Being back in New Orleans, we are accustomed to examining just how enriching the Blues, and Jazz, experiences can be. What is it about New Orleans, which allowed Jazz to bloom from its soiling? What was the vibe like, during that time of Jazz’s initial fruition? What makes the Black American presence there, even more peculiar, than what can be explored anywhere else, within that demographic? Ain’t nowhere like New Orleans, and that’s real, Baby! Ain’t nowhere like it?
When you write about a particular time, during New Orleans, a precocious time in Black American Her/History, there is something about the atmosphere, which is enriching. Somethin’ about the way it has been moved to adopting a unique painting, within the thread of Black America’s quilt. Another question to ponder upon, pertains to Black American Church settings, and how it was different from any demographic in the Deep South. There are diverse periods to the atmosphere. Unique trends permeate the atmosphere of New Orleans. Something about the 20’s and 30’s, and the very cultures of Jazz, which gave the element of moving musically- a way in which only a peculiar people can comprehend.
Listening to those earlier performances of Jazz music, one comes into the spiritual experience, as well. Whispers of Gospel music 🎶🎶🎶 are located, within. This living repertoire serves as a vivacious testimony into Jazz, and other Black American, musical forms; having been birthed from the sacredness of Black American, Church-based cultures. Certain songs and musicians, who included lyrics and Gospel tunes and rhythms, demonstrate the practice of a number of Black American musicians and artists, incorporated Gospel lyrics and tunes into that very artistry, known as. . .Jazz!
There is a kind of specialty, which is connected with such voices. What is even more nutritious is how it created a peaceful, navigation of secular and Gospel music 🎶🎶🎶 within Black American culture. One of such New Orleans’ greats, who was a master in such, is none other the legendary Jazz pianist and singer. . .
Sweet Emma Barrett
She was a different kind of sweetness. Her voice wasn’t too heavy. Nor was her timber and tone, uniquely rich, or diverse in range. However, there was something about her voice, which resonated with people. She may not have been the best singer. However, the texture in her voice painted a basic narrative on New Orleans’ life. If a person has never ventured to New Orleans before, what would they see? What would they expect to see? Furthermore, what can they expect to sell? These are things we can imagine. Listening to Sweet Emma Barret listeners gain a taste of that New Orleans’ sound. There are factors, where people are able to move through the different timbers, designs, and textures.of a particular sound. Yet, for Sweet Emma Barrett understanding Jazz and the New Orleans vibe was simple. Short and sweet, Baby!
Sweet Emma’s vibe and sound made it comfortable for any outside visitor to get accustomed to New Orleans’ livin.’ Her most powerful time came, during the 1960’s. Makes you imagine prior times. Listening to her timber, you desire to venture into that domain. I guess that’s how we can perceive Sweet Emma and her role into the New Orleans’ Jazz scene. She brings that invitation to those of the outside world. Again, she was not the strongest of singers, and her style was not as versatile. Yet, perhaps that may have been her role. She was the entry point in getting others to move through the very perfumes of Jazz music. That’s the great lesson when entering into another musical world. You always find those voices, which invite you in. One of the most comforting elements in moving through the arena is to allow oneself to glide through certain geographical textures and demographics. “Ah!” That’s it! That’s what I have been trying to wrap my thoughts around this whole time. Its the land. Its the process of journeying through a particular land geographic, and using music 🎶🎶🎶 to guide you. There are certain attributes to move you, and that’s alright. What must also be reflected is how the elements of Sweet Emma Barret’s voice takes on the role of that Nana figure. She’s that elder, wise woman, who extends her hand, asking you to come on this journey with her. Initially, you may be afraid, but rest assured her comforting Spirit and words quiet any doubts and fears, taken on this path.
Nana Sweet begins to sing and our intimate journey of navigating New Orleans on foot, bicycle, or a boat ride (near the bayou) continues. Just close your eyes and imagine her singing a wellness sound. You move through different parts of New Orleans-the French Quarters, 9th Ward, the Bayou-and it all comes together. The arenas become colored, as Sweet Emma Barret uses her voice to sway through different highlights of the day. Even if you have never traveled to New Orleans, you imagine the social climate. Those romantic boat rides, with just you and a lover. Those famous, funeral processions walking through the street-only in the New Orleans way. That’s NOLA, Honey. You can’t help, but to swing into the sound, once you jump into it.
We can’t proceed in crafting and designing the essence of Sweet Emma Barrett, without highlighting some of her songs. Let’s not forget her intertwining of the Gospel and secular. Now she could keep the secular, secular, and the Gospel, Gospel. Yet, as in the Spirit of gumbo, when you mix the two ingredients together, they create an auspicious delight. Something about the atmosphere gives you the power to glide through these two worlds. Its intrinsic and a person feels more than alive. In fact, they actually feel, the liberation of music! Forget about what is appropriate to sway to-how you do it, and when! Ignore what is determined suitable to dance to. Who cares? If its healing, and healing feels good, why not embrace it? Adopt and embrace it for all to spread around. There will definitely be certain people bothered by it. However, who cares? The atmosphere is here to stay.
Some of her most iconic sounds include “Closer Walk With Thee,” “Do Lord,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Breeze,” “I’m Alone Because I Love You.” and others deeply show the exchange between the Secular and the Gospel. Again, she made flowing between the two seem natural. A woman could fantasize about lovin’ a man, lovemaking, and have her devotional time with the Divine. Black American mothers and maidens could go out on their Sunday best, and travel to the bayou, in order to experience the oasis and wonders of New Orleans’ Jazz, night life! That was alright, too. Quite honestly, that’s one of the hidden lessons we can learn from Sweet Emma Barrett! She defied what was deemed as “acceptable.” On the contrary, she did her own thang. Now, of course, she wasn’t arrogant about it. I guess we can presume that she went with the natural flow. She didn’t think there was nothin’ wrong with it. And, she guided us to see there was nothin’ wrong with it, either. Sooner, or later, after playing it for so long, the two vibes simply became natural to hear. In fact, one didn’t contradict the other. Simply put, they were allowed to exist, as their own. Faith and the real world in one niche.
We have gotten Nana in the garden. Well, we can say one of them. We have her tune, her beat, and her rhythm. Moving through the natural tenderness of her voice, we are again reminded that we are safe. Not only are we safe, but its alright to simply come on in. Its alright to come in and be reminded of, that time. Its ok to take a trip back to the times, and enjoy what our great ones left for us. There is nothing wrong with that. We can still bring it into the present, and remember that very Sweetness of NOLA, and her tastes of Jazz!
For more information, and to hear the sounds of, on SWEET EMMA BARRETT, you can go on the following: