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I won’t bother with a ton of excuses for my absence.

I haven’t been working twenty-five hours a day. I haven’t been traveling 8 days a week. I wasn’t battling the swine flu or even the avian flu.

I simply didn’t feel like writing here. I’m still not sure why I suddenly lost interest in something I love. The few times I was asked, I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t. Hopefully, my time on the therapist’s couch every other Monday will bring about some answers to that – and some other pressing questions.

If you were following me on Twitter, you would know that I haven’t been spending the summer curled up in a fetal position. Perhaps I just needed an extended period of writing in 140 characters or less. Writing some of these posts took a lot out of me, regardless of how simple it may have looked!

Let’s play catch up, shall we?

During my hiatus:

I celebrated my birthday by taking a spa vacation to Arizona. Another thing crossed off my “bucket list.” I stayed at a resort with a glorious view of the most awe-inspiring rock formations. I had spa treatments every single day I was there.  I spent my actual birthday with strangers at a Japanese steakhouse and had a wonderful time. I laid by the pool, read and listened to music. I had drinks on the patio at night and enjoyed the sounds of absolute silence.

I attended the Capital Jazz Fest the first weekend in June. The lineup was one of the best ever. I was blessed to see Will Downing’s return to the stage. Never looked or sounded better. If you still don’t believe in a higher power after hearing his story and seeing him perform, I feel sorry for you. NOTHING like seeing Lalah Hathaway and Rahsaan Patterson on the same stage. I have had a serious jones for Pete Belasco for years and was beyond excited to finally see him perform. What can you say about En Vogue? They straight transported me back to the 90s and made me long for a girl group today worthy of the brain power it takes to retain the words to their songs and learn the dance steps. You can see their entire set here. I somehow managed to lose an SD card out there so unfortunately most of the videos I captured are lost.

I braved a rainstorm to see my favorite band ever, Earth Wind and Fire perform for only the second time in my young life. I don’t regret it for a moment. Nothing but death was going to keep me from it. I had multiple eargasms when Phillip Bailey sang “Reasons.” He could have had his way with me that night.

Ledisi turned me out and then turned me loose in June. I can’t wait for her new album, Turn Me Loose, on August 18th. If you haven’t seen the cover, hustle on over and take a look. A true work of art if I must say so – best album cover I’ve seen in a minute. Even those that have never heard her name will be intrigued and want to know what’s inside.

If you don’t have Laura Izibor’s album, what in the blue hell are you waiting for? She came back to DC and performed at the historic Kennedy Center and then later that night had her DC album release party and performance. Even with a slightly toned down performance because of the venue I would assume, she (and her killer band) still rocked it. She is indeed the truth. Don’t sleep when she comes to a city near you.

Black Music Month continued on in the right direction with the Anthony Hamilton, Chrisette Michele and Musiq lineup. I’ve always liked Musiq’s performance when I’ve seen him but this time I loved it! Unlike some of the other attendees, I appreciated his effort to try to entertain a bit more and not just stand rather stoically and sing. The fact that he was rocking with an all-girl band was the icing on the cake. Anthony Hamilton got a fan for life in me. He had a broken leg and still managed to turn that mutha out! Lesser performers would have canceled the tour. But he made it work. We won’t talk about about he has stepped up his sex appeal to the nth degree. Looking very nice and sounding even better.

Four days later, Michael Jackson died.

I’ve yet to stop tearing up when I hear his music or see his videos. I feel like I’m mourning a member of my family and it’s going to take a while. I still can’t stand seeing that 1958-2009. I can’t take it!

I think I’m stuck somewhere between bargaining and depression in the five stages of grief. Over the next week, I had to be around people who “got it.” I actually un-friended people who were too dense to get it through their thick fucking heads that the focus needed to be on the contributions this man made to the world – as a humanitarian and as a musical genius and not on what the pain –  mental and physical ultimately did to him. If you truly love music, you have to appreciate MJ for the impact he made on so many genres, so many real artists. I disconnected from several people that didn’t seem to get that. Apparently, I had nothing in common with those folks. We can’t agree to disagree. There is no valid opposing point of view there. Yes, it was that serious.

