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Chuck Berry Fans Say Farewell to Rock ’n ’ Roll Legend

The celebration began with a public viewing at The Pageant, a music club in Berry's hometown of St. Louis where he often played.

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Source: Wikimedia

Family, friends, and fans paid their final respects to the rock `n’ roll legend Chuck Berry on Sunday, celebrating the life and career of a man who inspired countless guitarists and bands.

The celebration began with a public viewing at The Pageant, a music club in Berry’s hometown of St. Louis where he often played. Hundreds of fans filed past Berry, whose beloved cherry-red Gibson guitar was bolted to the inside of his coffin’s lid.

“I am here because Chuck Berry meant a lot to anybody who grew up on rock n’ roll,” said Wendy Mason, who drove in from Kansas City, Kansas, for the visitation. “The music will live on forever.”

Another fan, Nick Hair, brought his guitar with him from Nashville, Tennessee, so he could play Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” while waiting in line outside.

Fans pay their respects to the rock ‘n’ roll legend Chuck Berry during a public viewing

Bill Clinton sends a letter

After the public viewing, family and friends packed the club for a private funeral service and celebration of Berry, who inspired generations of musicians, from humble garage bands up to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The service was expected to include live music, and the Rev. Alex I. Peterson told the gathering they would be celebrating Berry’s life in rock ’n’ roll style.

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Former President Bill Clinton sent a letter that was read at the funeral by U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay because Berry played at both of Clinton’s presidential inaugurations. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Clinton called Berry “one of America’s greatest rock and roll pioneers.”

“He captivated audiences around the world,” Bill Clinton wrote. “His music spoke to the hopes and dreams we all had in common. I and Hillary grew up listening to him.”

Gene Simmons, co-founder of the rock band Kiss, watches from the back of the room during a celebration of life for rock ‘n’ roll legend Chuck Berry.

Simmons takes the stand

Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss wasn’t scheduled to speak but someone urged him to take the podium. Simmons said Berry had a tremendous influence on him as a musician, and he worked to break down racial barriers through his music.

When Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards spoke about Berry at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s 1986 induction ceremony — Berry was the first person inducted from that inaugural class — he said Berry was the one who started it all.

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That sentiment was echoed Sunday by David Letterman’s former band leader, Paul Shaffer, who spoke to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch outside the club.

“Anyone who plays rock ’n’ roll was inspired by him,” Shaffer said.

Berry’s standard repertoire included about three-dozen songs, including “Johnny B. Goode,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Roll Over Beethoven.” His songs have been covered by country, pop and rock artists such as AC/DC and Buck Owens, and his riffs live on in countless songs.

Berry’s lyrics special

The head of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Greg Harris, said: “anybody who’s picked up a guitar has been influenced by him.”

Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music.

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“He was singing good lyrics, and intelligent lyrics, in the ‘50s when people were singing, “Oh, baby, I love you so,’” John Lennon once observed.

“Everything I wrote about wasn’t about me, but about the people listening,” Berry once said. VOA

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June 21 is World Music Day: Here is what some Musicians have to say!

21st June 2017 is World Music Day. We take a look at the messages that musicians would like to give out today

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World Music Day
June 21 is World Music Day. Attributes of music, Wikimedia

June 21, 2017: Wishing all music lovers on the occasion of World Music Day on Wednesday, some of the Indian musicians say the celebration of music should not be restricted to one day since the “world breathes music, every moment, every day”.

While legendary sarod player Amjad Ali Khan gave his blessings to all music enthusiasts, fusion group Midival Punditz shared a song from their archives on social media.

Here is what musicians had to say on World Music Day:

Amjad Ali Khan: A day in honor of Music. Wish all music lovers a very peaceful World Music Day. God Bless.

Midival Punditz: One from our archives. This was a recording we did in 2006, on World Music Day.

Ayaan Ali Bangash: To be a musician is in itself a blessing as you are really not answerable to anyone but yourself.

