By Ron Scott
In the middle of this global coronavirus pandemic, after family and friends, what the world needs most for comforting is good music. There has been a soundtrack for American life since slavery. The rhythmic shouts of slaves as they picked cotton in the hot, burning sun while singing out to each other eventually became a style of singing known as call and response. On Sunday afternoons they performed for €œMassaâ€ and his family as they relaxed on the porch drinking iced tea and mint juleps, and young Black kids fidgeted next to adults singing to a strumming banjo (the instrument was fashioned by Black people in the U.S., adapted from African instruments).
The music and soundtrack of America have progressed exponentially since then. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought live music and participating audiences to a complete halt. Live music only exists through live, online streaming. Such options leave music connoisseurs to their own devicesâ€”dusting off their invaluable vinyl collection to be played on an old school component set. Other are left to call out song titles to Alexa, hit the CD player, or listen to online radio.
The plans for Positive Community Radio (PCR) were on the drawing board long before the coronavirus outbreak, but as fate would have it, the streaming music premiered in May 2020 as the virus raged on.
There are so many choices; every genre from jazz, R&B, gospel and rock have their own 24-hour online music sessions. And there satellite radio, which allows paying subscribers to listen to various genres of music, as well as news, traffic, sports, and entertainment for a monthly or annual fee. So, the obvious question is why start a radio station at all? â€œThe Positive Community Media Company started an online radio station because we didn’t hear a broad range of music on the airways,â€ explained Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief Jean Nash Wells. “We wanted to have something that includes the African Diaspora from R&B, hiphop, and jazz to soca, reggae, and other world music like Nigeria’s Fela Kuti.”
PCR has created an exciting playlist that swings from hip hop to funk and neo-soul with artists like Raphael Saadiq, Q-Tip, and Meshell Ndegeocello, to pianist/arranger Oliver Nelsonâ€™s jazz classic Stolen Moments. Thereâ€™s music from iconic drummer Roy Haynes; Gil Scott Heron; Oscar Brown, Jr; Toni Braxton; Michael Jackson; Billie Holiday; Freddie Jackson; Ryan Porter; Stevie Wonder; Little Anthony & the Imperials; Solange; Nina Simone; Marvin Gaye and Tammie Tyrell; Ray Charles; Erykah Badu; and Chuck Brown (the king of Go-go). There is even a live recording of the velvet-voiced radio personality Vaughan Harper introducing the Jazziacs before they became superstars as Kool and the Gang. Thereâ€™s also a jazz and gospel mix daily from 5:00 a.m. through 11:00 a.m.
Positive Community Radio has introduced a big deal playlist that roars with great music. There are no categories or distinctions between their flow. It is music representing the Black Diaspora in all its swinging hipness. “We want to playm all the music old and new,” said Co-founder and Publisher Adrian Council. “We want our music to influence younger people to broaden their musical palate and get them excited about black music in its many creative forms. As well, older listeners will hear other genres of Black music they might not ordinarily have explored.”
I have been listening to the new PCR station for at least two weeks and happened to hear a few artists not in my usual rotation, but their sound definitely peaked my interest. London-born and raised singer, songwriter, and guitarist Lianne La Havas; Michael Franti & Spearhead, a politically and socially charged group in the hiphop pool; and the soul group D’Influence to name a few. The point is, this station is broadening my horizons as it pertains to Black music and you never know what is coming up next from Albert King to Dionne Warwick or Donald Byrd. Each song is a pleasant surprise. Wells and Council are tagging their sound “Classic Black,” a unique experience in black music.
“The online radio station is a work in progress, we are moving forward to expand the music and keep the playlist updated,” says Wells. “At some point we are looking to add interviews and discussion groups dealing with pertinent issues and topics as they relate to our community.” The Positive Community also has a website, social media, and a YouTube channel to complement this magazine, so online music was an obvious step. “We are faith-based and good always comes from the church, just like music,” noted Council. “Our music is positive, spreading good vibes in the community.”
The Positive Community is the only faith-based lifestyle magazine targeted to the African American consumer in the dynamic New York/New Jersey market. The magazine focuses on the “Good News from the Church and the Community,” and has been publishing for over 20 years.”
The real music that journeys through the entire Black Diaspora can be heard 24/7. Don’t miss soul sounds of the spirit. Find Positive Community Radio at: http://live.mystreamplayer.com/positivecommunity