Standing and watching the Pasadena Black History Parade, in Pasadena a week ago, a friend of mine, Ibrahim Naeem, said something that has stuck with me. Ibrahim said something to the effect that the young man playing the guitar with one of the bands had probably found him something to do that probably kept him out of trouble by playing the guitar. Neither of us knew the young man but it was obvious that he was into his guitar and I imagine that he spends lots of hours with his guitar.
My mind goes to B. B. King and the guitar he named Lucille. My son, Brother Yusef, the Bluesman has played for Disneyland for about twenty years, just returned from Korea from a “gig“, playing his guitar and performing the Blues. I guess he picked it up listening to the music we played around the house when he was a kid. He writes that he was inspired to play the guitar by seeing the Jackson 5 on the Ed Sullivan Show.
His next inspiration was going to church with his grandmother at the local Church of God in Christ in his hometown, Bakersﬁeld. He says it was “a cultural awakening.” They would play guitars, bass and organs. In an article written about him in a March, 2007 issue of the Pasadena Star News, he quotes his mother who explained the blues this way. She said that “for African Americans, when you’re just dealing with existing day to day, you need that outlet. You’re dealing with all the normal stuff that life throws at you, and then you’re dealing with being Black, you just have that double dose. You have to get it out, so every Sunday you got it out.”
He took piano lessons as a child but at age 19 he picked up a guitar and taught himself to play, and the rest is history. He has a number of CD’s that are available online, many developed while he played at Disney Downtown. One includes a CD entitled, “Kids Get The Blues Too.” You can hear Brother Yusef in person at the Women of Achievement Breakfast on April 15, at Brookside Country Club.
I have two other sons I’m equally proud of. My youngest son is a minister of the Gospel who was inspired when we attended Christ Memorial Church of God In Christ, in Pacoima, CA, under Bishop Benjamin Crouch, the Senior Pastor and his son musician, Andre Crouch, the minister of music. He was not encouraged by the Elders who thought he was too young, in his early 20s. Even while telling him no, they conferred him with a ministers’ license, he continued on and later they ordained him as an Elder in the church. My middle son is in law enforcement. He was inspired by my Law practice and founded his own attorney service. Then he established a legal aid service. Though he was sidetracked by an illness, he later got into a ﬁeld of his choosing and recently informed us that in 5 years he will be eligible to retire.
When you’re inspired, neither illness nor lack of training can stop you. I was inspired to become a barber when my Mother’s store was next to a Barber Shop. I was later inspired to become a lawyer when one of my haircut clients was the only Black Lawyer in town. He echoed my Mother’s statements when he said, “You can do it.”
My lesson to you is don’t get too tired pursuing your goal. Be inspired. You can accomplish your dreams. And if you fall short, you will be on the ladder to discover something. Stay inspired!