March 29, 2007

My Friend Shirley…The Woman with The Voice of an Angel – Pt. I

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:02 am


As I have said many times, God has blessed me with so many wonderful friends and family during my ride here on the LifeTrain. I blog about as many as I can in my Obituary. I also blog about my “family” here, out front. Anyway, one such wonderful and dear friend is my beloved sister, Mrs. Shirley Murdock. I call her the woman with the Angelic voice from God because of something that I experienced being with her at the Apollo Theater in New York.

It was the late 1980 something, I was at a concert featuring the now deceased Roger Troutman and Zapp, Howard Hewitt, and of course the first lady of the Angelic choir, Shirley.

I was sitting on stage, behind the backdrop curtain watching the concert. After Shirley’s set she came backstage and sat beside me while the next performers were setting up. We talked until the group started playing and it was then that I experienced her gift up close and personal. She started to sing along with the group.

Now, I think I recall Zapp doing “Computer Love”. As I sat there beside her, listening to her sing (that close), chills ran up and down my spine. I mean, of course we know the gurl can straight SANG, but being that close to her, it was a moment I have never forgotten. What a gift from God. I just glory and wonder at how God gifts people, like the parable of the talents. Take Michael Jordan for instance. I was not just so much a fan of Jordan as I was in awe of the majesty of God. He created Michael, He created the birds, flowers, stars, music, you, me and an angel called Shirley Murdock.

By the way, please check out the Tom Joyner “Skyshow” this Friday. My sister will be bringing down the house.

At this point it is my pleasure and privilege to introduce to you, again, I say again because I am sure most of the passengers on this Train know her already. However, here’s some information on the lady herself and her new CD entitled “SOULFOOD!”

