A Tribute to Irene Day

By Dr. Geneva Cobb Moore

The first African American novelist to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Toni Morrison has been acknowledged by the Swedish Academy for the literary force of her works and their visionary impact as she renders a beautifully poignant and sometimes painful picture of the historical struggle of African Americans. In her novel Sula, for example, Morrison describes the challenges facing the African American community in Ohio, after a long history of slavery, Reconstruction, segregated armies in World War I, and the epoch of Jim Crow racial politics. But Morrison also pays tribute in Sula to the black church and its musical genius, describing one character who visits the “Greater Saint Matthew’s” church where he unburdens his soul because the “tenor’s voice dress[es] him in silk.” Speaking metaphorically, Morrison captures the transformational impulse of the black church and its ability, through music as well as sermons, to inspire and catapult black congregants into a spiritual sphere where their everyday lives are changed into something exceptional and majestic.

For over forty years, the soprano Irene Day has been dressing her listeners in silk and transforming the lives of the people of East Chicago, particularly at the Antioch Baptist Church, where she has been a major soloist and has provided music on various occasions, ranging from weddings and funerals to regular, but inspirational Sunday services. Recently, she sang the Negro Spiritual “Goin’ Home” at the Homegoing Celebration of the late Rev. Dr. Vincent L. McCutcheon, Antioch’s beloved and erudite Senior Pastor. Written in the mode of the second movement of Dvorak’s classic “New World Symphony,” the song “Goin’ Home” naturally fuses elements of classical composition with the uniquely haunting and remarkable rhythm of Negro Spirituals. This is no accident, for the early twentieth-century Czech composer Antonin Dvorak created the “New World Symphony” after listening to Negro Spirituals, sung by the acclaimed Negro soloist Harry T. Burleigh, one of Dvorak’s students at the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. While Dvorak taught Burleigh composition, Burleigh impressed upon Dvorak the authenticity of African American music, particularly the Negro Spirituals, which Dvorak thought was America’s original contribution to world-class music.  As a famed composer himself, Burleigh composed over 200 songs, including “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” “Go Down Moses,” and the moving and sonorous “Deep River.” With her lyrical voice, Irene Day has sung all of these songs to enraptured audiences from East Chicago to Hammond, Gary, Chicago, and beyond. Indeed, she has been the special guest of the United Steelworkers Union at its convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, and she has shared the stage with the late, great Mahalia Jackson and other famous musical personalities. Mrs. Day’s first solo album Touch Somebody’s Life, produced in 1980, and the Twentieth Anniversary Edition of that album, produced by her multi-talented son, the New Yorker Dennis Day, is now on CD and dedicated to the memory of the victims of 9/11. This album “takes us back to church,” as singer-actress Leslie Uggams proclaims.

But my witness of Mrs. Day’s talent is more personal, more immediate, and forever embedded in my long cultural memory. As a product of the former Columbus Elementary School and Roosevelt High School, and a previous active member of the Antioch Baptist Church from the age of six to the age of seventeen when I left East Chicago to attend college, I heard Mrs. Day sing almost every Sunday, under the pastorate of the late and venerable Rev. M.S. Sykes who frequently requested her to sing. After all these years, I can still see Mrs. Day in her flowing choir robe, standing at the microphone with the choir members surrounding her and humming in the background. Whether the song was “The Lord’s Prayer,” “Ave Maria,” “Precious Lord,” or “Balm in Gilead,” Mrs. Day, with her rich, gifted voice and dignified bearing, stilled the sanctuary with a holy hush and lifted us over the turbulent waters of our everyday lives and elevated us into a procession of God’s Chosen and Elect. Quietly, after the conclusion of her lyrical mission, she made her way back to her seat in the choir stand, perhaps with an idea of the rocky mountains she had managed to move that Sunday morning and the memory of the grandeur of the human spirit that she had implanted in a young school girl’s mind.

Certainly, Mrs. Day could have filled concert halls at Carnegie, the Lyric Opera House, and Lincoln Center, or, indeed, at any other great place where such renowned opera singers as Leontyne Price, Jesse Norman, and Kathleen Battle have graced audiences with their much heralded voices. Instead, God gave Mrs. Day another task and another responsibility, which did not necessarily include the trappings of wealth and fame, but certainly the awesome responsibility of making a small town and its ordinary people feel extraordinary. Perhaps this was a greater duty for a lady whose voice resonates with all that is pure, lovely, and decent in human nature, bringing out the best in each of us.

Why this tribute, now, to Mrs. Day? Unfortunately, we tend to forget our own home-grown heroes and heroines, and, sadly, we allow many of them to age, however gracefully, without ever letting them know how they touched our lives and made them immeasurably better. In these postmodern times of human fragmentation and isolation, we can quickly forget the lessons of the past and lessen significant individuals and events to the dustbins of history. We cannot allow this happen through to those individuals who serve as a link to the past and the present. On a brisk Sunday morning, not too long ago, I drove my car from Madison, Wisconsin, to East Chicago, Indiana, where I spent the afternoon with Mrs. Day, dining with her at one of the local restaurants, reminiscing about Sunday mornings and her God-given ability to touch so many lives through her music.

(Geneva Cobb Moore is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a former Fullbright Scholar in American Literature at the University of Ghana, Legon, West Africa. She has a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Illinois, and a Doctor of Arts in English from the University of Michigan. She has published many articles on black women writers in books and academic journals. She is a 1964 graduate of East Chicago Roosevelt High School).

IreneAlbumCover

Irene Day – Touch Somebody’s Life, Soprano

BurleighHarry T. Burleigh,  black music composer DvorakAntonin Dvorak, proponent of  spirituals

 

Columbus Elementary:A Neighborhood School Served Generations and Made A Difference.

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Dennis Day to East Chicago, Indiana in Photos

COLUMBUS ELEMENTARY – (New Addition AKA West Harbor Michigan ave. Extension) As New Addition celebrates it’s 37th Annual Home Coming Community Festival on Labor Day weekend; in homage to the little school that set at the center of the village square and produced so many of the city’s fine citizens, I post this. Thanks Mike Dosen for creating this great page. D.Day 2017
Remembering Columbus Elementary School: “It Takes A Village”

Columbus Elementary school was originally called the 141st Street School. After its opening students at the new school were asked to submit essays on subjects with historical significance as their preference for a new school name. According to my late mother Irene Day-Comer,she was among the new student entrants of six grades to enter the one-story brick building which offered elementary education from K-6th grade. In her recounting of that milestone, starting a new school, her essay she recounts was selected as a finalist. The name she entered for an historical figure was Christopher Columbus. That name became synonymous with the New Addition community and the city’s solution to accommodating the growing post war migration of southern blacks into the industrial mid- western Melting pot. The issue of expanding Washington elementary school led, instead to constructing a new school. Class room conditions at ECW elementary for many students living in New Addition had proved inadequate, with ill-heated and pre-fabricated temporary class rooms constructed as an appendage to ECW upper grades. New Addition’s Columbus School had been the City’s accommodation to the increasing demographic trend of a burgeoning black population into the Indiana Harbor and West Harbor’s Michigan avenue extension. The primarily African American elementary school remained a focal point of education,and recreation for several generations. Some of the Twin City’s finest educators are known to have taught in its sun flooded class rooms and walk its pristine halls in their efforts to prepare black youth to compete
at secondary and post baccalaureate levels in academia. Many teachers at Columbus had difficulty securing full-time placements within white main stream schools in Northwest Indiana and Chicago.Although many of the teachers, were well trained and processed advanced degrees that included master’s level and beyond. An unintended by product of ‘defacto segregation’ from the 20’s throughout the racially turbulent 60’s had been a concentration of black professional excellence within urban schools serving black and Hispanic populations. Columbus elementary became a repository for black educational teaching excellence. Many of the names of those whom were educational trail blazers have faded with the demolition of the one storied school with it’s well-manicured campus greenery, surrounded neatly with shrubs and cotton woods and a playground nestled along U.S routes 12 and 20 on what is now Columbus Drive. Early pioneers whose names are now only remembered through their successive generations of students and their families: Miss Posey, Bessie Owens, Louise Comer, Otelia Champion, Martha Burnett, Monroe Walton, Dr. Norman Comer, Lynell Brown, Ann Porter, Mozelle Wilson, Mrs.( Dr.) Fields, Raymond Scott, Ms. Ross and many un-named but not forgotten dedicated educators. The old school building has since been demolished but the memories of teachers whose living credo seems to have been “It takes A Village to Raise a Child” was embedded in their approach to learning and education long before it became a popular slogan.

