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.