The Quiet Greatness Of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White

VIBE Remembers the legendary Maurice White. 

The thing you have to remember about Maurice White—the dynamic founder of the legendary, elegant funk band Earth Wind & Fire who died at the age of 74 Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles—is that he was never afraid to let others shine. Think about it. A great deal of EW&F’s rich, massive catalogue, which includes such hits as “Shining Star,” “After the Love Has Gone,” “That’s The Way of the World,” “September,” and “In The Stone,” shined a spotlight on group members beyond head writer and producer White. There’s the rubbery bass guitar licks of brother Verdine White; the soaring, otherworldly falsetto of Philip Bailey; the signature brass workouts of the Seahorns.

White knew when to lay in the cut. But the Memphis native, who fought a long, courageous battle with Parkinson’s Disease, also proved to be the ultimate band leader; an expansive, genre-jumping mastermind (EW&F could jump from funk, jazz, Latin, and rock in just one song) who was so in demand, so respected in the music industry that everyone from Deniece Williams and the Emotions to Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond lined up to work with the studio visionary. EW&F’s Afrocentric/cosmic themed album covers made bold, powerful statements. So did their big-budget, arena-ready stage shows, which rivaled Kiss in sheer overwhelming spectacle. Still not up on Maurice White? VIBE presents 10 songs, some known, some vastly underrated, that you need in your life. RIP Mo…

“Sweet Sweetback's Theme” (1971)

The White-led Earth Wind & Fire was just an unknown rag-tag Chicago-based outfit looking for their proverbial big break. Counter culture filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles was looking for a band to inject a blitzkrieg of junkyard funk into his groundbreaking independent film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which gave birth to the Blaxploitation genre. EW&F more than delivered.

“Devotion” (1974, Live Version)

White understood how to get the best out of his gifted players on this standout track from EW&F’s platinum Open Our Eyes, the follow-up to their first million seller Head to the Sky (1973). This soulful overture, co-written by indelible member Philip Bailey, allows ample space for his majestic falsetto, which ranks in sheer heavenly bliss with the likes of Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, the Stylistic’s Russell Thompkins, Jr., and Prince. Go with the live version.

“Drum Song” (1974)

It’s easy to forget that White made his bones early on as a drummer, working with jazz stalwart Ramsey Lewis and his acclaimed Ramsey Lewis Trio. “The Drum Song” is a startling reminder. Not so much an overdone percussive exercise; it’s a love letter to Africa.

“Got To Get You Into My Life” (1978)

In the rare tradition of a song besting the original, this Beatles cut gets a complete funk overall. Like Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 stunning version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower,” EW&F’s superior take on “Got To Get You Into My Life” has become more celebrated than its predecessor. Those sick brass runs? Compliments of the mighty Seahorns, a staple in EW&F’s mammoth sound.

“Love’s Holiday” (1977)

White’s lead vocals majestically stay in pocket on this underrated ballad taken from EW&F’s most commercially successful album All ‘n All. Warning: you may feel the need to break out into air guitar theatrics by the end of this breezy slow jam.

“Let’s Groove” (1981)

What may come off as cheesy wedding reception fodder is really a master class in GREAT sing-along songwriting. When the futuristic talk box intro hits you are given license to boogie in the most absurd manner. A smile-inducing classic.

“Fantasy” (1978)

How intricate was this grandiose, bombastic musical spectacle? “Fantasy” took three months to write and record, and was only finished when White found inspiration after watching the groundbreaking sci-fi game changer Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

“This Is How I Feel” (2005)

One of the last EW&F recordings to feature White, “This Is How I Feel,” produced by Outkast studio vets Organized Noize and featuring Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland, Outkast's Big Boi and Sleepy Brown, is no mere tribute record. The spirited track, taken from EW&F’s critically acclaimed comeback project Illumination, is a shining reminder of the rich influence of a band that often times defied stuffy labels. Thank you Mr. White.

[/videoembed] “Sun Goddess” (1974)

When the aforementioned Ramsey Lewis wanted to update his sound he turned to old friend Maurice White. The results? The inescapable jazz fusion title track from Lewis’ most successful crossover album Sun Goddess would chart both on the black and pop singles charts pushing the long playing disc to gold status.

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“Reasons” (1975, live version)

Another track given new life as a live centerpiece. “Reasons,” a quiet storm R&B staple, never charted but it remains EW&F’s most celebrated ballad. Once again, Baily’s heart-tugging falsetto gets top billing.

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Issa Rae Is Now Co-Owner Of A Natural Hair-Care Brand

Issa Rae is expanding into the world of natural hair care. The Insecure creator and star became the co-owner and face of Sienna Natural, a vegan product line for textured hair.

Rae partnered with Sienna Naturals CEO Hannah Diop to rebrand the company. “I think hair has always been part of my identity,” Rae told Allure. “[Even my] debut was a big chop that I did for Awkward Black Girl.”