Columbus elementary school students and alumni serve in many different fields and careers. The early educational training received there produced physicians, a Director of Public Health, an internationally renowned cancer research physician/ scientist ,Dr. Philip Juan Browning a number of ordained ministers and clergy ,an array of certified Master teachers, many returning to serve as career educators in East Chicago’s public school system and in other States, a CEO and leader in National Law Enforcement issues Charles Bennett of Bennett & Hutt one of the nation’s most successful black owned accounting management firms, lawyers, Registered nurses, a Dietician, a fashion designer, professional athletes, political leaders, the 1st black Fire Chief in EC. And within the state of Indiana, The first black County Commissioner in Indiana history, ABA National Champion, Kentucky colonels and Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Jim Bradley. Former Big 10 track & Field record holder in broad jump champion Louis Williams, Division 1 Football and Basketball players: Freddie Byron, Ph.D stand-out running back at University of Wisconsin, Michael Ard, Ph.D. and former Creighton University basketball star, and the late Matt Julkes ECR sharp shooter and also a Creighton University hoopster; the trail blazing Monroe Walton, star athlete,1936 pre-Olympiad contender, former teacher at Columbus, an educator, principal, coach and the only African American member of ECW’s Indiana State Championship runners-up Basketball team in the 1920s; Sheeny Thomas, prize fighter and sparring partner for Heavyweight Champion, Joe Louis.

Not listed by name are many others, among notable Columbus School students who have made outstanding contributions to their various communities at home and abroad. Some were either commissioned or enlisted among the brave men and women who served honorably in the armed forces of the United States of America. Some served and did not return from battle. This reference is not intended to be conclusive. There are others whose formative education years and mentoring took place in Columbus elementary school. Those who did were fortunate to have benefitted from a true “Community School” experience where the African proverb, “It takes a Village to raise a child’, was lived out for several generations. D.Day Media 2017

D.Day 2017 (c)

Remembering Ossie Davis at the Apollo with Fisk’s Jubilee Singers

Ossie_Ruby Collage

A large, beautiful, personally autographed photograph of Ruby and Ossie hung over my mother’s piano at home. It was a gift to her when her album Irene Day – He’s Everywhere was released. I had gifted them with a personal copy of the album.They both loved her soprano voice.

As president of my alma mater’s New York Alumni Association, Ossie had graciously agreed to serve as emcee for an event I chaired – a free concert presenting the historic Fisk Jubilee Singers at The Apollo Theater for the high school students of New York City, sponsored by Pfizer Corporation. Ossie agreed with one condition; that I write his prepared remarks.

I gladly agreed to the assignment. As a graduate of Howard University, Ossie Davis understood the importance of black students understanding the origins of black American music. And the Jubilee Singers embody the excellence and originality of African American music traditions in spirituals, slave songs, and sacred African American song – perhaps more than any group in history.

The busloads of energetic students arrived, noisy and playful, and packed the theater quickly. Ossie and I had spoken the evening before and I knew he had an early emergency dental appointment and might be running a few minutes late. I was getting nervous after the Apollo’s director and the governor’s surrogate had welcomed the Singers to New York and thanked the students and teachers for being there. Ossie had not arrived and that meant the task of emcee would fall on “moi.”

Luckily, I had written his prepared remarks as a script – a familiar form for the highly accomplished actor and great playwright. As the young Hip Hop-crazed audience grew more boisterous and rambunctious, I began to wonder just how they’d receive the show and whether Ossie would get there in time to bail me out of being the default Master of Ceremonies for 1300 unimpressed middle and high school kids.

Then, from stage right, the tall distinguished black man’s profile appeared off stage. I greeted him and asked him how he felt. He said, “About like you’d feel after a root canal.” I grimaced. He laughed heartily and that put me at ease. We quickly went over key points in the script. He the said, “Right, Dennis, show time!” After Ossie was introduced, the audience calmed down a bit.

Ossie brilliantly brought the words and context into focus for a generation of young people who had no clue what struggles black artists endured during and after Reconstruction to gain critical acclaim as the Fisk Jubilee Singers had achieved. After their first song – always acappela and unaccompanied – the theater was in rapt silence, and except for thunderous applause, remained appreciative through the end.

