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The Importance of Jazz - A Love Supreme Realized

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Opening Address

to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:

God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.

Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life's difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.

This is triumphant music.

Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.

It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.

Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.

And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.

In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.

"If jazz is the stepping stone that helps us to get through the tuff parts, then what St. John Coltrane called "an expression of higher ideals" becomes the cornerstone. A Love Supreme is the cornerstone. It is the singular voice of one who no longer searches but is found. It is the confirmation and proclamation of self-realization, acknowledgement of the undeniable relationship between God, the individual, and all of creation. A Love Supreme takes us beyond the stepping stone called jazz, and invites the listener to see who you are in your purest state, and give to others the essence, the best of what you are." Pastor Wanika K. Stephens

Definition of Stepping stone: A raised stone used singly or in a series as a place on which to step when crossing a stream or muddy area. An undertaking or event that helps one to make progress toward a specified goal.

Definition of Cornerstone: A stone that forms the base of a corner of a building, joining two walls. An important quality of feature on which a particular thing depends or is based.

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