Aretha Franklin passed away earlier today in her home in Detroit. The Queen of Soul sang the National Anthem at not one, but two World Series, and gave us this amazing version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame:”
In 2013, Aretha Franklin was awarded the Beacon of Change Award by Major League Baseball.
Thank you for your contributions to the world and, especially, to baseball – may you rest in peace, Ms. Franklin.
What do the symphony and baseball have to do with one another? Apparently, a lot. Glenn Donnellan is a violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. He is also the inventor of the “Electric Slugger,” which is kind of a violin made from a baseball bat. Last night he played the National Anthem on it at Nationals Park.
Here’s a clip of him performing the Anthem at Camden Yards in 2011:
Here he is at Nats Park a few years ago discussing his unique musical instrument:
This is so amazingly cool. Just another example of how baseball, music, and art influence one another…
The other day I walked past the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, and was surprised to see a familiar face staring back at me. Right outside the museum was a poster featuring Babe Ruth. It was an announcement for a recently opened exhibit. Naturally, I had to go inside and check it out.
The exhibit, One Life: Babe Ruth, depicts several points in Ruth’s life through several images, including photographs, videos, caricatures, and drawings. The coolest part is that the entire exhibit is in both English and Spanish. I’m pretty sure the Babe would love it.
The exhibit runs through May 21, 2017, so there’s plenty of time to get to DC and check it out.
Today at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama will be treated to a talent show featuring students and mentors from the Turnaround Arts program. Among others, the program will feature recent music school graduate and former New York Yankees star, Bernie Williams.
Turnaround Arts is a program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. The purpose of the program is to transform struggling schools “through the strategic use of the arts.” According to the program’s website, “Turnaround Arts brings arts education programs and supplies to a group of the lowest-performing elementary and middle schools in the country. These resources help schools improve attendance, parent engagement, student motivation, and academic achievement.”
Now that he’s a college graduate, Bernie will be serving as an ambassador for the Turnaround Arts program and will be working with Jettie S. Tisdale School in Bridgeport, CT. In conjunction with his visit to the White House, he will be visiting members of Congress to discuss the Turnabout Program.
This may not necessarily be a case of where baseball and politics work together, but it is definitely a case of a baseball player sharing his other passion – music – for the good of the community.
On Saturday night, group of friends and I braved the almost single-digit temperatures in the D.C.-area to see the play, “God Bless Baseball,” by Toshiki Okada. Naturally, the title alone intrigued me. But the play turned out to be seriously deep. Basically, it’s about Japan and Korea, their relationship to each other, as well as their relationship with the U.S. All told through the lens of baseball. The play is presented in Japanese and Korean with English subtitles. It starts out with a man teaching two women about baseball. At one point an Ichiro impersonator is added to the mix. A far off voice speaks to them.
And then it gets seriously weird. But fascinating at the same time. According to one summary, the play “addresses the current social and political climates of Japan and South Korea, where baseball is deeply rooted in popular culture. Through an episodic narrative and incorporating Okada’s distinctive style of hyper-colloquial speech and subtly choreographed commonplace gestures, God Bless Baseball unearths images, conflicts and personal and national memories related to the sport, while offering a humorous yet cynical allegory depicted by the naïve adoration that two brothers (personifications of Korea and Japan) have for their parent (America).” Talk about your Baseball Sociology!
After performances in New York; Chicago; Philadelphia; Columbus, OH; and College Park, MD, the show is now off to Taiwan. For now, I’ll just leave you with a clip from the Japan Society of New York, one of the play’s sponsors.