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M h LI.
TH UNIVERSAL APPEAL
of America, but it has become univer
sal," said Yusuf. "Jazz transcends
racism and materialism and is a thera
peutic art form for the whole planet."
Yusuf, who was born in Baltimore
Md., on July 10, 1929, listened to Ella
Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Duke
Ellington when he was growing up.
"There was no bad music then," he
said. "There were criteria for cultural
status; you couldn't just buy your way.
Yusuf spoke about black musician's
contributions to jazz. "As African
Americans, I think we have reached our
cultural epitome," he said. "We have produced music
from people like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and
Billie Holiday." He said that much of early jazz began in
New Orleans, where African and European music was
"Music is a social and cultural reflection," Yusuf said.
As customary after his performances, well-wishers
moved toward the stage to meet Yusuf where he received
them graciously. His genuine love for people is expressed
by hugging, clasping of hands and use of the expressions
"brother" and "sister." "I want to do everything I can
to bring about peace on earth, and goodwill toward men
in my small humble way in the name of Allah," he said.
"Brother Yusuf is a humanitarian," said Kathy Johnson
of Carrboro, a long-time friend of Yusufs. "He reaches -out
to all people and tries to bring them together."
Yusuf, a Moslem, said his faith helped, him to find
peace and develop an identity. "I'd like to think that
Islam is an Arabic word meaning 'peace'."
"We as humans, search for peace and struggle for
identity. I wasn't born into peace or Islam, but in a sense
it was the kind of struggle that we have as a people: con
fusion and the search for identity. I discovered peace
The search for identity has been a major problem for
African-Americans, Yusuf said. "As a 54-year-old African-American
I've watched us jump and evolve from
titles like nigger, negro and black," he said. "All of these
titles are really a search for an identity." "We are going
to have to reconcile the fact that we are a people of multi
national identity." "I have come to the realization and
the appreciation that God has. blessed me to have the
blood of at least two continents, Africa and Europe, run
ning through my veins, and I feel good about that. I feel
like a mediator with the bloods of conflicting factions
flowing through me."
At age 15, Yusuf became a heroin addict and remained
addicted to the drug for 30 years. He said the addiction
was a blessing in disguise because he was forced to social
ize with whites when there was a strong black national
istic movement. He was able to benefit from the move
ment without becoming a fanatic. -
Besides his music, Yusuf also expresses his humanitar
ian love through community services that include the
Clean-Up Squad and the Sallam Cultural Center in Dur
ham. Yusuf is one of the founders of Durham's Sallam
Cultural Center which provides a meeting area for local
jazz musicians and community groups.
"The West End Clean-Up Squad keeps me young,"
Yusuf said. The Clean-Up Squad, which Yusuf has
worked with for more than five years, cleans up litter and
initiates community projects in the West End section of
Durham. The purpose of the Squad is to promote com
munity spirit and togetherness.
The name of Yusufs band is Yusuf and Friends. The
personnel of the band often.changes because of schedules '
and improvisations but Yusuf said that there are some
consistencies. "I am Yusuf and you are all my friends."
Yusuf and Friends play frequently at nightclubs in the
Triangle, and Yusuf accompanies many local jazz artists
including Eve Cornelius and Constance Prince.
Yusuf and his wife Mary Salim have lived in Durham's
West End with their daughters, Maryam, 7, and Chrys
tal, 14. He moved from Baltimore to Durham in 1974. "I
love the temperature and the temperment," he said. "It's
city enough to be hip' ;and country enough to be
- Yusuf is responsible for bringing many other jazz mu
sicians from Baltimore to the Triangle area. "When I.got
down here the ground was so virgin and had so much po
tential, I called my brothers," he said. "When you find
the promised land, you call the people you promised to
call when you found the promised land."
Woodrow "Bus" Brown, of the area's oldest, active
jazz vocalists, was one of these. " 'Bus' Brown is like a.
sage. A good human man and a sage," said Yusuf, who
has known Brown for more than 40 years.
