The Story Behind the Music

Reverence to your memory, your life’s work, and your legacy, with enough respect, inspiration, and dedication to follow and carry out your dream.

The Story Behind the Music.

The making of my song Role Model, Tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Purposely placed as the first track to my new album, The Songbook of Life.

Since around age 7, I pondered in awe and shared admiration, made bets with my older cousins brothers, and sisters, got sent to my room by my grandparents and away from the table by my mom, when the argument got too heated and I’d slammed my fist down on the table at them… as if in a living courtroom drama.

I’d always felt that the world would be forever indebted to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who’s put his life and that of his families on the line, as he fought and died valiantly in a peaceful struggle, and in the name of equality, and social justice.

Many of our families and friends thought that I’d eventually go into school and study laws, for I was such a fierce debater. Of course, I had to be, since I was the 4 child among 8 siblings. One just had to be quick-thinking, in order to not get run over, railroaded or be left behind. I did not yet live in the United States of America, and perhaps I certainly would have if I did. But at the time, I lived in Honduras, where I grew up as a child. Besides our family’s economic situation took a downward spiral long before I reach high school or college age. Reason for my heading out to sea at 15 to navigate.

Today, this great nation, the United States of America, honors the late civil rights leader every year with a national holiday, scheduled around his birthday on January 15th. Given the importance of his work, much of which continues to ring true today, it’s no surprise that Dr. King has inspired music from a wide range of artists throughout the world, from Prince to Steve Wonder, U2, Paul Simon, Queen, to Elvis Presley, etc. I did the research and realized there were actually 12 songs written by these artists about, Dr. King, as I sat out to write, compose, and produced one about his legacy.

While Stevie Wonder’s iconic song, Happy Birthday, served as the chief architect, and his super creative piece of music helped to usher in and champion MLK’s Day, as an official, federal holiday. This year, I’m honored to join a little side smudge of that list, as I followed some of the greatest musicians on the planet, I, therefore, proudly introduced a song track that offers reverence, respect, honor, and appreciation for a man, who’s battled for equality, gave up his life for such struggle, as he was brutally assassinated. The song track, My Role Model (a tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King), is the first on my album, The Songbook of Life.

Engineered and recorded at Playbach Studios, produced by Guillermo Torres, in Hatorrey, Puerto Rico.

The following is a selection of some of the most notable songs inspired by the late civil rights leader. In their own way, these tracks have undoubtedly helped to keep the dream alive. My hope and prayers are that My Role Model might do the same for the generations that follow.

Here’s a list of 12 Classic Songs Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.:

  • U2, “Pride (In the Name of Love)”
  • U2, “MLK”
  • Queen, “One Vision”
  • Paul Simon, “So Beautiful or So What”
  • Stevie Wonder, “Happy Birthday”
  • James Taylor, “Shed a Little Light”
  • Dion / Marvin Gaye, “Abraham, Martin, and John”
  • Elvis Presley, “If I Can Dream”
  • How MLK Became my Role Model
  • My introduction to the teachings of Dr. king

While being a part Garinagu kid, growing up as a boy, in an English-speaking, expat-Caymanian, Roatanian, West Indian household in Honduras… We were required by grandma’s law of the chancletazo \ belt to first learn to speak, read and write English, prior to entering the school system, which was all taught in Spanish.

We were each required to focus on important historic or current events, subject matter to ask questions, research, read and write about in English. I focused on the Bible, Genesis, the story of Joseph in Egypt,  the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights Movements, and the events occurring in the United States of America.

Nearly 60 years later,  I could still recite psalm 23 in both, English and Spanish, still remember and often return to Joseph’s story as a key point to reference, while advocating for equality and justice during debates.

I believe it was during an interview in 1957, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. first said, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America, is between 11:00 am and 12:00 P.M, as he rejected former President Eisenhower’s justifications issued to White American business owners, as a mandated right to exclude Black people from being able to shop and sit at the Sears and Roebuck’s and other businesses lunch counters.

While at the same time, advocating thus teaching about the benefits and right to integration, an end to segregation for a better America. That same year in December, he was awarded the Nobel peace prize.

Dr. King again repeated this very significant phrase during another NBC interview on Meet the Press on Sunday morning in 1963. Although according to experts, that assertion remains true even today. About eight-in-10 American congregants still attend services at a place where a single racial or ethnic group comprises at least 80 percent of the congregation, according to findings from the most recent of 2012 and beyond conducted by the National Congregations Study, as cited by the Pew Research Center.