Ossie handed me the script as I thanked him and his chauffeur for traversing Manhattan traffic to accommodate this event. We both smiled broadly, knowing that the students would always remember hearing their ancient voices and hallowed history in song as performed by the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

In two weeks I will join my class reunion at Fisk in Nashville, and I’ll also donate the script marked on by the great thespian himself to the John Hope Franklin Library on campus. That large framed portrait of Ossie and Ruby that for years graced my mother’s living room was donated to the East Chicago public libraries special exhibits section.

D.Day Media 2018

 

Dennis Llewellyn Day – A Journey to Jazz

  Adapted from an article by Valerie Gladstone

WhiteHat©EnidFarberFoto

When Dennis Llewellyn Day was growing up in East Chicago, Indiana, he fully expected to work in a steel mill after high school. Music may have been his birthright but, being practical, he thought it had to remain a sideline. “I always sang,” says the tall, handsome tenor. “My family has been blessed with the gift of music.” His mother, Irene Day, was a well-known church soloist and concert singer and his sister is classically trained.

Over the years, Day made sure music wouldn’t remain a sideline. Teaching and counseling may have occupied his days but singing filled his nights. Jazz aficionados in Chicago, Washington DC, and New York have become as familiar with his sweet voice as the East Chicago churchgoers of his boyhood.

Never one to do things half-heartedly, Day spent most of his free time in his teens singing with various neighborhood groups, many of which were the first to be integrated. His stages were local street corners and churches. At 15 he formed The Valiants. This was the early ‘60’s, a hot time for music in East Chicago. Day’s group shared managers and rehearsal space with the legendary Dells and were often featured on shows with nearby rivals. The Jackson Five and the Valiants became the first vocal groups to sign on with the Gary, Indiana-based label Steeltown Records, hoping to challenge Motown’s domination of the airwaves.

According to Steeltown President and co-founder Gordon Keith, The Valiants recorded a single on the fledgling label credited to Day as writer and distributed on Chicago’s Destination and Steeltown records, produced by Steeltown’s co-founder, Mighty Mo Rodgers,” entitled “I Shed a Tear” and “So in Love”it  garnered regional acclaim in the mid-west. “The Jackson Five moved on to Motown Records and, as they say, the rest is history,” says Keith, who is now a counselor and minister in Gary. “Dennis decided to leave the area also to pursue his education. It was another big loss to us at Steeltown Records.”

Recalling those early years, being mentored by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Dells, Day says, our two groups rehearsed Saturdays in our manger’s office at his Lumber Yard on 19th and Virginia street in Gary.“I learned a great deal from The Dells about harmony, vocal affect, and control. Marvin Jr., their lead, would tease me about “singing too pretty,” saying I needed ‘a little gravel in my growl.’ “That was never my style. He was only pointing out the range of emotions that all good singers use in delivering a song. I never forgot that.”

Day also counts among his early influences James Pookie Hudson and The Spaniels, local favorites who made the big time with one of the all-time classic hits, “Good Night, Sweetheart, It’s Time to Go.” Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Jon Hendricks, Johnny Mathis and Gospel greats the Roberta Martin Singers and Mel Torme helped to influence Day’s vocal style.

Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and student activism for social justice, Dennis enrolled in Fisk University in Nashville, home of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, who introduced the world to American Black music in the form of Negro Spirituals. Day has always kept one foot in church music and the other in pop and jazz and while at Fisk, he continued the tradition, singing with the University Choir.

On a choir tour he performed a tenor duet under the baton of Eugene Ormandy, conductor of the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra. “Imagine me,” says Day, “a doo-wop street corner singer, fresh out of my steel worker’s sooty steel-toed metatarsal shoes and doing those one-nighters, school sock hops and ball rooms in Gary and Chicago, taking my cue from the Philadelphia Symphony’s celebrated maestro. It was incredible.”

In Nashville, Day formed a new group, Dino and the Dynamics (later named The Jades), for whom he was lead singer. They played to capacity audiences in clubs catering to his unique brand of “Chicago Smooth” and “Southern Soul” rock and roll. Day also became a regular demo artist for Columbia Screen Gems on famed Music Row. Music flowed then in Nashville with Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, and Jimi Hendrix as club regulars along the Jefferson street corridor.

