September 24, 2020

Great Big Story on CNN and as a downloadable app

When all of the negative and scary news starts to get you down, consider visiting the Great Big Story initially launched by CNN.

Short documentaries on various POSITIVE topics might just keep you from slipping over the edge. I especially like to have these clips playing when I exercise, cook or clean.

The link I included will send you to a Great Big Story on Hungarian piano-maker David Klavins who is veering away from Steinway, Fazioli and Bosendorfer in a big way.

https://www.greatbigstory.com/stories/piano-maker/?xrs=CNNHP

The Great Big Story site hosts short films on a myriad of topics that will amaze and uplift you. For kicks, type “Paris,” “London,” “China” or “Italy” in the subject line which will bring up short films for those of us who would prefer to be traveling the world right now.

Politics, illness, floods and bad economic news will become background noise, at least for a few minutes.

You can download Great Big Story from your app store or go to the GBS link:

https://www.greatbigstory.com

Ibrahim Ferrer – Afro-Cuban singer and musician

Some may remember the marvelous 1996 recording, “Buena Vista Social Club.” Surely one of the most endearing world music Afro-Cuban singers to be highlighted was Ibrahim Ferrer who had a marvelous last chapter as an entertainer. After officially retiring from music in 1991, he was brought back to record with the Cuban All Stars in 1996, followed by performing on Ry Cooder’s Grammy-award-winning “Buena Vista Social Club.” The recordings garnered him world-wide popularity. He toured Europe with groups and as a soloist until his death in 2005 at age 78.

You don’t have to know Spanish to enjoy this Latin standard about a perfidious lover.

Perfidia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDT-xuqpH2U

Havana goes on my travel list with its vintage cars, pastel buildings, delicious food and soulful music.

Eric Whitacre: Rock star of the choral world

Online recordings are all the rage now, but here are a couple of works by Nevada native, composer, speaker, choral conductor and handsome dude, Eric Whitacre.

A young girl sent him a video of her singing one his his choral compositions. He hit upon the idea of having multiple singers send in recorded choral parts and assembling them into virtual choir performances.

Enjoy these two clips.

Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre – 2009
Poem by Edward Esch
185 voices; 12 countries; 243 tracks.

Sleep by Eric Whitacre – 2010
Over 2,000 videos from 58 countries.

Interesting to note that as a teenager, Whitacre had been in a rock band, but could not read music when he started undergraduate study at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada. He persevered to graduate with a degree in Music Composition.

His body of work to date includes choral works, orchestral pieces, a musical and music for film and television.

Library apps: Overdrive, Hoopla and Libby

Libraries have two strikes against them during this Covid-19 outbreak. They are not considered essential services and they risk attracting numbers of people who may catch or spread the disease. I understand the rationale, but if ever we needed the comfort of books, it is now.

Library apps to the rescue. If you have a library card number, you have access to a wealth of downloadable material on at least three different apps. Overdrive lets you download e-books, audiobooks and magazines like Oprah, Newsweek, Prevention, House Beautiful and Forbes, among others.

https://www.overdrive.com/explore

Hoopla not only carries ebooks and audiobooks, but movies, comics, an impressive catalogue of recorded music and a treasure trove of television shows both old and new. The library card holder is limited to six selections per month however.

https://www.hoopladigital.com/my/hoopla

Libby, an off-shoot of Overdrive, specializes in audiobooks and ebooks. The user is able to set preferences like genre, language and availability. One can explore new releases with the ability to put holds on the most popular titles. Libby estimates how many weeks one will have to wait for a title. I always have one or two books downloaded from this easy-to-use app.

https://www.overdrive.com/apps/libby/

If you have the money, please order a book from your local bookstore. If, however, you are pinching pennies, you can be grateful Overdrive, Hoopla and Libby apps are free. We have our public library system to thank for this. Books, to my mind, are essential.

Carrot and Stick approach

Now that we know the shelter in place period is extended to the beginning of May, we need to take ourselves in hand. This means setting projects and deadlines for ourselves, as well as keeping daily regimens that give us a sense of structure and purpose.

I am now using the “carrot and stick” approach in order to get things done. As Steve Delchamps laughingly told me, he had been availing himself of far too many carrots and almost no sticks. I have been part of that club, too.

Educational, inspirational or funny video clips are an easy way of rewarding oneself for completion of a task.

The Dating Game with Steve Martin

The Dating Game and Physical Fitness

Exercise for 30 minutes and you get to watch this hilarious video clip of Steve Martin on The Dating Game in 1968 (linked above). He has dark hair! The female choosing a bachelor is Dina Martin, daughter of crooner, Dean Martin. Thanks for the link go to friend Jim Koudelka of Lincoln, Nebraska. This 9 minute clip is either horrific or delicious, depending on your point of view. Then again, my millennial friends asked me who Steve Martin was. Sheesh.

Great vocalist and bass player: Esperanza Spaulding may add to your cleanliness

Clean a room in your home for 30 minutes and your “carrot” could be a couple of videos featuring young bass player and vocalist, Esperanza Spaulding performing at the White House on two separate occasions.

On the Sunny Side of the Street (Catch Michelle and Barack grooving on the music of Ms. Spaulding.):

Overjoyed written by Stevie Wonder:

Famous Singers Explored: Fado singer Amalia Rodrigues

I decided to do feature posts on famous singers. I begin with Amalia Rodrigues, the renowned fado singer from Portugal. Fado means “fate” in Portuguese which indicates a fatalistic and somewhat dark cast to this passionate style of songs.

Rodriguez started her singing career in 1935 and started touring internationally in 1943. She was especially popular in Portugal, Spain, France and Brazil. She became known as the “Queen of Fado.”

Her most fruitful career time was in the 1960s with concerts world-wide in Europe, the U. S. and the former Soviet Union. She died in 1999. Rodriguez remains the most successful Portuguese artist in history. Her recordings remain timeless.

Here is a Youtube clip of her singing: