she met and toured with Dr Martin Luther King who touched her heart with the blessing of faith in the moral strength of her country. At 22 she was initiating her ascent to fame and glory.
Both Lenny and Aretha built their talents during adversity. And adversity thought them how to nurture love.
Bernstein chose to spread his love over youngsters whom he chose as receivers of the divine gift of music. He also engaged in the most successful dissemination tour of America’s musical talent to every corner of the world.The New York Philharmonic was turned into the sounding board of America’s performing talent.
And by so doing the world began to see New York and the United States as the cradle of culture displacing Europe.
Aretha meanwhile turned her longing for a lost mother and a sacrificed leader into a torrent of love for her people and her country. And she brought together in a song the children of the slaves and those of their masters to turn them into keepers of the promise entailed in the American dream.
Both gave all of us reasons to cling to the never ending promise of love. Both told us through music an inspiring history of our country with its lights and its shades; its greatness and pettiness; its joys and sadness. They, of course, leave a horrible emptiness in this days when communication goes by Tweets.
Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.
For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O’Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.
Published by LAHT.com on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018
*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*