THE INSPIRATION / “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”

MP3 18 Papa Was A Rolling Stone.mp3 (7.08 MB)

A month or so back BoL featured an a cappella Stevie Wonder cover by Stephani Renee. I commented:

Stephanie Renee struts out her neo-doo wop (which is way deeper than neo-soul ‘cause neo-soul generally ain’t nothing but half-assed retro-soul). Stephanie offers up a unique take on “Ribbon In The Sky.” Hey, Step, you got more like this?
Well, Stephanie wrote me and said she sure did have more if I wanted to hear it. I said I did. She sent me 14 tracks from The Inspirations—she had been a member in college. I was knocked out by the sweetness of this music. So I’m sharing it here on BoL. BTW, Stephani did the arrangements for “For The Love Of You” and “Feels Like Heaven.”
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The Inspiration, founded in 1989, is a co-ed a cappella singing organization for students of the University of Pennsylvania. It serves as a musical outlet for individuals with a desire to celebrate the legacy of Black music. The organization concentrates on music written or performed by artists of African descent with the purpose of educating as well as entertaining its audiences. This purpose is accomplished not only through musical productions but also through the development of community service programs both on and off the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
—The Inspiration liner notes
The line-up:
Aria Anderson – ’98 soprano
Horace Anderson Jr. – ’96 bass
Athelstan Bellerand Jr. – ’98 tenor
Nikki Brake – ‘97
Alan Cashaw Jr. – ’99 bass
Byron C. Cherry – ’96 tenor
Justin Cotler – ’97 tenor
Kwesi Edwards – ’97 bass
Susan Kushner – ’98 soprano
Tiffany McDonald – ’96 alto
Robert Murat – ’99 bass
Fatima Nelson – ’97 alto
Danielle Rembert – ’97 alto
Josh Rosenthal – ’98 tenor
Erik Thompson – ’97 tenor
Natali Thompson – ’98 soprano
Candra Wooten – ’97 soprano
Leticia L. Young – alto/soprano

Recorded November 1995 – March 1996, this is a program of a cappella black music rendered by young collegians. This music radiates the joy and optimism of youth.

The songs they cover are from the popular soundtrack of their times. Unfortunately, the CD is no longer generally available. So enjoy these seven tracks from the 14 track CD. For those who went to college, or perhaps are in college now, hopefully this will inspire you to produce something that can be passed on, something that reflects the new bright beauty of your young adulthood, something done because you want to do it, thought it was important to do it, something you enjoy doing and people enjoy receiving.
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the inspiration 01.jpg 
Remember your youth? The dreams, the wonder, the crazy days of trying to figure it all out (and never quite figuring out that it was impossible to figure it all out), but nevertheless the sincerity of your efforts to be true to…, well, true to everything you thought was worth being true to, or something. But you were really pushing hard, striving, well, at least most of the time, pushing inside yourself trying to get the real you to the outside while at the same time doing what you needed to do to graduate and vowing not to become so jaded that you left you dreams behind like you eventually left college friends behind, even the one you almost married.

Remember the law degree or the chemistry degree, not to mention the accounting major, none of that was enough to make your heart smile and when you found out there was a group on campus composed of people who loved music as much as you did. Absolutely loved to sing and would skip a study session for an impromptu concert. Or the hours spent practicing to get the arrangement right; so what, you might have to take organic lab twice. Hell, it’s human nature to love what you love and not really care about stuff you’re doing just to fulfill a state requirement.

Remember we all knew it was no sense in getting serious when you only had one year left and had no intentions of staying in this area. California was home and Cali was were you were headed except she wanted to go back to New York and every time you had gone to New York it always seemed, at best, like a hustler’s paradise or a great place for a quickie but no place to be an environmental engineer? Remember that the main thing you both agreed on was the music. The music. And how her soprano made your tenor flutter. Well, yeah, there was something other than the music but it was the music that connected you to that something other.

Remember how proud you felt when your boy emailed you the group was going into the studio; you were two years gone from Penn but your heart was still with the group and all that week people at work were asking you why you were smiling so much.

And then there is this photo: damn, all the memories flood you every time you look at it. Remember when the CD finally came out and listening over and over. And over. To the whole CD. Maybe Fatima was right, I really should have stuck with the music. I had said I would never forget. And I haven’t. The music, the memories, it’s all too strong. So strong.

The music. The memories. The music…

—Kalamu ya Salaam

This entry was posted on Monday, October 6th, 2008 at 12:51 am and is filed under Cover. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “THE INSPIRATION / “Papa Was A Rolling Stone””

Q Says:
October 7th, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Thanks Kalamu for this. As a college student during the recording days of Inspiration, this was/is good music. The professionalism, the harmony, the vocal variation, is excellent. A lot of current groups could learn from them.

Q Says:
October 7th, 2008 at 2:22 pm

One more thing…in terms of covers and cover material, they were all great. Homeless was good, but as a fan of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, I guess the deep male voices give a different tone. No disprespect to the ladies though.

Stronger Than Pride, Human Nature, and Heaven Help Us All are by far the best.

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