Thembisa Mshaka on Abbey Lincoln

Of Abbey's performance in "Nothing But A Man," Thembisa writes: "Abbey Lincoln delivers a tour-de-force performance. But then, those are the only kind she’s ever delivered."

As you all probably know, the great Abbey Lincoln passed away on Saturday.  I never saw her perform live, but certainly respected her for the work she did with Ivan Dixon in “Nothing But A Man”.  I the two albums of hers that I always played were You Gotta Pay The Band and A Turtle’s Dream.  Given her passing, I’m reminded of the powerful “When I’m Called Home” from Pay The Band.

Of course, outlets like The New York Times have done their obits on the legendary singer.  But it’s great to read more personal accounts from friends of what Abbey meant to them.  Thembisa Mshaka is one I liked.  I met Thembisa during my days in the PR game, when she was the editor of music industry publication The Gavin Report.  She’s done many things in the intervening years, the latest of which is her book Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [Entertainment] Business, which is a guide for women wanting to have long-term careers in the entertainment industry.

Here’s a piece of what she wrote:

I met my Abbey Lincoln through my parents. Well, not literally. My father introduced me to her heady mix of soaring and sobering vocal style by playing “Bird Alone” for me many years ago. I’ve loved her voice ever since.

My mother introduced me to Abbey as an actress in the seminal film, Nothing But A Man, in which she starred as Josie. If you don’t know this film, Netflix it and IMDB it. It is a classic story of race and relationships. Abbey Lincoln delivers a tour-de-force performance.

But then, those are the only kind she’s ever delivered.

Read the rest of Thembisa’s thought’s on Abbey Lincoln here.

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