At the end of his freshman year, Dennis won a talent show for which the prize was an extended engagement at Nashville’s Club Baron – a jewel of a music venue on the Chitlin’ Circuit located on the Jefferson street corridor the mid-south’s black entertainment strip. The Barron and El Tropicana’s weekend house band was hosted by such greats as Jimmy Hendricks and his longtime bassist Billy Cox pre-Gypsy Band, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, James Brown, Little Richard, Booker T, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Gladys Knight and the Pips, B.B. King, Billy Paul, and Miles Davis. For his performances, Dennis enlisted a back-up group of three local performers to form Dino and the Dynamics. They played weekends at the Baron to packed houses for several months until Fisk’s President James Lawson persuaded Dennis to abandon his flirtation with the Music City’s allures and focus on his studies.

Although not singing regularly in Nashville clubs, Dennis continued to perform with the group, which had changed its name to The Jades and appeared at a variety of venues throughout the mid-South and in appearances at a number of the region’s colleges, and dances including Fisk and Tennessee A&I State University. The Jades were discovered by Nashville’s legendary record producer Ted Jarrett https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Jarrett who produced  their only nationally charted record, a ballad, “My Loss Your Gain,” on the Poncello Label, with Dennis as lead. The song debuted on the Cash Box Top R&B chart nationwide, was distributed by Decca Records, and is now available on an award-winning CD,in the Northern Soul genre as Music City Soul: From Nashville’s Black Cats – a best seller in the UK and Europe.

Dennis and his Fisk roommate, the late guitarist Frank “Silk” Smith,teamed-up and recorded demo sessions on Nashville’s Music Row for Columbia Screen Gems, Mercury and Capitol Records for Conway Twitty, Charlie Pride, Ricky Nelson, Joe Tex, and Ray Stevens, who wanted to hire Dennis and change his name to Travis Womack. Being under legal age, Dennis consulted his parents who staunchly refused to sign off on a name change and encouraged Dennis to complete his college education.

After graduating from Fisk with a degree in sociology, and completing a Masters degree at the University of Chicago he began a career that traversed the fields of criminal justice administration, education and human services,while continuing his pursuit of music as a life’s ambition and calling. Always pragmatic, heeding his father’s advice , “have something you can fall back on”. He taught Special Education in the New York City public middle schools for seven years teaching and counseling “at risk students” in Washington Heights and the bronx where he obtained New York State principal certification. I realized at some stage, I indeed may need a fall back”so I worked and prepared for  “what if possibilities” as I continued to gig  when and wherever I could?” Through out his music dual careers Day continued to perform in Chicago, Washington DC, and New York City, where he is currently resides with his wife. The father of two daughters from his first marriage, he established a music publishing company, Alylela Music ( Harry Fox Agency Affiliate), and record labels, D-Day Records and D-Day Media Records.

In reflecting on his move to Washington DC in 1980s a period that marked his full return to music. He muses over the deep reconnection he made with music after a few years a few years hiatus,returning for a period, full-time as an artist in venues of sold out enthusiastic performances with the D.C. based Blackbyrds, an award winning jazz/fusion group formed by Howard University’s resident jazz professor,and legendary jazz trumpeter, Dr. Donald Byrd. The group had six gold albums and a Grammy nomination for “Walkin’ in Rhythm” to its credit. It was during this period that Day had the distinction of singing an inspiring solo at the wake service held for the great  heavy weight champion, Joe Louis at Washington’s Nineteenth Street Baptist Church. After a string of featured appearances with The Blackbyrds, Day formed his own group and began playing Metro- DC’s club and festival circuit.

Since his New York debut in 1984 at the Presbyterian Jazz Society’s Second Sunday Jazz series, the singer has continued to pursue dual careers. Appointed by the Governor as New York State’s Chief Fair Housing Officer by day he helped establish fair housing,minority/ womens contracting and civil rights policy statewide. At night he performs with some of the best and has played or recorded with such luminaries Frank Foster, former leader of the Count Basie Orchestra, Clark Terry, Benny Powell, Dorothy Donegan, Ernie Hayes,Valery Ponomarev, Marion Cowings,Noel Pointer,Doc Cheatham, Dennis Irwin,Major Holly, Scott Hamilton,Buck Hill,Shirley Horne,Richard Wyands,John Miller,Jessie Davis,Leon Parker Jr.Billy Kaye,Paul Ramsey, Jackie Williams, Lionel Hampton, Melvin Sparks, Dr. Lonnie Smith,Eddie Chamblee, Art Porter Jr. Nick Collione,Walter Perkins Jr., Bross Townsend,Terry Morrisette, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Mercer Ellington to name a few and he has proudly shared the stage with Tony Bennett.