Three years after he initially agreed to be a guest on the show, Dr. King made his first appearance on the National Broadcasting Company television program, NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he addressed the legal and moral justifications for the student sit-ins and the federal governments “responsibility of protecting all of the citizens of this nation.”

How Black In Northern Central America Help Spread the Word and Kept the Dream Alive.

Meanwhile, down in Honduras and throughout the Caribbean Island, including Puerto Ricans, who spoke English, hang on to every word he said. There was no English broadcast news anywhere in Central America during such times and no translation available. Except for Radio Belize that came clear across the ocean and was picked up live in Puerto Cortes. Of course, Belize was still under British rule and many West Indians, such as my mother and grandmother got their news from there, which they followed play by play.

The Role Mother Played A Foot-soldier to educate non-English Speaking Black People about the Civil

A few years prior to Dr. King being assassinated, mother had obtained a great job, with Don Manuel Cano and Doña Julita De Cano, owners of Cafe Campana in San Pedro Sula. The job was in another city, and she’d had to leave us behind and being cared for by my grandmother and aunt. Of course, initially, the job entailed domestic work, while mother further prepared herself in English that would enable her to work as a live-in tutor for their daughter, Doña Araceli, who was about to marry Dr. Alberto Downing. During such time English was very limited throughout most of Honduras, except for the Bay Islands, which was then over 99% English speaking, and less than 1% Spanish speaking and bad Spanish at that.

As the months and perhaps years drew by, mother was able to relocate us to the city of San Pedro Sula, as she always said, “without leaving anyone of my 8 children behind.” She was indeed also transferred to work with the newlywed couple. As their first set of children arrived, mother received an assistant, who’d help with the house chores, while mother concentrated on tutoring the children in English. However, she’d convinced the Downing’s; they needed to order American books and magazines by which she could best tutor American history.

Of course, many of these books were based on the civil rights movement, Ebony and Jet’s magazines kept us in step and informed. So every three weeks, they’d be a fresh turnover of books and magazines at Dr. Downing’s home, and I had a fresh batch of reading materials at age 6, 7, 8 years old.  That is how my mother was able to educate us on American history and help spread our knowledge about the ongoing civil rights movement in the United States. So, I would read, and studied about the civil rights movement as if I was studying for a test.

Mostly very impressed, since in Honduras, we did not see any black people dressed in such high fashion clothing, shoes, homes, styles, nor reaching any level of success.

However, though sad, as the tears went by, it was also via these magazines, how we would also follow the play-by-play of Dr. King and Senator Robert Kennedy’s assassination.

I remain interested in African American history, long before writing and publishing books about history. Gave lectures during black history month, at churches, schools, and universities following the publication of Africans in the Americas. Around 2005, as conclusive research emerged that a 15 year old young, Martin Luther King had spent 2 semesters as he worked picking tobacco at farms in Simsbury Connecticut, a committee was formed out of First Church Simsbury UCC, the Then Christian Activities Council, and several other churches, with the intent of creating a memorial and erecting a  statue of Dr. King, thus honoring his legacy, to which I was invited to participate by Rev. Edwin Ayala, (RIP), respectable honorable mentor and the associate director of the Christian Activities Council, (CAC).

We met regularly and fought vigorously to win the battle to present a case that would honor his legacy and keep his dream alive. Of course, it wasn’t until someone suggested that such a statue might be built and erected outside, behind the library and not at the front of the library as we previously agreed. And it was then, we all grew frustrated and against the inept system of entrenched prejudice and walk away to fight another day. Back surgery robs my quest for a fight, and I believed it wasn’t until around 2010, when the local Central High School, wrote and received Grants to researched Dr. King’s time in Connecticut, they also created a documentary that helped them raise $150,000 and designed the outdoor memorial on the grounds of the Simsbury Free Library.

These young people took it to task to complete what the adults had started, but couldn’t fully push to finally get that mighty important task up the hill of challenges.

The following is a brief history and completion of The MLK Memorial in Simsbury, Connecticut outside of the library… unveiled amidst mid-global pandemic, January 18/2021.

The memorial includes five glass panels focused on different aspects of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.

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