Auntie Unfiltered Explores the Power of Music

Ever since I can remember, from a very young age, I have known all the lyrics to every single song on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album in the order that they appear on the LP. Both sides.

That album came out the year I was born, and my mother says she played it during her pregnancy with me. I can also remember my father listening to it on the booming 8-track sound system he had in his home office.


That entire album is a personal favorite, and has a sentimental meaning to me that I cannot fully articulate or explain. I just know it’s mine.

On Saturday mornings, I could tell my mama’s mood and her plan for the day by the music she had playing when I woke up.


If Teddy Pendergrass, Peabo Bryson, Stephanie Mills or the soundtrack to Dreamgirls was playing, that meant we had to get our asses up and clean the whole house. We could go outside after we were done, but our morning was locked up cleaning our rooms and wiping down mirrors or cleaning scuff marks off the walls or whatever chore she assigned us.

If reggae. calypso or soca music was playing, it meant she was likely frying fish (snapper and whiting), making peas and rice (in the Bahamas, it’s called peas and rice and not rice and peas, and it’s made a little differently), coleslaw, and baking Johnny cake later that day, and we were probably having company over, which means we still had to clean up, but our cousins were coming over and fun was on the way.

Music is indelibly tied to memory. It is a mood lifter. It gets the party going. It can be the bright side to our darkest days.

Music is a constant factor in my life. I listen to it daily, at ignorant volumes, and I can match every song on my list of favorites to the memory attached to it.


Music can heal, and in this episode of Auntie Unfiltered, Alise Leslie, one half of the dynamic duo The R&B Representers, joins me to discuss the power music has in our lives.

As always, I want to hear from you, so if you have questions, comments, concerns; if you need advice, or if you have a topic you think I should discuss, please hit me up at, and I”ll see y’all next week.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.