Amaan Ali Bangash: Wish you all a very Happy World Music Day!

Papon Angaraag: Wishing everyone a very happy world music day. Though every day should be a music day! Leaving for Spain to perform at IIFA Rocks!

Prosenjit Chatterjee: The music is not in the notes but in the silence in between.

Rekha Bhardwaj: Celebrating World Music Day today!

Zaeden: Happy World Music Day. What are you currently listening to?

Amit Trivedi: Happy world music day to all you lovely people who love music. Music forever

Harshdeep Kaur: Aaj Bhangra paun nu jee karda (Today I feel like dancing) Celebrating World Music Day with friends!

Karsh Kale: Wow… I am on a mural created for World Music Day in Bandra. I have officially tagged Mumbai.

Benny Dayal: Wishing everyone a world music day… May all your lives be inspired with more n more music.

Kailash Kher: Happy world music day to all my awesome fans and music lovers listen and dance to the beats of your soul. Love and live music. When I started in music in 2001, didn’t even know there is a day particularly called World Music Day, now feels every day is World Music Day.

Clinton Cerejo: Does World Music Day apply to all music or just world music?

Sunidhi Chauhan: It’s World Music Day today. Just realized… A very happy and prosperous one to all my musicians and music lovers.

Shekhar Ravjiani: Music and love know no boundaries and languages. That’s why I am releasing my second Marathi single ‘Saavli’ on World Music Day.

Meiyang Chang: Tamilian, Indian Chinese, and Assamese singing a Punjabi song on World Music Day! Funjabi! Sarsa, Agnee Mohan, Papon.

Sona Mohapatra: World Music Day? The ‘world’ breathes music, every moment, everyday. Today is no different, me thinks. (IANS)

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Bob Dylan: Spiritual Side of the Legend explored in Upcoming Book

Scott Marshall's new edition "Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life" investigates into the spiritual life of the legendary singer

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Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life
Spiritual Side of the Bob Dylan is explored in an Upcoming Book. Wikimedia
  • Bob Dylan was majorly impacted by Judaism, Christianity and other parts of spirituality
  • A spiritual side of the poet and its effects on the pop culture is explored in Scott Marshall’s new book
  • The book “Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life” is definitely something to look forward to as it will also be featuring Carolyn Dennis, Dylan’s ex-wife

June 14, 2017: An icon of 1960’s with compositions like “The Times They Are a-Changin'” and “Blowin’ in the Wind”. These were the songs which became a hymn during that time for civil rights and anti-war movements.

Bob Dylan, as known to all, was majorly impacted by Judaism, Christianity and other parts of spirituality. Therefore, it was important to know his frame of reference in contemplation of understanding the influence he was under, perceives Scott Marshall.

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A spiritual side of the poet and its effects on the pop culture is explored in Scott Marshall’s new book. When Marshall was asked why he chose now to write his new book “Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life”, he explained how strong of an impact Jesus and Jewish’s roots had had on Dylan, which are both part of his story.

ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Book Discussion on Arun Shourie’s ‘Two Saints’

“Christianity can have different meanings for different people, as for Dylan, it seems more about the figure of Jesus than the following of an organized religion. Dylan appears to be a child of God, not tethered to any religion for religion’s sake, but trying to pursue the Truth, clay feet and all.” Marshall’s words made sure that it hasn’t been an easy trip for Dylan.

The book “Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life” is definitely something to look forward to as it will also be featuring Carolyn Dennis, Dylan’s ex wife. For the very first time, she has talked about her life with Bob. The spiritual journey of the great artist will be looked through his four decade’s career.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Sierra Leone Grapples with Mental Health Impact of Ebola

Mental health is a much wider problem in Sierra Leone. An estimated 240,000 people in the country suffer from depression.

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Health workers carry the body of a suspected Ebola victim for burial at a cemetery in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 21, 2014.

With the recent Ebola crisis, officials in Sierra Leone have seen a rise in mental health concerns. Mustapha Kallon’s problems are typical. He survived Ebola but lost many family members during the epidemic.