In New York Dennis spent a year as a member of the Lance Haywood Jazz Singers. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music, and in private lessons with Dr. Michael Warren, Melba Joyce, Andrew Frierson, Jackie Paris, Dr. Richard Harper, Bob Stoloff, Anne Marie Ross, Nancy Mareno, and Miles Griffith.always evolving  with his music and artistic pursuits he has since earned a second Master of Arts degree in Media Arts and documentary filmmaking from Long Island University. Since retirement  Day has pursued his musical aspirations and artistic projects full time.Forming his own company D-Day Media Group and making music, still with the very best. In 2007 Dennis was one of 12 finalists in New York’s annual Jazz Mobile Anheuser-Busch Best of the Best Jazz Vocal Competition. Currently, he is composing new songs working on a third album, studying piano, and performing in a variety of venues.

Usually Day fronts his own group consisting of piano, bass, percussion, and guitar and alto or tenor saxophone. His New York engagements have included The Blue Note, The West End Gate, The Village Vanguard (guest artist with pianist Dorothy Donegan, Minton’s Playhouse, the Lennox lounge), Vissiones,The West End Cafe,ST Nicholas Pub St. Peters’ Concert Series, Fat Cats, Sweet Basil’s,The Victoria Theater, Annual Harlem Week, Programs on the Plaza, One Penn Plaza Summer Concerts, Peter Pastor’s, The Karavan, Greenstreet’s, Al Defimio’s,Blues Alley, Woodrow Wilson Plaza Music Festival in Washington D.C., Constitution Hall,U.S.A for Fisk! The NAACP Capitol Region Telethon for UNCF.The Ebony Fashion Fair of Westchester County. PJS 2nd Sunday Jazz series The Portland Jazz Festival and The Vancouver Jazz Festival’s invitational jam session and a number of other venues including Cancun, Mexico and the Jazz Club in Havana, Cuba El Calle 28. One need only catch Day’s live performance to see that over night success sometimes can be a life time of dedication to what you joyously love to do.

In the 1990s, Dennis released his first album on D-Day Records, Dennis Day For Only You, which includes four of his original songs, “Sunday Morning Sunshine,” “Away with Me,” “No One-Night Stand,” and “I’ll Go It Alone.”

 

 

 

 

 

5_LenoxHerb Boyd, jazz critic for Downbeat Magazine and the New York Amsterdam News wrote in a 1996 article profiling the singer-songwriter, “Dennis Day is a versatile stylist who has an easy and distinctive style reminiscent of Brooke Benton, Marvin Gaye, or the Platters’ great lead singer, Tony Williams, depending on the mood or the music. Judging by his latest recording project, he has an obvious knack for composition, too.

 

Day’s original single Sunday Morning Sunshine features Art Porter, Jr. and TK Blue, in both instrumental and vocal versions.

 

 

 

 

Day’s second album, All Things in Time, peaked at #39 nationwide in College Music Journal’s annual Jazz charts. The album features his original song African Musing, and includes songs from the Great American Song Book with performances by Wycliff Gordon, Stephon Harris, Danny Mixon, and John Dimartino and John Miller. Dennis Day All Things in Time was presented the Grindie Award for Best in Jazz genre 2009 by RadioIndy the Internet Radio music aggregator.

In 2017, Day released a single – his rendition of Billy Vera’s Wastin’ My Time.

Coming in 2018, a new single, Waters of March, and a new album, Dennis Llewellyn Day, Bossa, Blues, and Ballads.

Day remains optimistic about his music. “I still enjoy what I do and as long as others do as well, I’ll continue the musical journey begun a lifetime ago.”

Dennis Llewellyn Day &Camille Thurman “Waters of March (single) from new CD Dennis Llewellyn Day Bossa, Blues &Ballads , Spring 2018 TBA

Link Below: “Waters of March  Spring 2018 D-Day Media Records

https://chirb.it/qhDekp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tribute to Louis Williams: Champion Athlete and Community Leader

Louis WilliamsA Tribute to Louis Williams: Champion Athlete and Community Leader                                                                                 by

Dennis Day President, D-Day Media Group, NY. NY.

 

It is with great sadness I share news of the passing of LOUIS WILLIAMS at the age of 82. As many elder residents of “The Region” may recall, Louis Williams was a towering and historic figure in the fields of sports, recreation and community improvement and development. A gifted athlete and coach, Louis was among the first significant wave of African American student athletes to participate and excel in inter-scholastic sports at East Chicago Roosevelt during the mid 1950s. Later as a collegian at the University of Michigan he held the broad jump record for the Big 10 Conference; a record later broken by U.S. Olympian legend Ralph Boston.

Louis Williams was a world-class athlete and a much sought-after executive leader and advisor within the fields of community development and recreation. He served as a mentor and coach to nearly two generations of youth – boys and girls and young men and women from throughout East Chicago.

Louis “Bodly” Williams was a proud native son of the City’s New Addition community where he honed his outstanding athletic skills on its courts, playgrounds, and fields under the tutelage of his early coach and mentor Monroe Walton. Mr. Walton was an Olympic aspirant who was narrowly defeated by Ralph Metcalf, teammate of Jessie Owens on the U.S. Olympic track and field team, and who later became South Chicago’s Congressman.

Louis Williams used his considerable skill sets, dedication, and commitment to impart the values of pursing a healthy lifestyle through community activities, encouraging sports along with individual and family recreation activities. His athletic prowess and skill for organizational management were developed over years – first competing as a youth attending Columbus elementary school, then through University, and later through competing on special service teams while serving honorably in the U.S. Army.

As an athlete Louis Williams is not a household name like Jordan, Lebron, or Ali but he was a true athlete by skill, temperament, and a proven champion. More importantly he was a person who chose to give back to his community over a lifetime of service to youth and families seeking to find the right path and sound values needed to sustain success in life. Louis lived what he taught and led by example. He was a soft-spoken, strong role model who mirrored character development by his own life and encouraged our youth to acquire solid life skills and important values that, when used with discipline while also having fun, could help lay the foundation for a lifetime of success in broader pursuits. Through his commitment to the positive impact of sports and recreation, Louis helped build strong East Chicago communities.

Louis Williams _Jessie Owens

Louis Williams left, once held the Big 10 Conference Track & Field record for the long  jump pictured with United States four- time gold medalist of the 1936 Olympic games Jessie Owens.Williams died January 17, 2018 at age 82.

Louis, “Bodly” Williams will be sorely missed by loving family, by many friends, and by members and friends of the Twin Cities engaged within the community development and recreation services movement in East Chicago and throughout the Calumet Region and our nation.

R.I.P. (D. Day Media) Jan.18, 2018

 

 

 

East Chicago Ancestral Ties a Link between Two Global Icons of Pop Music

Growing up In my rust belt, blue collar neighborhood,as Al Jarreau sang, “We Got By!”We also took the idea of permanence and job security for granted. Being in the shadows and gravity of Chicago, we seldom looked at the greatness that surrounded us in everyday people with extraordinary talent and determination. Many people are un-aware that two of the greatest artists in American popular culture and history claim their ancestral roots in East Chicago, Indiana.Both Michael Jackson’s and Stevie Wonder’s grandparents lived only six blocks apart.And I lived a few blocks between both their grandparents.Small wonder, Stevie, Michael and their clans were like family; brothers and sisters with each other. They shared a common root and bond with their ancestor’s homes.Now that the once bustling steel city by the lake no longer has gigantic steel mills with fiery open hearths and blast furnaces lighting the skies,like most rust belt cities big industry is no longer and today full- time, solid employment is a scarcity.But at least the”good folk” of East Chicago for generations will always have bragging rights.Their neighbors, the Jacksons and Morris families helped nurture the “best of the best”.And Stevie’s and the Jackson family will always have deep kinship roots in the little steel town on Lake Michigan’s southern shore. D.Day Media 2017Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson both have Grandparents  they visted often who lived in East Chicago, Indiana six blocks apart.

Main&Broadway EC Harbor

Main and Broadway Indiana Harbor

Morris liquorstore and House EC

Morris Liquor Store owned by Bob and Ilona Morris, Stevie’s grandparents, lived next door,The Village of New Addition

Parade EC Mexican Independence

Mexican Independence Day Parade in a once bustling town where Big Steel and Oil refineries assured jobs for American migrants from the southwest and Mexico, Eastern European immigrants, and the great African America migrant wave during the 19th though 20th century.

