The Emancipation of Tiger Woods

The Emancipation of Tiger Woods

“It’s now up to me to make amends, and that starts by never repeating the mistakes I’ve made” Tiger Woods apology speech on Friday Morning

Over 90 days and three months later, golfer Tiger Woods went public and tried to come clean after his dirty laundry was aired to sports fans all over the world. Woods, the 34 year-old child golf prodigy, was involved in a high profile car accident last November, where he crashed his SUV into a tree at the married couple’s estate in Florida. Tiger’s reign as the country’s best golfer was tainted due to stories linked to his infidelities by women claiming to have had affairs with him. His wife Elin has been silent and out of the public since December.

The media, critics and everyday people have had their take on “Tigermania” over the last three days, and quite frankly I’ve been a little bit disappointed in how people have been continuing the negative comments about Woods. Golfer Ernie Els told a reporter from Golf Magazine on Friday, “It’s selfish… can write that. I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the golf tournament.” Els even took shots at the commissioner of the PGA Tim Finchem, claiming Tiger is the savior of the PGA, something short of a fallacy. “It’s like Tim has lost his head. He wants Tiger back in the worst way and so he lets this go on. I mean, we all want to see Tiger back, but this doesn’t look good.” Or, pro golfer Tom Watson in a KSHB-TV television interview in Kansas City, Missouri stated “he will be back at some point this year. But it’s really up to Tiger to get his personal life in order, and his golf is really secondary. It’s bad for our game. It’s something he needs to get control of and a handle on and make some amends and show some humility to the public when he comes back.” Watson later added, “his swearing and his club throwing, that should end. That’s not part of what we want to project as far as the professional golf tour is concerned.”

The blatant disrespect and childish comments from these golfers and members of the peanut gallery need to take a “chill pill!” Right now, can you tell me who’s the greatest name in golf next to Tiger? Can you honestly tell me a golfer who can pull the advertising revenue, television ratings, and tournament draws like Tiger Woods? I doubt it!  Tiger’s name alone is worth over a billion dollars alone!

Tiger’s road to recovery was evident during his speech. Him attending the Gentle Path Clinic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi was the first step in trying to redeem himself, not his wife and kids. In dealing with addiction, one must admit they have a problem then deal with it head on, something Woods explained during Friday’s press conference. He adds “it’s hard to admit that I need help, but I do. For 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in inpatient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I’m facing. I have a long way to go. But I’ve taken my first steps in the right direction.”

His addiction is like one’s to food, cosmetic, drug or alcohol, or shopping. What makes Tiger’s speech and his situation so surreal is that he’s Tiger Woods. His high profile status in sports and the mainstream has prevented him to have a normal life. His addiction was women. Men and women have dealt with infidelity since the beginning of time. It’s nothing new! Tiger’s life was similar to the late Michael Jackson’s, where these men had never enjoyed their childhood due to the enormous talent and pressures of being celebrities at an early age. Let’s be honest, when Tiger was in his 20’s, did we ever see him date any high profile models or celebrity figures? No! Outside of his wife Elin, when has Tiger had any long-term relationships? As a journalist and critic that’s followed his career, I can’t say that I have. Him not having a normal childhood and the lack of basic social relationship skills was also another factor to Tiger’s personal fiasco. I honestly believe Tiger never enjoyed the rigors of dating life nor developed any relationships as a child and partially as an adult. His “playboy/player” persona was his channel for relaxation and his escape as the high-profiled Tiger Woods.

Only God knows the outcome of Tiger and Elin’s marriage, but I can say the naysayers have been pretty harsh on Tiger and his many indiscretions. There’s a classic saying “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Or, biblically, the book of Matthew Chapter 7, verses 1-5 state:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” How can you say to your brother, “let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

You and I aren’t perfect in anyway whatsoever. But, to call Tiger out for his major flaws is something that we ourselves need to look. Tiger is ready to move on and he’s way on point to begin his personal journey. What we all need to do as a people, especially the press, is to look at ourselves before we cast that first stone.

The Revolution Will Be Televised

Brian Pace

The Pace Report


The Manhattan Transfer at 40

This year marks The Manhattan Transfer’s 40th anniversary in the record industry as a pop and jazz vocal tribute group. Over the years they’ve taken standards of the great American song book and have presented them to audiences all over the world. Whether its blues, rock, jazz, or soul; TMT has maintained the group’s mission to keep the art of the song and vocalese prevalent in modern music. They’ve been taking jazz, pop, standards, and vocalese elements and kept it fresh and innovative for four decades. This past weekend, the TMT performed two-sold out performances with the legendary Jon Hendricks at The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Proving again how this small vocal group has become a force in the record industry.  Spearheaded by vocalist Tim Houser in 1969 with co-partner Gene Pistilli, the group’s name derived from author John dos Passos’s book “Manhattan Transfer.” Both Houser and Pistilli recorded their first album in 1970, but the two were musically on opposite sides of fence. Gene left and Tim had the task to keep his vision together.

In 1972 Houser put the second phase of The Manhattan Transfer into motion. He enlisted vocalists Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, and Laurel Masse’ to become the new version of the group. At the time, the group was making a dent in the New York City supper club scene performing at clubs like Max’s Kansas City, Trude Heller’s, and Reno Sweeney. The late Ahmet Ertegun caught one of their performances and eventually signed the group. The group’s niche was mixing jazz vocalese while keeping the traditional songbook alive written by giants like Cole Porter, Billy Strayhorn, Irving Berlin; paying a homage to all of the Tin-Pan Alley heavyweights that helped shape the gift of song.  Their debut self-titled album “The Manhattan Transfer” was released on Atlantic Records in the spring of 1976 to rave and stellar reviews.

Their second and third recordings “Coming Out” and “Pastiche” didn’t really grab American music audiences like it did overseas. The European audiences packed stadiums and concert halls due to their appreciation and love of jazz music. At the time of the band’s meteoric rise, band member Laurel Masse’ was involved in a car accident and was replaced by Cheryl Bentyne. In 1979 TMT released “Extensions,” a record that became a hit with record buyers as well as produce the groups signature record “Birdland.” Written by Weather Report founder Joe Zawinul with lyrics by Jon Hendricks, “Birdland” pays a vocal tribute to the history of the famous jazz club named after alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. This hit record would earn the group it’s first Grammy awards in 1980 for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental, and the award for Best Arrangement For Voices.

Jon Hendricks, pioneer of vocalese, and mentor to The Manhattan Transfer for over 30 years, recalls first meeting group founder Tim Houser. “Tim introduced himself to me after one of my performances at The Village Vanguard. He told me he formed a group call The Manhattan Transfer in tribute to myself and group Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and told me they were going to be big!”  After 40 years, Hendricks adds “TMT have done things vocally that many of my counterparts aren’t here to witness anymore. The vocal stylings as well as staying true to the great American songbook. An art that’s being lost in American popular culture.”

Some of The Manhattan Transfer’s musical accomplishments include: the first group to win Grammies in two different categories. In 1981 the group won for Best Pop Performance for their Top 10 hit “The Boy From New York City” and “Until I Met You” for Best Jazz Performance Group or Duo from their “Mecca for Moderns” album. Their landmark 1985 release “Vocalese” was nominated for 12 Grammy’s and won 7 awards, including Best Arrangement for Dizzy Gillespie’s composition “Another Night in Tunisia.”

What I’ve liked about TMT is their ability to not record concept or tribute albums, but record records that have introduced or reintroduce listeners with songs of composers that tend to receive little recognition or no recognition at all. For instance, “Vocalese” introduced listeners to vocalist and lyricist Jon Hendricks. “Brazil” featured compositions of some the best contemporary South American composers like Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento, and Gilberto Gil. The group’s latest disc, “The Chick Corea Songbook,” is a refreshing take on the composer/keyboardist’s music which spans some 40 years. Chick wrote and performed “Free Samba” which is the opening track on the disc. Again, this isn’t a tribute disc, but a record introducing listeners to vocal interpretations to Corea’s music. They provide a fresh take on classics like “Spain,” “Time’s Lie,” and “The Story of Anna and Armando.”

Looking back and accessing The Manhattan Transfer’s 40 year journey has been somewhat remarkable. Tim Houser’s vision of creating a band similar to the vocalese stylings of Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross during the late 1960’s when rock music dominated the radio and stadiums, was short of pure genius. TMT paved the way for other vocalists to make a niche in jazz like New York Voices, Take 6, Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin, and Dee Dee Bridgewater. TMT has been and still continues to produce fine vocal content. Their performance on Friday night proved that their repertoire has added to their success . Also, having icon Jon Hendricks on stage made it a special and intense evening as well. These guys have worked hard for the last 40 years and show no signs of slowing down. Congratulations on your hard earned success and I look forward to another 40.

