Thursday, June 10, 2010

R&B Favorites

Before I was a suburban music mom, I was a suburban music girl and teenager, comfortably protected in relatively homogenous surroundings, happily listening to Bruce Springsteen day and night. That changed when I was shipped off to the large public state university, which contained both people of other religions and (gasp) minorities. At some point early during my freshman year, I was brushing my teeth in the large communal bathroom on my dorm floor and at the same time there was an unseen girl singing in the shower (yes, singing loudly in the shower!), belting out Anita Baker’s Sweet Love. She was singing with such power and emotion that I literally got chills. I am certain no one at my Catholic high school could sing like that! Thus began a love of R&B music and a slight deviation from all Bruce all the time.

Over the years since, I have grown to love Mary J. Blige and John Legend in particular, but there is something about all R&B music that is comforting to me. I recently picked up a free song card at Starbucks and it happened to be a song by Leela James. The song is pretty good but got me thinking in general about some of my favorite R&B songs. I compiled a playlist and have been listening to it for the past couple days, tweaking it as needed.

This morning my teenage daughters and I left for a little road trip to visit some prospective colleges and had to leave at the ungodly hour of 4:00 a.m. Being the good teenagers that they are, they promptly got bored of entertaining their driver and fell asleep, at which point I turned on my new playlist (the girls would never have tolerated that while conscious) and let my inner Anita Baker come out. It was while singing along that I nearly dropped my favorite Alicia Keys song because I discovered that it’s sung at a pitch that is unmanageable for most humans, but I kept it in because Alicia seems to manage it fine and likely didn’t intend for it to be sung by suburban moms. While we might all have a little R&B in us, mine will probably be limited to the car- turns out I sing better in my mind than in real life.

As I write this, my student driver is behind the wheel and we are heading from Indiana to Kentucky, both relatively far from R&B, I believe. Anyway, the girls are awake and we actually have a country station on, which the car radio probably feels more comfortable with in this area. Here is my list (*Mary J. and John Legend songs are simply representing all songs by those artists):

· Family Affair (Sly & The Family Stone)
· Let’s Stay Together (Al Green)
· Sweet Love (Anita Baker)
· Better Things (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings)
· Just Fine (Mary J. Blige)
· Mercy Mercy Me (Marvin Gaye)
· She Don’t Have to Know (John Legend)
· If I Ain’t Got U (Alicia Keys)
· Killing Me Softly With His Song (The Fugees)
· A Change is Gonna Come (Leela James)

Groovy playlist!


  1. if you like "a change is gonna come" i'd suggest visiting the original version by Sam Cooke if you haven't already, one of my favorite songs and singers of all time, also Otis Redding does a pretty good version too

  2. Thanks for the suggestion. Be sure to check out my new location: