There are certain voices, certain talents, whose vocals are imitations of nature. I don’t mean animal sounds. Putting our imagination caps on, we again enter into Earth’s Paradise. This time, we are aware of those voices, having the power to illuminate hidden acoustics of Earth’s domain. Such voices personify what birds would sound like, if they were able to sing a human song. It is as if they are singing for the birds. Letting them know, in the most artistic of ways, in the most holistic of ways, that they are being heard. That they are being listened to, and that birds’ songs are, too, recognized as hidden blessings of nature’s delight. In their desire to sing, they want humans to listen.
In the context of Black American music and culture, there was one previous songbird, who reminded us of our attachment to gardens. She made it clear to us that our music, culture, and aesthetics also carries a gardenal touch. The world is so used to hearing the rich, hard core, silkened smooth, and sometimes rough textures of Blues, Rock n’ Roll, Soul, Jazz, Gospel, and other musical genres of Black American culture. Yet, there are also those people of our community, birthed from our gardens, who sing our music, in a way which highlights our beingness in gardens. Restoring Black America’s natural element, in connection to nature’s elixir. Performing this healing aura, and removing the pains of slavery’s traumatic past.
That voice, from our garden, is none other than the late, and legendary R&B Soulstress. . .
One of the most Earthly songs, coming from this songbird of Black America’s so is “Loving You.” The opening of song is that of a bird’s chirps. You hear it throughout the entire song. On an even greater note, you also hear how Minnie Ripperton’s voice complements the texture and nature’s sound of the song. Wearing baby’s breath in her hair, the world gets a taste of R&B music, of Soul, reflecting the actual garden, it has been birthed from. A guitar guides the song, and listeners truly experience a nature’s song.
Minnie Ripperton’s sound in the song is a soft enchantment of caramel. If you notice, there is not much instrumentation in the song. The guitar. A bird. And Minnie. That’s it! Nature is her foundation. She wears it, and wears it, well!
Those high pitches, Minnie Ripperton was known for, signifies this balance between daylight and Universal ecstasy. Yet, those particular high notes are comfortable. They are sung in a manner, where people feel alright, with going into that place. There is a level of eloquence that Minnie Ripperton brings to the highest of pitches, which does not strain the ear. In fact, it is done with a level of ease and comfort. It is pleasing, pleasurable, and every time one listens to this song, those musical elevations are anticipated. They truly are the highlight of the song. That musical climax of teaching out towards the natural wonder of Earth’s spacing, they gracefully propel themselves to a Universal one.
What makes Minnie Ripperton a legend in Black America’s gardens, and “Loving You,” a classic, is how it catered to the natural, and Earthly element of Black American womanhood and identity. She didn’t have to move to another culture, or borrow from one, in order to acquire it. She has cultural gardens of her own. She just had to sing the perfumes birthed from them. A scent that Black American foremothers-Maidens and Mothers- had crafted into a delectable alchemy, which depicts the necessity of making familiarity in a foreign land.
If you watch the video of “Loving You,” one notices that Minnie Ripperton is wearing her natural hair; sporting an Afro, with baby’s breath as a decorative piece. This natural essence, and performance, is very important in our culture and community. Why? It’s because of the healthy image it represents, and the healing energies it performs. As Black American people continue to release those generational toxicities, that were passed down from our enslavement in the United States, these images (and songs) are nutritious. They are what our people need to see, in our healing process. Don’t forget, our music is our therapy. In the United States Of America, it always has been, and always will be.
Minnie Ripperton’s performance of this sacred song is also a natural telling that love, and desires to be loved, are part of the fabric of Black America’s gardens. That love continues to exist within our people, in spite of, whatever pains and her/historical discomforts have happened. Love is abundant and is reflected in our culture, and music. It is beautiful. It is healing. Its Divine!
The sacred realm of this song is that it gives viewers a taste, of one image, of what Black American maidens would look like, what we would perform, once we enter into our gardens. Once we are getting properly nourished, acknowledged, and nurtured, in our gardens. There is a restoration in our femininity. Its as if the magic wand of music has come to add glitter onto our very Being, and Beauty. For Black American women, for Black American people, music became our gardens, and our gardens reflected music. In the very essence, we created our paradise, through song.
There is great richness within the video and song of “Loving You.” As simple as the song may seem, as basic as the video may be. There is great richness, and magic, which cannot be seen with the naked eye. It requires one to truly see the story, which is unfolding. Minnie Ripperton is just as natural and as angelic, as they come. When it comes to many of the well-known, Black American women singers of the day, and days prior, many brought out a Soulful richness, which allowed the thunder to cackle. It could make the 7 seas uplift themselves into Heaven’s gates! Yet, with Minnie Ripperton, we are given a different touch. Her voice whispered to the waters. Blowing them so gently, to the point, where we never wanted her to stop singing. The guitar continues to elegantly flow with her voice. You don’t want her to stop. In fact, you wish you were in paradise with her!
Minnie Ripperton invoked that subtle nature of Black American gardens. A certain level of docility, gentility, and nutrition is illuminated. Its that particular element of mystery in Black America, which has not been shown as prevalently, as its other elements. Ripperton performs this particular mystery, very well. Furthermore, she makes it so natural, and as relevant to our people. There are no second guesses. She paints Black America with flowers, and blows us back into the gardens. And, she makes this tedious task look so, effortless. It is in the same way as her singing. Graceful and appearing easy. Its why the high notes are so comforting.
As we continue to reflect, and meditate on the song, “Loving You,” and others, let’s not forget the power of subtle blowing towards the waters! For Black American women, especially with today’s young group of women, this may seem relatively new. However, our beloved legend, Minnie Ripperton, has shown the way. She has given the formula, the blueprint, and the direction to the garden. The songbirds can be heard, through our procession to the actual spacing. All we have to do is listen, and allow the sacredness of a bird’s song, to guide us and sing the way!