I met brilliant arranger-conductor-composer Benjamin Wright in my studio work stint at the legendary Chess Records in Chicago.
More than words can adequately express, Ben taught me about harmony, both in music and in life.
Ben is all joy, the kind of person that lights up a room, a session, or a stage. A brother and a friend, he helped me land the dream gig of a lifetime, touring with The Temptations as their piano man.
Being on the road is a mind, heart, and soul expanding experience. Wouldn’t trade it for all the platinum records on Berry Gordy’s wall.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the discussion that’s been taking place in the nation about race. I don’t believe it is at all representative of the way most people in our country feel, the experiences most people have had, or the direction most people want to go.
While it has wrenched my heart, it has also jogged my memory and caused me to reflect on some of my own experiences.
In sharing with you and you with me, I hope it might help us all get back to actually embracing the essence of our uniqueness and delighting in our differences.
On one Temps excursion, we were heading to a venue in their old stomping grounds, about a half-hour outside of Motor City. We could hardly contain the excitement during the flight over.
After landing in Detroit, we boarded the motor coach, which made its way over to the concert hall. Stars out of the coach first, then my band mates and I gathered up our gear.
We all began heading over for the sound check, unaware of the danger that was waiting for us up ahead.
It would be at this moment that I would learn that racism is a failing of the soul; one that most often arises from a past wound suffered but not tended to with the love that is needed to heal.
Words came hurling straight at me. A few of them I’d never heard before. Still, I understood enough of what was being spewed for it to cut me to the core.
In addition to words, weapons were flashed. It was clear that all of our lives were in danger. That’s when my Temptations family encircled me.
“Back off,” David yelled.
My brave brothers hurled a barrage of other words right back at the would-be attackers, only with a fierceness that would win-out. Forever grateful.
There have been tons of political, academic, and media talk lately, relating to the color of our skin.
In an effort to try and eradicate racism from the face of the earth, we used to have an ideal that we adhered to, which was summed up in the applicable self-explanatory phrase “color-blindness.”
All were admonished to never judge someone on the color of his or her skin but instead look to the content of the person’s character.
However, there is an insidious fringe movement afoot to foment the opposite; that is, to judge an individual precisely because of the color of his or her skin (in this case, white skin). But the movement is not stopping at mere judgment. It is working ferociously to incite hatred.
Most tragic of all, this fringe movement is making headway, and it is all happening quite rapidly. Its precepts are being embraced by political leaders, corporations, government-private partnerships, and the far-left media, among other segments of the culture.
In reliving the Temptations story that I retold above, I came to the understanding that my brothers and I weren’t color-blind at all.
Instead I think we were “color-sighted,” meaning we were fully aware that we were born of different races. We not only didn’t care, we literally saw in each other the unique and beautiful way that God had designed us. And we loved it, and each other.
In getting to know each other at deeper levels, we solidified the bonds of friendship by wondering, admiring, appreciating, and sometimes even laughing about the racial distinctions that our Creator had fashioned. Guess that’s what comes from rooming together, eating together, playing together, worshipping together, and making music together.
A color-sighted world just might make for a truly wonderful world.