I know a lot of people are over it and have moved on to the next big story – although the man will STILL not be in the ground by the time I press publish on this post, which is an epic tragedy. However, I must point you in the direction of a few phenomenally done tributes that said all I could not say here. These folks cried the same tears I cried. Keep these in your archives and teach your kids about real music.

Michael Jackson: The Five Stages of Grief

Remembering Michael Jackson (an amazing roundup of audio/visual tribute links)

DJ Stylus Remembers MJ with His DC Family (Best tribute party I attended because it was done from the heart by two musical geniuses in the making – and not just a thrown together list of songs that would get booties on the floor. Full free download available.)

My Hero Ain’t Molest Them Bitch Ass Kids- Phonte’s Teary Eyed Tribute to the King

I already know you were glued to SoulBounce’s non-stop coverage. If you weren’t, I’m not sure you should be reading this blog.

I already expected a helluva tribute to MJ at The Soul Sista Summit (featuring Yazarah, Conya Doss, Maya Azucena, and Sy Smith) after hearing Sy on the radio the day before talking about how she had auditioned to go on the tour with him. If you haven’t already seen it, you should definitely listen to her share her story about the audition followed by a cover of one of my favorite Jackson 5 songs, “Show You The Way To Go.”

What I wasn’t ready for was Yazarah to completely reimagine “Billie Jean.”

I was so grateful I was at this show instead of witnessing the BET debaucle live. THIS was a tribute and the perfect send-off for the Essence Music Festival.

Aside from the special brand of hot fuckery I had to deal with in the final hours before the trip, I had a fantastic time at the shows. Music lovers were already salivating over the lineup so I don’t have to recount that here. I thought I would do a special post but that didn’t happen. I tweeted live the entire weekend, including the painful Maxwell performance, his coming out party of sorts on the eve of the release of BlackSummers Night. Apparently, no one cared that it didn’t go off without a hitch. The album is selling like crack in New Jack City.

I have yet to finish uploading all my video. I still have most of Zap Mama’s set to get up. If you’re subscribed to my channel though, you’ve already seen sets from Lalah Hathaway, Eric Benet, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Brand New Heavies, Kindred, Robin Thicke, Maxwell, and Neyo to name a few.

Anita Baker is back as if she never left. She opened her set with “Been So Long” instrumental, which is the inspiration for this post title. That woman hasn’t lost a step. I was so disappointed that people were asleep during her set. I know the hour was late but she didn’t deserve that. She entertains with her voice. Hell, I’m fascinated watching her move across the stage. She doesn’t need to do much more for me. She’s currently touring. I’m thinking of seeing her in Atlantic City over Labor Day weekend.

I must mention Solange, who really impressed me with a high energy, very cool set. I have to give her album a serious listen and stop letting the horrific memory of the black voodoo her sister spread over the Superdome during her performance keep me away from what appears to be decent music.

Melanie Fiona. I know you’ve heard this name and if you haven’t, you need to catch up. She was a shining star at the festival and I am checking hard for her. She has real talent – singing and performing. She gave us a good preview of the album, which I’ve already listened to and given my stamp of approval. Check her entire set out live here and support real music.

That weekend after returning from Essence, I got my Fertile Ground fix and got a preview of what we can expect from the new Deborah Bond album coming in October (prayerfully).  I sincerely hope she can tour because there are few that can bring her brand of energy to the stage. She’s just fascinating to watch…and listen to!

This past weekend…yes, there’s more….I attended the John Legend and India.Arie tour. I promise to come back and give that show it’s own post with video because when I say that is going in my top five list of concerts I’ve attended this year, I’m making a statement for someone that hits five a month. Killer performances by both artists. Catch this tour if it comes to a city within driving distance. Hell, take a road trip!

I ended the weekend with  Little Dragon from Sweden who breathed pure fiyah all over that stage. Almost everyone I personally mentioned it to was like “who?” Well, the packed house definitely knew who they were and the energy was amazing. I know have a girl crush on the lead singer, Yukimi. SHE.GETS.DOWN. Until I can school you here, get on over to YouTube and get into this.

That’s been my summer musically in a nutshell. This is probably the longest post I’ve ever written so maybe by the time you finish reading this, I’ll have written again.

I’ll update my concert calendar so you can keep up with my other adventures. Of course, again, there’s always Twitter!