Wednesday, January 14, 2009


With a title like "Are You Really Ready for Black Power" and an inauguration of a new president soon, what better time to revisit Gary Byrd's 1972 political jazz/funk classic?

Gary Byrd has been a controversial figure as a radio talk-show host in the '80s and '90s, appearing weekdays on radio station WLIB in New York City, one of several outlets owned by African-American businessman Percy Sutton's Inner City Broadcasting corporation. Byrd's musical roots extend to the '60s, when he met Stevie Wonder and wrote the lyrics for his songs "Black Man" and "Village Ghetto Land." He and Wonder teamed again in 1983, when Byrd co-wrote the historical/inspirational tune "The Crown," which was issued as a 12-inch on Wonder's Wondirection label. Wonder co-wrote the number, and also produced and sang on it. Byrd was a disc jockey in England during 1984, hosting a gospel radio program Sundays on the BBC titled "Sweet Inspiration." He wrote a poem about Halley's Comet for a European Space Agency broadcast, and later did oral narratives for syndication that were short portraits of African-American heroes.

The song comes from the B-side of a 45 (the other side being "Every Brother Ain't A Brother"). It was produced by Buddy Scott and arranged by Chico O'Farrill.

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