Friday, 1 February 2013

The Maker's eye

I think I can now better understand what God felt when, after looking at the things he created he said ' it was good'. 

I have always had a creative streak, always had a love for mixing things, decorating, designing, crafts.....the list just goes on. Let me tell you a secret. Due to my background in Economics[yeah...that's my first degree] i always - most times, think of how to turn these my interests into ventures, but i dont always get to follow thru with the desire. Can say its cos, some things are just meant to bring you joy. I'm not saying they can't fill my purse with money, am just saying sometimes its not about the money, but the joy you derive from doing those things. I'm gonna stop this line of thought here, cos it feels like i might just not explain it well enough.

So back to the initial flow of thought, there's this peace that comes with accomplishment....especially when what you have done amazes people. Some can confuse this with pride, but i beg to take my own stand.For me when this happens, i feel really satisfied and pleased. Of course i would be proud of what i have done. I would want to share it with as much people, not because i want them to just go 'oooh' and 'aaah' over it, but because a curious side of me also wants to know what their take on it is. A second opinion can do good sometimes. 

Some of the things i do- decoration, craft works, sewing etc, i didn't learn the normal way. Actually, the only skill i got training for is sewing,and twas for 4mnths. So when i do something and it comes out great,by my opinion and that of many others, i am bound to be really pleased. The picture on the right is a flower vase made with beads.I paid a visit to my sister-in-law one day and she showed me what to do.After making this one, i had to write about it. I sighed when it was done and exclaimed 'it is good'. I had a taste of God's satisfaction when he freshly created the world.

Its a wonderful feeling and I have come to appreciate creativity more. Now, i look at things with more scrutiny. Not because i am being judgmental, far from it. My curiosity takes over and i wander how its maker felt after it was completed. Like a painting, i get to wonder what was running thru the mind of its painter. Take this for instance, i don't know its origin, but i happened on it and am still trying to understand its concept.

The maker's eye is keen and the mind is made. The maker's love runs deep and as long as the work comes out the desired way, he/she is pleased. It doesn't matter what is being worked on; clothes, food items, furniture, paper work, art works, buildings...etc, when its done, the smile of accomplishment on the maker's face is worth all the troubles.

Talk about God the maker. He was pleased when he made us, though sin has stained us somewhat. Still, when He looks at us, he doesn't see the stains, He sees the beauty He declared as 'good' in the beginning. Thru the maker's eye, God sees the himself in us and someday soon, He'll wear the smile of accomplishment. That's the day we finally become what he has always planned for us to be.

There's not a greater joy than seeing a reflection of yourself in your handiwork. I am glad to say I see bits of me in the things that i do and its not by my strength, but by God's help.

Monday, 7 January 2013

After the love is gone...

It's hard to put a finger on a particular event that completely shaped my musical tastes. But I vividly remember the location of the parlor cupboard that housed my grandfather's record player. For the first few weeks after we got a new LP (mostly as a gift), the speakers would belt out a fresh melody or harmony to the entire house. At the point I came into being, we had gone past the point of buying new LPs either because of the economy or because my grandfather just didn't have the time to pursue his music interest along with church and family responsibilities. Thankfully we had a music collection closer to the mid-hundreds in number and there was more than enough to feed me with musically. At this point, my eldest uncle was away chasing a music career of his own; another uncle was away trying to pull off his best impersonation of my grandfather career-wise; while the youngest uncle was well on his way to an scholarship fueled illustrious education adventure.

On occasion, when the impersonator would be home from seminary the house would reverberate with the beautiful rhythmic drums and sounds of Juju music from my grandfather's healthy collection of Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey LPs. I smile now as I replay the image of dancing in the house as we went about our daily chores. When the musician came visiting we usually had Kenny Rogers and Don Williams' guitars strumming in the parlour. He had a guitar that I once wreaked as I desperately tried, without his permission, to learn how to play as a teenager. Now that I think about it it amazes me that he didn't get visibly angry with me when he found out I had cut one of his strings (but I digress). We'd invariable play our way to the Bob Marley classics and Gregory Isaac's Night Nurse. My aunt, the youngest of five kids, absolutely loves to sing and as the LPs years faded away in the late 80s and early 90s she somehow made sure, with the help of her elder siblings, that the house didn't lack new music on cassette.