 

Memories of My Segregated American Swimming Pool

More than a decade ago I decided to interview an aging former neighbor. A lovely woman of great dignity. Maturing ever so gracefully, she personifies wisdom and experience. My hope was that our conversation would yield a unique story and perspective about lifes’ joys and the challenges of raising and educating five children, while managing to earn a degree as a Registered nurse.No small fete as a single mom coping in an urban industrial rust belt community settled by a mixture of northern born blacks and stream of black migrants arriving from the south after WW II,Eastern European immigrants and Hispanic families, seeking work in the steel mills and foundries darting the industrial landscape of East Chicago, Indiana a short commute from Chicago’s bustling South side.

We sat on her lawn near the familiar sprawling empty lot that for fifty years had been the site of the George Washington Carver Swimming pool, a public facility constructed for the recreational use of the City’s sizable black and Latino population. The City of East Chicago possessed an excellent parks and recreation system with well equipped swimming pools, and access to specific reaches of Lake Michigan’s beach shorelines. However there was an unwritten rule for years among black and white citizens that “Carver Pool” was the exclusive preserve of blacks, thus for years a pattern of segregated swimming pools existed as a reminder of the northern racial divide and remained status quo in an arrangement of separate but dubiously equal swimming pools.
What stands out to me from my late summer conversation was the pride my dear neighbor exuded, when she recalled being present at the Ribbon cutting ceremony, dedicating Carver Swimming pool in honor of the great African American Scientist,Dr. George Washington Carver as he spoke softly but proudly of the racial progress made on that glorious day when little black boys and girls would learn how to swim.And swim, we did!

George Washignton Carver (1864-1943)
Born into slavery at birth and stolen and sold elsewhere, George Washington Carver would have never been able to guess how far his love of plants would take him. It was namely his work in crop rotation techniques and in agriculture of the south with peanuts and cotton that he won recognition. It was his invention of different consumer uses of these products that helped boost the economy of the entire country. Taken back to his original birthplace and following the abolition of slavery, he was raised by the family that had enslaved him. They knew he was bright for his age and encouraged him in his educational pursuits. He would go to Kansas for High School as schools farther south were not open to African American attendance yet. When George applied to different colleges, he was rejected once they learned his was black. His name did not reveal his color. Finding disappointment in this, he moved even farther north into Iowa, where he would eventually attend Iowa State University as the first black student. It was during this period that he adopted the name George ‘ Washington’ Carver since there was another George Carver in his classes. Later on in his career, he would become the sole African American faculty member. He even remained there and received a Master’s Degree, where he gained international recognition as a budding botanist. Upon graduation, he was recruited and paid a substantial salary to teach at Tuskegee University. Initially, he was hired by Booker T. Washington, who promoted industry and labor as a way for his fellow African American brethren to rise in society. At Tuskegee, George Washington Carver would stay, completing research and teaching for nearly fifty years. Through his research, he found a variety of uses for the peanut plant. He worked on better concoctions for glue, ink, makeup, oils, soaps, salts, and recipes for the home. It is even claimed that he invented peanut butter. Over the remaining years in his career and life, George Washington Carver did not publish his autobiography, but a lot has been written about his life. He gave advice to numerous presidents, and was aided in his hopes that soy could be used for fuel by Henry Ford. He has had museums, schools, libraries, scholarships, and other awards named in his honor.

George washington Carver

Dr. George Washington Carver for whom Carver Swimming Pool was named was present as honored guest of the grand opening of one of the nation’s few black public supported swimming pools. Carver pool was located in the New Addition section of East Chicago, Indiana a predominately African American neighborhood. Dr. Carver noted : “It was a great day for Negro boys and girls to able to learn to swim.” (Source: Interview 2002 with Mrs. Rosemary Moore, RRN

Swimming pool Carver

Wide shot George Washington Carver Pool inside green exterior foundation annexed to Bath and Shower House for boys and girls

Carver Pool &Bath House NA remodeled

GWC Swimming Pool and bath House was remodeled in the 80s, pictured are government, religious and community leaders.

Carver pool reopens ben Guesyer_ribbon cut

Rededication ceremony of the GWC SwimmingPool and Bath House at Ribbon Cutting, Dr.George Washington Carver actually was honoree at the first ribbon cutting event of the facility which primarily served black and Puerto Rican and Mexican youth throughout the Calumet Region for several decades.