“Whenever I think of my parents, I feel depressed,” he said.

Kallon said he turned to alcohol to cope with his grief. He was still receiving care in the Ebola treatment unit when his parents died from the virus. He didn’t get to say goodbye and doesn’t even know where they are buried.

Ebola survivor Mustapha Kallon says that "when I am among my colleague survivors, we explain to ourselves what we go through, and that helps us to forget about the past and face the future," April 6, 2017 (N. DeVries/VOA)
Ebola survivor Mustapha Kallon says that “when I am among my colleague survivors, we explain to ourselves what we go through, and that helps us to forget about the past and face the future,” April 6, 2017 (N. DeVries/VOA)

Sometimes Kallon goes with fellow Ebola survivors when they visit the graves of their loved ones.

‘I always cry’

“I feel like dying … I always cry when I am there,” he said. “I always feel pity, because I can’t find their graves.”

The corpses of people infected with Ebola can be very contagious. During the epidemic, burying the dead quickly and safely was so important to stopping transmission that proper records were not kept and some graves were left unmarked.

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From 2014 to 2016, the regional Ebola epidemic killed just over 11,000 people. Nearly all of them were in West Africa, with about 4,000 in Sierra Leone.

Mustapha Kallon stands with fellow survivor Brima Bockarie in Freetown, Sierra Leone, April 6, 2017. Kallon said that had he not reached out to others, he might not have been able to get through his depression. (N. DeVries/VOA)
Mustapha Kallon stands with fellow survivor Brima Bockarie in Freetown, Sierra Leone, April 6, 2017. Kallon said that had he not reached out to others, he might not have been able to get through his depression. (N. DeVries/VOA)

Those who survived the virus have faced stigma. Kallon was shunned by his community. It was only through support from the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors that he started to heal.

“When I am among my colleague survivors, we explain to ourselves what we go through, and that helps us to forget about the past and face the future,” he said.

Many of the Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone are going through similar struggles, said Dr. Stephen Sevalie, one of the country’s only psychiatrists.

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“Our data has not been analyzed yet, but I can tell you that mental health symptoms are quite high among Ebola survivors,” he said.

Scientists are studying a host of symptoms now known collectively as the post-Ebola syndrome. Symptoms include loss of eyesight, joint pain, and fatigue, as well as mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Mental health, however, is a much wider problem in Sierra Leone. An estimated 240,000 people in the country suffer from depression.

Help within communities

Florence Baingana, who heads the mental health team with the World Health Organization in Sierra Leone, said that as a result of the Ebola epidemic, the Ministry of Health, with the support of the WHO, has trained 60 community health officers.

“So we are trying to get services down to as many people as possible,” she said. “We are training health workers in psychological first aid so they can recognize and do some listening and be helping.”

Dr. Stephen Sevalie, one of Sierra Leone's only psychiatrists, says mental health problems "are quite high among Ebola survivors." He's pictured at a military hospital Freetown, April 6, 2017. (N. DeVries/VOA)
Dr. Stephen Sevalie, one of Sierra Leone’s only psychiatrists, says mental health problems “are quite high among Ebola survivors.” He’s pictured at a military hospital Freetown

Baingana added that it’s not just Ebola survivors who have been suffering from the epidemic. Health care workers, burial workers and others involved in response efforts have also reported mental health concerns.

Nadia Nana Yilla, who volunteered in communities to help raise awareness about Ebola, said hearing people’s painful stories took a toll at times.

“I cried endlessly,” she said. “For me, that’s my way of dealing with depression. I just isolate and seclude and cry it out … so sometimes if you cry, it really helps. If you can’t cry it out, you have to find someone to talk to.”

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And that is the message on this World Health Day, April 7: People need to talk to someone if they are feeling depressed.

Kallon said that had he not reached out to others, he might not have been able to get through his depression. And although it’s still hard at times, having that support around him helps, he said. VOA