Armed with the incredible vocalist Bilal, The Roots performed the signature track from Detroit, a film about the race riots in 1967. “It Ain’t Fair” glares unflinchingly, takes a knee and raises a fist against the societal construct that has systematically denied equality of experience to those “presumed inferior,” to quote one of Bilal’s verses. And it achieves all this while covering its heart with its right hand. This reflective hymn tenderly yanks your heart strings and offers a window into the ethos of those who would like to stand for the flag but cannot in good principle, lest these same evils continue to exist.
Those lucky enough to be in the Tiny Desk audience witnessed masters at work. Black Thought is truly one of the most intelligent emcees ever, and his razor-sharp lyricism was on full display. Questlove, a musical and cultural historian nonpareil, was both a metronomical and moral anchor. It felt like the culmination of decades of academic rigor and boom-bap sessions, fittingly backed by a seven-piece horn section. Bilal’s falsetto-laced vocals and warm resonance evoked powerful messaging reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield’s “Don’t Worry,” delivered with the eccentricity of Prince.
Late last year, Common premiered “Letter to the Free” at the Tiny Desk and later won an Emmy for the song. It wouldn’t surprise me if “It Ain’t Fair” becomes another award-winning performance when the Oscars roll around early next year. This is a song that deserves to be heard in the millions of households that watch The Roots every night.
“It Ain’t Fair”
Curtis L. Jones Jr (Trombone), Arnetta Johnson (Trumpet), Hiruy E. Tirfe (Sax), Richard L. Tate II (Sax), Joseph Streater (Trumpet), Norman J. Bradshaw (Trombone), Damon Bryson (Sousaphone), Ahmir (Questlove) Thompson (Drums), Tarik (Black Thought) Trotter (Emcee), Bilal Oliver (Vocals)
Gloria Lynne (born Gloria Wilson; November 23, 1929 – October 15, 2013), also known as Gloria Alleyne, was an American jazz vocalist with a recording career spanning from 1958 to 2007.
Lynne was born in Harlem in 1929 to John and Mary Wilson, a gospel singer.She grew up in Harlem, and as a young girl, Lynne sang with the local African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Choir. At the age of 15, she won first prize at the Amateur Night contest at the Apollo Theater. She shared the stage with contemporary night club vocal ensembles as well as with Ella Fitzgerald, she recorded as part of such groups as the Enchanters and the Dell-Tones, in the 1950s. She recorded as a soloist under her birth name, though most of her work was released under her stage name on the Everest and Fontana labels. In 1958, she was signed to Everest.
Although showing much promise early on, especially after TV appearances, including the Harry Belafonte Spectacular, her development suffered through poor management. Some unscrupulous recording ‘executives’ profited while she was left virtually penniless, saved by the fact that she was able to work steadily and earn her money from performances — a victim of unpaid royalties.
In the 1960s, she had several hits including “June Night”, “Love I Found You”, “I’m Glad There Is You”, 1964’s “I Wish You Love”, which became her signature song, and “You Don’t Have To Be a Tower of Strength”, her answer to Gene McDaniels’s “Tower of Strength” and a pop hit that proved how versatile she could be in the studio. After her time with Everest Records, she moved back to Fontana and recorded such albums as Soul Serenade, Love And A Woman, Where It’s At, and Here, There And Everywhere, demonstrating her versatility in jazz, RnB, soul and melodic pop.
During her earlier years on the road, Lynne shared bills with RnB, jazz, traditional pop music, and pop singers including Ray Charles, Billy Eckstine, Johnny Mathis and Ella Fitzgerald. TV specials include two with Harry Belafonte and duets with Billy Eckstine. As Lynne moved into jazz in her later career she performed with many jazz musicians, including Quincy Jones, Bobby Timmons, Philly Joe Jones, Harry “Sweets” Edison.
She wrote lyrics for “Watermelon Man” with Herbie Hancock, and “All Day Long” with Kenny Burrell. New York City proclaimed July 25, 1995 as “Gloria Lynne Day”.
In 1996, Lynne received the International Women of Jazz Award, and she was honored with a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1997. Other awards and recognition include the National Treasure Award from the Seasoned Citizens Theatre Company (2003); induction into the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame; Living Legend Award from the State of Pennsylvania (2007). On May 6, 2008, Lynne was presented with a special award for “Outstanding Achievement In Jazz”, at the New York MAC Awards. On October 22, 2010, she was honored at New York’s Schomburg Library, for her many contributions to the music industry and the world by Great Women In Music and its founder Roz Nixon. Roz Nixon Entertainment worked successfully with Lynne throughout her final years, producing, co-producing or participating in making the arrangements for Ms. Lynne’s appearances pertaining to her last concerts or significant events.
Banny Price made his living as a singer/guitarist in and around Shreveport, Louisiana where he was born. Although nothing was released, his first recording sessions were for Myra Smith’s local Ram records in the early 60s.
In 1963/4 Price went to the famous Robin Hood Brians Studios, just across the border into Tyler, TX for a recording session under producer Ken Demary. The tracks Price cut included the fine deep soul track “There Goes The Girl” and the exciting horn led instrumental “Monkey See – Monkey Do” which has become a firm favourite with R & B dancers all over the world. These tracks were first issued as Jewel 733 by Stan Lewis, the main music man in Shreveport, in October 1964. And although the 45 sank without trace, it didn’t stop Price making another trip to Tyler, TX this time with Dale “Suzie-Q” Hawkins. The top side of Jewel 749, which appeared the following year, was a version of the B B King song “You Know I Love You” but the flip, “You Love Me Pretty Baby” is the track that everybody wants to own. This is a rousing piece of minor keyed R&B with Price’s guitar showing some excellent Otis Rush styled licks and his tough vocals hitting just the right spot.