The giant pink bouncy inflatable that was forever being repaired with makeshift patches and the space age sounds of a computer games console (paddle tennis). My first visit to the Blackie was in 1974. Charlie Parkinson and Vinny Adams took me during the Black-E’s exile to Roscoe St. They opened the door for creativity and the opportunity to fulfil your potential.
When I was 9 I lived without the comforts of family or racial belonging. I wrapped myself in escapist fantasies of Ali, Pele, The Jackson Five and Tamla Motown. At the Blackie it was a completely different experience. I met kids like me and entered the world of Afro, bell-bottoms, wing-collared shirts. The Blackie made me see realities in life and my own potential.
At the Blackie I would meet adults who would say things like, “What’s up blood” – “give me some skin” and “stay Black little brother”. For the first time, I saw I was not alone. It was at the Blackie that I was introduced to the sounds of “Funk”, the mother of all Black music. It had a lasting influence on my life. The Sunday Radio Doom Disco at the Blackie will always be part of my special memories.
Since the Blackie days I have pursued the area of black identity. I am now self-taught in Afro-American/ African history. Prior to this I also went through a period of embracing the Rastafarian and Afro centrism teachings. My own life experiences no doubt played a role in my search for identity and educational satisfaction.
I was one of a number of former activists who were invited to meet Nelson Mandela, only 6 months after his release from prison. The invitation was in recognition of our contribution to the campaign for a free South Africa. It was an honour that I will always be proud of. It will always be a special moment in my life.
I continue to progress in my music. I was always determined to learn how to play instruments. I can now play the drum kit, hand drums and the percussion. I still remain an avid follower of Philly soul, roots reggae, club funk, hip hop, neo soul and of course … always the Funk.