“I’ll Always Love My Mama” – My Five Favorite Mother’s Day Songs

Mothers – there’s no limit to the ways they care for us.  They bring us into the world, raise us, teach us manners, kiss our boo-boos and make us feel better.  They support and encourage us throughout our lives and can inspire us well into adulthood.  So it’s only fitting that we have a day to celebrate and honor them.

My love of music came from my mother.  So in the spirit of Mother’s Day I started thinking about some of my favorite mom-themed songs and compiled a list.  Below are my top five (and a couple of honorable mentions too).

Dear Mama by 2Pac

Rest in peace to Afeni Shakur, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 69.  In this touching tribute to his mother, Tupac tells her that despite their poverty, her past drug addiction and his own rebellion, he deeply loves and appreciates her.  Despite their problems, he recognizes the good things she’s done and that she did the best she could as a single mother in her circumstances.  Listen to the lyrics and it’s clear why this is one of hip hop’s greatest and most critically acclaimed songs.

I’ll Always Love My Mama by The Intruders

The same group that brought us the soulful classic Cowboys to Girls brings us this ode to selfless, devoted mothers everywhere.  With Sam “Little Sonny” Brown on lead vocals, the song is about honoring your mother for the lessons she’s taught you, as well as all the sacrifices she’s made in order to support her children.  It’s very uplifting.  Plus the chorus is so catchy!

A Song For Mama by Boyz II Men

When I first heard this song on the Soul Food soundtrack I knew right then that it would be a Mother’s Day classic.  This is one of my favorite Boyz II Men songs, right along with End of the Road and their cover of It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday.  If you ever have trouble expressing how much you value your mom, just play this song for her.  Expect plenty of hugs after.

Promise to Try by Madonna

I love this song, but I’ll admit it’s made me cry.   This was never a single, but it appears on her classic album Like A Prayer.  Madonna wrote this intensely personal ballad about her mother’s death.  Madonna lost her mother to breast cancer when she was only 5 years old, so the song is about a young Madonna struggling to say goodbye to her mother.  It’s a beautiful song, but be prepared to get very emotional while listening.

Blue by Beyoncé ft. Blue Ivy

This is another highly emotional song, but this time it’s from a mother’s perspective.  Beyoncé wrote this song about her daughter Blue Ivy.  She sings about how blessed she is to have her and how much she loves being her mom.  It’s sweet, and it’s made even sweeter by Blue’s adorable ad-libs at the end.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Dear Jessie by Madonna

Another track off Madonna’s Like A Prayer album, Dear Jessie is a whimsical, magical lullaby that you can totally sing to your child when you need a break from “Rock-a-Bye Baby”.  Plus the video features an animated Madonna flying around like Tinkerbell, so that’s pretty cool.

Rosanna by Toto

This song has nothing to do with motherhood.  But it reminds me of my own mother because this is one of her favorite songs.  Love you mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!

A Tall Refreshing Glass of Lemonade

Lemonade

Like many music fans, I was interested in checking out Beyoncé’s Lemonade since she unexpectedly dropped the teaser trailer.   I loved Formation when it was released in February, so I was definitely looking forward to seeing what Queen Bey had in store with Lemonade.

I had a feeling that this would be a preview of her upcoming album, especially after finding out it was an hour-long special.  So like millions of others, I plopped down on my couch on a Saturday evening for the premiere.  While I expected to enjoy her visual album, I didn’t expect to be completely blown away by what I saw.  This was a visually stunning work of art.  Lemonade took me on a roller-coaster journey from pain, anger, and apathy to forgiveness, hope and reconciliation.  Infidelity is the main theme here – Beyoncé is a woman who is dealing with the anguish of realizing her husband has cheated on her.  In reality very few people other than Beyoncé & Jay-Z know if Lemonade is really about their marriage.  But if the latest rumors about Jay-Z making a “response album” are true, it’ll be interesting to hear his perspective.

The album doesn’t just address infidelity.  Another major theme is the strength and resilience of black women, who are very much at the center of the film.  Historically marginalized, black women in America have had to deal with both racism and misogyny.  The visual for Don’t Hurt Yourself – the rawest, angriest track where Bey lashes out at her unfaithful husband – includes the Malcolm X quote about the black woman being the most disrespected, unprotected and neglected person in America.  In Forward, we see the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Mike Brown holding up photos of their sons who were killed by the police.  We see Beyoncé pay homage to her Southern roots as well as her ancestral African roots with the Nigerian face paint in the video for Sorry.  And towards the end we see Jay-Z’s grandmother at her 90th birthday saying that she was given lemons, but made lemonade (which of course is the album’s title).

I bought the album as soon as it became available on iTunes.  After listening to it several times over the past couple of weeks I realized something – I love this entire album.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed an album from start to finish.  Of course I have my favorite songs, but I don’t feel the need to skip over anything.  Each track seamlessly transitions into the next to create a cohesive story.  While watching the visual portion enhances the experience, the audio portion of the album stands well on its own.

Overall – Beyoncé created a classic.  She came, she conquered, she slayed.

Farewell Prince (1958-2016)

It started off as an ordinary work day.  I was at my desk this morning when a notification went off on my phone.  Usually I have a passing glance at these things, but then I saw the shocking words displayed on my screen: “Music legend Prince, dead at 57”.  After rushing to Google and confirming the devastating news, it immediately brought back memories of losing another icon.  I found out about Michael Jackson’s death in a very similar fashion – I was at work, at my desk when one of my colleagues broke the news.  Similar to this morning, I rushed to Google for confirmation.  And just like that day nearly seven years ago, I felt the same profound sense of loss.

2016 has been rough for music fans.  Only four months in and we’ve lost Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Maurice White and a number of others who have been so influential in music.  Along with Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, Prince’s music was very much a part of my life.  I remember being a kid and repeatedly listening to my parents’ vinyl copy of 1999.  I remember singing along to Diamonds and Pearls, which is still one of my favorite Prince songs.  For a long time I played his Very Best Of CD in my car.  There were also many dance classes, parties, and other events where his music wasn’t just playing in the background, but was being thoroughly enjoyed.

Prince was more than just a musical legend.  He was an innovator who wasn’t afraid to chart his own path.  His music could cross genres, from Funk and R&B to Rock and Pop.  He wasn’t confined by rigid ideas of masculinity or femininity.  He was unapologetically flamboyant, looked great in purple and performed deftly in tight pants and high heels.  He was also socially conscious as well as a fierce advocate for artists’ rights, unafraid to criticize an industry he felt was exploiting him and his work.  But Prince also had quite the sense of humor.  He reportedly liked Dave Chappelle’s impression of him so much that he famously used a photo of Chappelle dressed as him on the cover of Breakfast Can Wait.

While I’m sad about his passing, I am grateful for the legacy he left the world.  So thank you Prince.  Thank you for Controversy.  Thank you for 1999 and Purple Rain.  Thank you for taking us to Alphabet St. and Erotic City.  Thank you for Art Official Age and HITnRUN (Phases One & Two).  Thank you for gathering us together and getting us through this thing called life.