Yusuf and Brown work to help local aspiring jazz
musicians and try to preserve classical jazz. "We need to
pass the art form down,'' Yusuf said. "It's our duty and
you don't get no medals for duty. If it the art form of
jazz) hadn't been passed down it wouldn't have gotten to
us. It's a civilized man's duty to pass on cultural art and
the heart." ; ,
Brown, a member of a Baltimore street gang as a
youth, became interested in jazz as a teen-ager. He
formed a singing group and toured with Ida Cox, a
popular jazz singer, for three years. They eventually went
out on their own and lived and worked in New York City
and were called the Harlem Highlanders. Drugs, conflict
between band members and the lifestyle of touring
caused the group to break up after a tour of the United
States and Europe.
After the break-up, Brown returned to Baltimore for
two years until he formed a new band. This band was the
opening act for prominent jazz artists including Ella Fitz
gerald and Count Basie. -
Returning to care for his invalid mother, Brown re
mained in Baltimore for 30 years until he moved to
Durham in 1981.
Today is Brown's 76th birthday. There will be a cele
bration at the Chameleon Club in Durham with perfor
mances by jazz artists including Brother Yusuf, Eve Cor
nelius, and Constance Prince. Tickets are $8 at the door
and reservations are accepted.
- i I
i ' '
A collection of local jazz musicians, above, performs
at the ArtSchool in Carrboro; (l-r) Rich Ruhlen, Steve
Wing, Al Doctor, Robie Link, and David Hassan.
Brother Yusuf, right, talked about his birthday and
performed on Monday as part of the Jazz Concert
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Brother '-Yusuf Salim
Tar HeelLori Thomas
.ing at the ArtSchool in Carrboro
3 part of the Jazz Concert series
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Lady Sings the Blues and Jazz
Tar HeelJoel Katzenstein
. Dynamic Constance Prince
.filled with peace and love for life
By JOEL KATZENSTEIN
Tar Heel Arts & Features Editor -
For music lovers who want to find an artist with the
style of Roberta Flack, the range of Sarah Vaughn and
the personality of Billie Holliday, they need look no fur
ther than Durham, the home of Constance Prince.
A performer of jazz, rhythm and blues, pop and gos
pel, Constance Prince is likely to be one of the best artists
that this area has ever known. At a performance Tuesday
night in the Carolina Union, Ms. Prince made musical
love to a very receptive audience. "Her music is so mov
ing both emotionally and spiritually, that I came away
feeling that I've been through some kind of religious ex
perience," an exhuberant member of the audience ex
plained. ; . ') '..-.
Prince has made regular appearances at the Union for
the past three years, and each time her audience grows
bigger and stronger. With no fewer than 300 people in at
tendance at Tuesday evening's performance, Prince can
be credited with much more than getting up and singing.
Her music, like her attitude, is filled with peace and love
for life, and it is indeed a religious experience to be in her
presence both on stage and off.
Sultry and even slightly seductive on stage, Prince has a
talent for taking her audience "into her living room" and
making each member feel special, unique and welcome.
She does this by moving about the audience and establish
ing mesmorizing eye contact which gives many people the
feeling that they are being serenaded. During her perfor
mance Tuesday night, Prince slinked out into the audi
ence and proceeded to sit on the lap of a very surprised,
but delighted, man as she sang "You Made Me Love
You." Prince enjoys mingling with the audience because
of the exchange that ensues. "People have no idea how
much I get out of each performance.?
Off stage, Constance is a lady in every since of the
word; the words gracious, sophisticated and poised only
begin to describe her. Studying for a Master's in Divinity
at Duke University, she one day hopes to be a Baptist min
ister, and music will be a very important part of her
"I love the Triangle area and I want to stay. Religion is
; a very important part of my life. If you don't have bal
ance in your life you'll go crazy, and many artists in the
area find that they can't survive with just their music in
this area." Prince was referring to the recent closings of
local night spots that offer live entertainment. "It saddens
me deeply to see a community as special as this one unable
or unwilling to support local talent."
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