Rae’s interest in the natural haircare industry was peaked after watching Diop’s “journey,” in products creation. “I’d been watching Hannah's journey for a while, seeing her developing these products. I got interested in the natural, organic side of hair care. I felt like this was a great opportunity to partner up — not to mention obviously loving what the products did for my own hair.”

Sienna Naturals products are made from “lightweight natural ingredients free from synthetics, harsh chemicals” and “heavy oils.”

The product line includes a Salon in a Box collection for $75, H.A.P.I. Shampoo ($18), Dew Magic leave-in conditioner, and Plant Power deep treatment ($22). Shoppers can visit the Sienna Naturals website to get on the waitlist for product restocks and updates.


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Allow us to reintroduce ourselves… ✨ We are Sienna Naturals and the countdown begins until we’re fully restocked in your shower, so make room! 🚿 Our products are made with lightweight natural ingredients, free of synthetics, harsh chemicals or heavy oils— formulated by women with textured hair for women with textured hair.
 We are so excited to be back with: 💫 Larger product sizes 💫 More accessible price points 💫 A whole new look and whole new face Join the waitlist to get your favorites the second we’re back! Link in bio. Also, here’s your friendly reminder to check your voter registration status.

A post shared by Sienna Naturals (@siennanaturals) on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:00pm PDT

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Mural Honoring Chadwick Boseman Unveiled At Disneyland

A new mural honoring Chadwick Boseman made its debut at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney on Thursday (Sept 24). The beautiful art work was painted by Nikkolas Smith, a former Disneyland Imagineer.

The art installation includes an inscription from Smith that reads: “As a former Disney Imagineer, I had the honor of working on a major children's hospital initiative and Avengers Campus as my final two assignments. Seeing Chadwick's heart for people in-person, and later discovering his courageous battle with cancer, I was inspired to create this tribute to honor his life and legacy. To us, he was and will always be T'Challa. Long Live The King.”

The image shows Boseman kneeling alongside a child in a hospital gown while both make the Wakanda salute. The photo is a nod to Boseman’s many hospital visits with sick children, all while he secretly battled colon cancer. The 43-year-old actor passed away from the disease in August.


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A post shared by Disneyland (@disneyland) on Sep 24, 2020 at 12:18pm PDT

The piece, which will be on display until the end of the year, was Smith's final project as a Disney Imagineer, a job that he held for 11 years.

“This one is special,” he explained in an Instagram post. “My King Chad tribute is now on a wall on display at Downtown Disney. It is a full circle moment for me: my final two projects as a Disney Imagineer last summer were working on the Children’s Hospital project and the ‘Avengers’ Campus. To millions of kids, T'Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman. I'm so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick's life and purpose in this way.” Smith added a note of gratitude to Disney for being supporting of his artistic journey.

See more photos of the mural below.


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This one is special. My King Chad tribute is now on a wall on display at Downtown Disney. 🐾 It is a full circle moment for me: my final two projects as a Disney Imagineer last summer were working on the Children’s Hospital project and the Avengers Campus. To millions of kids, T'Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman. I'm so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick's life and purpose in this way. I am grateful to the Disney family for being so supportive of my journey as an artist. @waltdisneyimagineering @disney @marvelstudios @disneyland 🐾✨ #LongLiveTheKing #KingChad #WakandaForever #Phambili #DowntownDisney #BlackPanther #ChadwickBoseman #RIPChadwick #WDI

A post shared by Nikkolas Smith (@nikkolas_smith) on Sep 24, 2020 at 10:01am PDT

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Breonna Taylor’s Mother Speaks Out After Cops Who Killed Her Daughter Get Off Without Charges

Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, says the system failed her daughter. Palmer posted a painting portrait of Taylor on Instagram on Wednesday (Sept. 23) which she hashtagged, #ThesystemfailedBreonna.

The Instagram post serves as her first public response to a grand jury failing to bring charges against three Louisville police officers for killing Taylor. On Thursday (Sept. 24), Palmer shared a photo of a woman carrying a sign with the Bible verse: “It’s wrong to favor the guilty and keep the innocent from getting justice.”


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It’s still Breonna Taylor for me💙💔💙 #ThesystemfailedBreonna

A post shared by Tamika L. Palmer (@tamikalpalmer) on Sep 24, 2020 at 10:19am PDT


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A post shared by Tamika L. Palmer (@tamikalpalmer) on Sep 24, 2020 at 4:52pm PDT

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron held a press conference on Wednesday where he announced that no charges would be brought against Louisville officers Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and Brett Hankison for killing Taylor. Hankison was the only one among the three to be charged, but not for Taylor’s death.

In an interview with NPR last week, Palmer expressed her hope that charges would be brought against the officers. “I’m hoping to hear that there will be charges,” she said at the time. “That these people will be fired and arrested.” Hakinson is the only one of the three officers to be fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department after Taylor’s death.

Speaking to her daughter’s character, Palmer stated that the 26-year-old emergency room tech was a “beautiful person inside and out.” She pointed out that Taylor “kept saying that 2020 was her year.”

“And she was absolutely right,” said Palmer. “I hate that it came in that form, but it definitely is her year.”

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