In Black America Podcast: Music is My Life, Politics My Mistress: The Story of Oscar Brown Jr.
On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with documentary filmmaker donnie l. betts. Long before the recent wave of outspoken poets, journalists and filmmakers began discussions on the current state of affairs; Oscar Brown Jr. was speaking out to the world on all of the topics that confront not only African Americans, but all people overlooked and downtrodden by the government. In Music is My Life, Politics My Mistress, filmmaker betts focuses on the life of Oscar Brown Jr. and his great contribution to our history, which has gone largely unrecognized due to his politically charged speech and teachings.
Brown was most often described as a jazz singer, and he initially achieved fame by putting lyrics to well-known jazz instrumentals like Miles Davis’s “All Blues” and Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue,” but efforts to categorize him usually failed. As a performer, he acted his songs more than he sang them; as a songwriter, he drew as much from gospel, the blues and folk music as he did from jazz. He preferred to call himself an entertainer, although even that broad term did not go far enough: he saw his art as a way to celebrate African-American life and attack racism, and it was not always easy to tell where the entertainer ended and the activist began.