Category Archives: Wisdom From Kammbia Column

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 37: My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire by Maurice White

I was challenged recently by a blog reader to read and review more nonfiction books. I have read fiction books for most of my reading life. There were numerous reasons why I have gravitated towards novels instead nonfiction. However, I chose not to state those reasons in response and accepted their challenge. I have decided to use February in celebration of Black History Month to read more non-fiction.

I finished Maurice White’s biography, My Life with Earth, Wind, & Fire two days ago. White was the visionary bandleader for Earth, Wind, & Fire and has chronicled his life story of growing up in 1950’s Memphis, moving to Chicago in the 1960’s to get his musical career started and finally to Los Angeles in the 1970’s where he created one of the greatest musical groups in American Pop Music.

White laid out in full detail the ups and downs of his career and challenges of getting Earth, Wind, and Fire on the same musical footing as the great white bands of the 1970s like Led Zeppelin, Genesis, The Eagles, and Aerosmith. He envisioned Earth, Wind, and Fire as a crossover band that covered the full musical palette of black music from gospel, R&B, jazz and Afro-Cuban Music. The band’s musical diversity changed the paradigm of black music along with Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder during the same time. Gaye and Wonder focused on the political and social consciousness of the 1970s while White’s Earth, Wind, and Fire added a spiritual and cosmic perspective unique for its time to black music.

This quote near the end of book summed up White’s vision for Earth, Wind, and Fire:

The irony of all this was that I spent a lot of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s creative capital to erase the idea that black masculinty was a one-size-fits-all concept. I wanted EW&F to always represent an intellectual, thoughtful man—a man skilled in his musical craft, independent in his thinking, spiritual and otherwise; a black American and yet a man of the world.

Earth, Wind, and Fire was the first musical group I connected with as a kid in the mid 1980s and songs like That’s The Way of the World (my favorite EWF song), Love’s Holiday, On Your Face, Happy Feeling, Can’t Hide Love and September remain a part of my life three decades plus later. Moreover, I truly connect with White’s vision for Earth, Wind, & Fire on an artistic level and has become a source of inspiration for my own creative work.

My Life with Earth, Wind, & Fire was an excellent first choice for my challenge and I learned a great deal about the brilliant visionary and creatively, complex man that was Maurice White.

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 36: Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Can you ever go home again? Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor attempts to answer that question. Binti returns home after a year away on a spaceship at Oozma University. She brings her friend, Okwu, for support. However, the homecoming does not go as expected and the family treats Binti like a pariah. She discovers a… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 35: Animals at the End of the World by Gloria Susana Esquivel

I have a soft spot for coming-of-age stories. I don’t have a good explanation for why those stories appeal to me as a reader. But, they do. When I found out about this first novel from Colombian author Gloria Susana Esquivel, I knew I had to read it. Animals at the End of the World… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 34: Black Women in Science by Kimberly Brown Pellum

Daddy, I’m ready to read another book with you at bedtime. I loved hearing that sentence from my 10-year-old daughter, Norah. We have read many books together over her young life. This time she wanted about women in science. I did a Google search a few weeks ago and came across Black Women in Science… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 33: Jay-Z (Made In America) by Michael Eric Dyson

I love getting books as Christmas gifts especially from my 10-year-old daughter. This year’s Christmas gift is Jay-Z (Made In America) by Michael Eric Dyson. I will confess upfront that Jay-Z is not my favorite rapper and I have not listened to a lot of his music. My favorite rappers are Big Daddy Kane and… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 32: A Time To Dance by Padma Venkatraman

One of the joys of reading is discovering a book (or author) you would have never come across in your normal reading experience. I will confess upfront that I’m not that much of a fan of YA novels. Reading about teenagers (or young adults) and their problems or issues does not move me as a… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 31: Ascending by Meg Pechenick

What if you were the only person on a spaceship with an alien race? You were the person groomed to speak an alien language and take part in an intercultural exchange between planets? You would want to do it in the first place? If you did, how you feel about it? Excited? Optimistic? Groundbreaking? Or… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 30: The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

It is interesting how a certain sub-genre presents itself to you as a reader. I have not been a historical fiction reader throughout my reading life. However, I read several historical fiction novels over the past couple of years. Beginning with the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay like Children of Earth and Sky, A Brightness… Continue Reading