The Revolution Will Be Televised,

Nneka: “The Voice of a New Generation”

2010 has become the year of the return of quality music. Artists like Corinne Bailey Rae, Sade and Nneeka have surfaced at a time when music has become shallow and mundane. Last week I attended the record release party for Nneeka’s first American debut for “Concrete Jungle” to a sold-out performance. She performed at S.O.B’s and her record label recorded the live show for an upcoming video. In the hour and a half she performed, I couldn’t help but notice that major record labels like Sony (her label) still believe in signing and releasing artists of her caliber. I mean, It’s been a long and painful battle with her label mate Lauryn Hill, who continues to battle Sony for shelving her last recording project due to artistic and creative differences. Yet, with this being a new decade, I believe Nneeka will become a new voice in music, along with adding more depth to her counterparts like Lauryn, India, Jill, and N’dambi.

Nneka Egbuna was born on December 24th, 1981 in  Warri, in the Delta region of Nigeria. Her father is Igbo Nigerian and mother is German. Nneka sings in both her native Igbo and English. Throughout her childhood, she attended primary school and was heavily active in her church choir. While growing up in Nigeria, she was exposed and lived through some of the corrupt elements of her government and extreme actions of the oil companies that exploited the workers and townspeople. She always wrote poems and songs shedding some light on the atrocities and to escape her daily woes as a teenager.

Upon graduating from high school, she relocated to Hamburg, Germany where she attended the University of Hamburg and earned a degree in Anthropology. Nneka also pursued music where she hooked up with producer DJ Farhot, a producer living in Hamburg. In 2004, she

released her debut EP “The Uncomfortable Truth,” generating a buzz in countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland. When her first full-length disc “Victim of Truth” released, it was well recieved in Germany, England, France, Netherlands, Nigeria and Japan. From then, Nneka toured non-stop, performing at festivals like the Chiemsee Reggae Summer, Haarlem, Den Haag, Saint-Brieuc; as well as in cities like Paris, Amsterdam, and London. Nneka opened for artists such as Femi Kuti, Bilal, Seeed, and Gnarls Barkley.

Nneka’s second album, “No Longer at Ease,” was taken from a novel of the same name by author Chinua Achebe. The majority of the disc was about the political uprising and corruption of her country, Nigeria. Critics began hailing her as the next Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill. Again, the positive press and hit singles on “Ease” allowed her join rocker Lenny Kravitz to open for him during his European tour in 2009.

“Concrete Jungle” is one of the best recordings I’ve listened to so far in 2010. Her debut single “The Uncomfortable Truth” isn’t Top 40 or R & B oriented. In fact, this entire disc is a fusion of her native Nigerian roots music, Caribbean, Afro-beat, Soul, and Hip-Hop.

Nneka’s live performance was indeed authentic and personal. She performed a song titled “V.I.P” that relied on audience participation. The song was about the corrupt nature of the petroleum companies in Nigeria and how the politics of these industries are leaving the common, everyday people left out to dry. During the entire performance, she paints listeners a detailed picture of her experiences both in Africa and Germany, and often you couldn’t hear a pin drop as she was singing.

I dislike how the media is making her out to be the next Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley. Bob was prophet for his people and used music as a way to communicate love, corruption, and empower his music fans. Lauryn is talented in that she could act, write, sing, and had a great marketing team behind her music. Nneka sounds almost like vocalist Randy Crawford and when she plays, her presence is personal and candid. There’s a folk element, mixed the world music and Afro-Beat presence in her music. This seems to be her drawing power in the both the small and large venues she continues to perform in all over the world. So, to compare Nneka to Bob, Lauryn, and Nina; is unfair. Nneka doesn’t want to be either of them. Yeah, it’s safe to say their influences do surface in her music at times, but just listen to songs like “Africans” or “Heartbeat” and you’ll throw those comparisons out the window.

Nneka is one of the freshest talents to hit the music scene in a long time. She’s a growth in process. Each disc is entirely different from all of her other projects and refuses to stay in that mainstream “box” of the the record industry. Make sure you support this sista and buy her debut American release “Concrete Jungle.”