Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Lovely Day to Be Out of Jail

The other night I was walking past our Borders downtown (that would be Borders store number 1 for those of you who don't know) and saw a poster announcing that Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings would be doing a performance and CD signing this week and I absolutely knew that I couldn't miss it... especially since it was free! All I had to do was get up early and be at the store yesterday morning when they opened to get an armband and all was set!!

SO... Sharon Jones is a soul/funk singer who is a part of this neo-Motown resurgence happening who has since retired from her former job as a correctional officer at Rikers Island. Needless to say, she will beat you down if you don't applaud. The Dap Kings, her back-up band, is the house band for Daptone Records and were an implemental part in Amy Winehouse's buh-mazing album Back to Black, among other collaborations. If you remember from one of my first posts, I have a huge affinity for this type of music.

You MUST watch this:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - She Ain't a Child No More
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

I had the great pleasure of going to the short concert and signing with Mary Martin, who I mentioned in my last post, as she sang the national anthem for President Obama at the University of Michigan graduation.
Below are some of my own pictures, but here are some from that are of a slightly immensely higher quality than those from my BlackBerry Pearl.


Where are they!?!

Being interviewed by some guy from 107.1-- celebrities EVERYWHERE!

A girl gotsta take her shoes off to give a good performance

My friend Timothy was actually in attendance and standing next to me... she called him up and sang to him!!

I believe this was post "Pony-ing" and pre "Turky-ing"

Post concert was the CD signing and Mary and I didn't have anything for her to sign. 
"Do you think she'll sign this?"

The Borders guy actually told us we couldn't meet her because we hadn't purchased anything from the store but Ms. Jones had a lil' somethin' else to say about that and waved us by.  He is now in the hospital with a broken rib for not obeying her the first time

We also got a chance to chat with Starr and Sandra (that's pronounced "Sahndra" as in "laundry" and not "Sandra" as in "pasty white actresses"... and don't you dare call her anything different!) who are her back up singers appropriately named the Dap-Queens.  Naturally, Mary and I are now Dap-Queens, but only on Thursdays and Sundays. Okaaaaaay.  As a side note... we are smiling because we are with the Dap-Queens, and they are smiling because I told them Mary has sung for the President.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Another National Anthem

Okay okay... so I realize that it's been a while since I last posted, and I apologize! However, I've got a lot to post about in the next couple of days so hopefully what will make up for the delay.  (Because I'm just certain y'all have been waiting with baited breath over these last few weeks.)

It's going to be a tad out of order chronologically... I'm waiting to get some pictures from when my mother came up for my voice recital and our subsequent trip to Detroit.

NOW: for the Presidential run-in!!!  This past Saturday was my last ever day as a student *insert parent's applause here* and I had the great pleasure of getting to see President Barack Obama's commencement speech at The Big House *insert parent's boo's here*!!!! Whatever your political leanings, I think we can all agree that getting to see a sitting president speak is still a pretty cool thing, so keep it clean in your comments. 

We had been getting e-mail after e-mail giving us a detailed list of  things we could not bring (guns, bags, umbrellas, etc) and informing us that the gates would open at 6:30 am and no one would be allowed in after 9:00 am.  Mind you, the actual ceremony didn't start until 11:00 am.   Luckily, my friend Maureen lives two blocks from the stadium and I was able to park there and miss all of the kuh-raziness of catching the bus (in the pouring rain, might I add).

Me and the General.  If you know me, then you understand how big of a deal it was to get up before 8 10 noon on a Saturday
We waited a bit at her place for the rain to subside and then headed out.  People could be seen walking from every direction towards the stadium and once we rounded the corner it was astonishing to see the line of attendees SNAKING all over the place.  It's at points like that that you just switch into "sheep" mode and basically follow the crowd and go wherever the security officers point you. Where that put us was at the end of what seemed like an endless throng of people, only to hear the security guards there telling us that we could go up and around to another open gate.  So we proceeded to do just that, only to be told up there that we had to go back to the end of the line and couldn't go through. 

The line goes back and back and back and back until about Ypsilanti

At this point one of the presidential motorcades came through and in the confusion some of us were able to cut through the other side of the line and get around the other entrance very very quickly!!

Ooooh, pretty lights! (P.S. The girl in the pink hoodie does NOT seem pleased)
It took only about five minutes to get through that gate and then the light at the end of the tunnel: the security check!! So now it's about 9:30, we still have two and half hours until the ceremony actually begins, and my energy level is at buh-zero!  Luckily there was a coffee line inside, and luckily (I guess) it ate up another hour of our time because apparently there was only one coffee pot in use.  I mean, did they get caught off-guard that there were going to be thousands of people sitting around with nothing to do early in the morning?

Annnyway... we then found our seats and only had to wait about thirty minutes before the ceremony started.


Now, it may not surprise a lot of you that I had not been to the football stadium-- also known as the Big House-- in my entire time at the University of Michigan.  Depending on when you check the statistics, it holds more spectators (I kid you not I wrote "audience members" first) than any other stadium in the United States.  As you can see, they left  a section of the stadium clear behind the podium area, but the number of people in attendance I heard being bandied about was somewhere around 83,000.

The arrival of Marine One!

Besides getting to see President Obama speak, the next amazing thing was that my friend and colleague Mary Martin got to sing the national anthem for the President, the thousands of people in the stadium, and the even more thousands of people watching on television.  Some of you may remember Mary from my previous post about Armide several weeks ago, and I couldn't have been more proud to see her sing!!!!

An AMAZING screen capture of Mary after meeting Obama

One of the other special guests in attendance at the speaker's podium was Michigan's governor, Jennifer Granholm.  For those of who you didn't know, she was chosen to be Joe Biden's sparring partner during his practice for the Vice Presidential debate because she's kind of the anti-Sarah Palin.  So.. you know... she's okay in my book.  [Jan, take it out on your blog... not on my comments :) ]

After all the other speeches it was finally time for President Obama's.  Of course it was amazing to hear one of the greatest, if not THE greatest speaker of our time dispensing word after word of wisdom. I was a bit surprised, I'll admit, to hear later that ours was the largest crowd he had spoken to since his becoming the president.

Look! Presidential port-a-potties!!!

    The crowd went kuh-razy... I mean, this is Ann Arbor after all... it's not like he gave the speech in Waco
Now... I'll admit that I chose not to participate with the graduates on the field and there is a small part of me that regrets not taking place in the camaraderie with my fellow graduates.  However, the other, much larger part of me was quite glad to be able to leave directly after the speech, as did around 10,000 other people from what I later heard.  I did make sure to get one last picture with the statue of the Wolverine right outside of the stadium because I knew my mother would want a graduation photo!
I'm ONCE... TWICE...THREE times a graduate!
"The men and women who sat in your chairs ten years ago and fifty years ago and one hundred years ago - they made America possible. And there is no guarantee that the graduates who will sit here in ten or fifty or one hundred years from now will enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that we do. America's success has never been a given. Our nation's destiny has never been certain.
What is certain - what has always been certain - is our ability to shape that destiny. That is what makes us different. That is what makes us American - our ability at the end of the day to look past all of our differences and all of our disagreements and still forge a common future. That task is now in your hands..."
~ President Barack Obama
May 1, 2010
click here for a full copy of the speech

Artist: Stephen Sondheim/ Album: Assassins