So as I approached age 10, my musical glands were tickled with contemporary Christian music from the likes of Amy Grant (Angel watching over me every step I take), Twila Paris (Do I trust you Lord), or some other artist (Del Delker anybody?). The career chasing uncle and the impersonator between them somehow contrived to introduce me to Jazz via Take 6. Then the a Capella tapes quietly made their way into the house. By the age where I finally had permission to touch the tape player that sat just above the now mostly idle record player in the parlour, some where well into my teenage years, the major songs we played at home were mostly Amy/Twila sounding. In fact, at this point in my life I thought it was the norm for every proper Christian home to have at least one Heritage Singers album either on tape or LP.

My aunt always sang in the choir and was almost always in one singing group or the other. My Uncle, the now ex-musician, had at this point produced a music album and a couple of tapes with his singing group so that on those times when I was left alone at home I'd pull out the LP or the cassette and sing along to the songs. The highlight of my singing experience back then happened when a guest asked if I was the one singing on the tape when he heard me sing along.

Harmony was a stable of component of the music in my home. One of my folks' favorite stories from my childhood is about how I would wake up when M.J's "We are the world" was playing and sing along then fall asleep afterwards. Occasionally, when my granddad was really in the mood and the cane was well stored away I'll lay in my bed in my room intrigued and a little bemused at the well woven harmonies from the traditional Urhobo music (think Sammy Okposo's wellu wellu) on cassette tapes that my grandfather never quite let me lay my hands on. On these occasions, sometimes, he'd fry dry fish in palm oil with pepper (eriboto) and in the absence of starch (which I never really liked) we'd feast on Bread or Egba depending on how hungry we were and how much fish was available. On the rare occasions when these good times coincided with my grandmother taking a trip we'd even mix in some Sardine with the bread. Take 6, Heritage Singers, and the other groups only served to reinforce my love for harmony at a point when I was old enough to pick up new musical influences on my own. My musical adventure took wings when for some reason my grandfather left the radio/cassette player in the boys' room after one of the increasingly sporadic visits of one of his sons. I remember having to turn the volume really low because I was scared he'd not only tell me to turn the radio off (which he did on a few occasions) but also take the radio away completely. I'd listen over and over again to Roberta Fleck's killing softly and Sister Sledge's Frankie and Sonia Spence "Jet Plane" on cassette. Then at night, I'd listen to R 'n' B on the radio and mimic artists whose names I'll only know when my now dead brain cells and dormant brain matter get re-activated at His second coming.

R 'n' B for me was a natural progression from the early influences of Juju, Country, and Contemporary Christian music of my childhood. I remember one vacation I spent with a family friend where I stumbled on Toni Braxton's “Unbreak my heart”. I so loved the song that I stopped/paused/played the song over and over till I had written down the lyrics. The older boy in the house laughed at my teenage love sickness and joked about how I was learning the song for a girl. But I attended an all boys boarding school and I didn't really have a serious female friend at at that age. I just loved the intensity and harmony of the song - the purity of the music. In college, my musical tastes went absolutely bunkers - at least that's how I think my grandfather would have reacted if he heard what I listened to - but the one thing that never changed was the purity that my musical ear buds demanded. I still don't know jack about it's musical epochs but I picked Vivaldi and Albinoni along with the classical music staples (Bach, Handel, etc). Then, thanks to Take 6, I picked up Jazz proper - from Chet and Miles (both of whom I absolutely adore music wise) to Ella and Nina and even to Kenny G (not really a big fan) and Yellow Jackets. I never really picked up Rap music - I think Eminem's Stan is the only rap song in my collection - but I don't think that should come as a shock given where I came from music-wise. Apart from the very rare and occasionally rap song, I've come to appreciate slow rock - yes, Cranberries left their mark on me - and even on occasion listen to dance and electronic and, shame on me, pop. As I've grown older, genre has become nothing more than a way for me to quickly navigate through the thousands of songs in my music collection.

The other day I was talking to my lovely kid and I mentioned Sade and she asked who Sade was. Then I played her a Sade song and she was like "Sade can't sing". I accept that I'm mostly naive in my world view thanks to the sheltered upbringing I received but what kind of future are we creating when early teens hold Taylor Swift and Selena in higher esteem than Sade?! Of course, I'm kidding and, quite frankly, it takes more than just music to make a better world.

But music is one of the purest expressions of human experience and life – and I'm grateful for the beauty and purity of the music that I've experienced and enjoy. That's all I'm saying!