SOULFOOD is what musical chef; Shirley Murdock has been cooking up in her recording studio of a kitchen lately. She has made an undeniable imprint on the Quiet Storm R&B radio format over the last twenty years with signature hits such as the goldselling “As We Lay,” “Go On Without You” and her Husband.” She’s also a woman, who has survived a whole lot of heartache, pain and pressure to conform to how the public and the music industry perceives her ministry. Through it all, she’s traded her tears for laughter, and in her own words, “I’ve gotten beauty for ashes.” Her sophomore gospel recording, “Soul Food,” is a multi-format CD that is meant to touch the hearts and souls of every Shirley Murdock fan, whether they love her as the woman behind “As We Lay” or the woman who sang on Bishop T.D, Jakes’ Sacred Love Songs. “The whole cd is meant to encourage you,” she says with ebullient joy. “It’s like a buffet of great messages, inspiration and praise and worship. If you just go and get you a plate, you’ll have a full course meal of everything you need.” The album was born from Murdock’s heart. “A lot of people want to hold me hostage because of `As We Lay’ but they fail to understand that the song never glorified infidelity,” she protests. “It dealt with a real life situation. The fact that it was infidelity got your attention but the meat of the song was about consequences and hind sight being 20/20. Baby, you got to count up the cost because you may not be able to afford that thing.” As she and her husband, Dale Anthony DeGroat (an associate minister at 2nd Baptist Church in Springfield, OH), began to write and produce soul Food themselves, they were looking for songs that talked about consequences and solutions to consequences. “I Love Me Better Than That,” was one of those songs. “It’s an empowering song,” she confesses. “I sing at conferences and prisons. I wanted the CD to reflect total ministry because we’re body, soul and spirit. A lot of times, in the body of Christ, we aren’t balanced. We know how to do church but do we know how to be a wife or a husband and develop relationships? So, I wanted this CD to speak to every part of who we are. I see every kind of woman, broke down, disappointed, dreams broken, low self-esteem – just issues. I wanted a song that would empower them. We need to get back to who God says we are but there may be some things blocking us from being who we were really meant to be. So, I suggest that we roto-rooter our lives and realize that before you love anybody else, you must first learn to love yourself.” She was in Dallas, TX starring in a musical play a year or so ago and had gone to Heaven 97 AM, a local radio station, to do an interview for the play. “We had just put the CD out on CD baby so that it could bless the people in that way. I let an announcer named Antonio Johnson at Heaven 97 listen to a little of the song. He really liked it and started playing it. The phones started lighting up and people wondered how they could get it.” Johnson took up the cause and began calling friends at recording labels to suggest that they released the project. His contacts at Tyscot Records agreed to take on the project and a new chapter in Murdock’s musical cook book was birthed. The project simmers with soulfully reverential ballads such as “Thank You,” an a cappella song that Murdock layered with her own vocals for a celestial atmosphere. “It’s a very simple song. It came out of my personal praise and worship time.” The tune, “Praise Him” was also birthed in Murdock’s private prayer time. There’s a track called “You are My Righteousness” that Murdock says has “been in my spirit for ten years. We were made righteous not because of anything we did but because of Jesus’ righteousness.” The savory stew of “The Invitation/Nothing But The Blood” opens as a meditative, spoken word ballad where Murdock invites the listener to come to Jesus and know Him for himself. It then, morphs into a song celebrating the sacrifice of God. “More Than A Conqueror” starts off with an acoustic feel and builds into an explosive paean of praise. “That’s scripture,” Murdock explains. “I go on to say in the song that, `I know you have trials, I know you have temptations but God has given you the strength for every situation. You are more than a conqueror.’” Then, there’s the soothing taste of “Rhema Word” that Murdock says, “simply says: `Speak to my heart, speak to my mind. I’ve gone to my friends and they are in trouble too. I need a fresh word from God. I’m going through and I need help.’ It’s really a prayer asking for answers.” Those are the kinds of prayers Murdock summoned when she was at her lowest moments. When her beloved mother suddenly died in October 1998, “I told the Lord,” she says as she relives the pain. “Everything I know about you and everything I’ve ever heard about you has got to kick in now. I was crying and carrying on and the spirit of the Lord said to me, `that [your mother’s passing] wasn’t about you. But I made a promise to her that when her work was finished, I’d bring her home to rest.’ After that, my tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy. I still get a little sad because I miss her, but I’m able to rejoice now when I think of her.” Then, a few months later, her mentors, Roger Troutman and his brother, Larry, died in a mysterious fratricide that is still a mystery. “I know they loved each other,” says Murdock. “I don’t know what would happen to make Larry hurt Roger and none of us will find out the answer on this side. But, we’ll know the answer by and by.” However, Murdock’s picnic also features party jams such as “The F.O.G.” which stands for the Favor of God. It’s a funky, old school throw-back to Murdock’s days in the Zapp Band camp. “It’s really funny and funky and the remix has the vocoder and all that traditional Zapp sound to it,” she laughs. The remix even features a cameo by Zapp members, Bigg Robb & Sure 2 B, who also produced the infectious vibe. “Shout Now” is a foot-stomping track perfect for running up and down the church aisles. Backed by the Solid Rock Church Fire Choir featuring Jana Mitten and Paula Ewell, this tune packs a mouthful of loud praise. “Don’t wait ‘til the battle is over, don’t wait ‘til the victory is won, …shout now!” Murdock exclaims. Murdock’s husband joins in on the festive reggae Rumba, “Oh To Know Him.” The collection is rounded out with a live version of “I Love Me Better Than That” which was recorded at a Bobby Jones Gospel Explosion in Cincinnati last year. The song has all the charm and soul of Murdock’s greatest R&B hits and should find a home at urban adult contemporary radio. This musical soul food is the bread and water that has sustained Murdock all of her life. She was born the youngest of three girls and three boys in Toledo, OH in the late 1950s. “We were the black Brady Bunch,” she cracks. Her father was an assembly line worker at a factory and her mom was a surgery assistant. “My upbringing was great but my parents divorced when I was nine years old,” she says. “I had some rough spots with my Dad but we made up.” Murdock’s mom kept her brood in church and she was weaned on the spiritual nougat of Rev. James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar, Aretha Franklin, the Clark Sisters and the Hawkins Family. ““I would take songs like `Hypnotized’ by Linda Jones and learn how to do runs. I was attracted to those runs. I also grew up on Shirley Temple and of course, there was a connection with her name,” she laughs. “I saw the Jackson 5. I saw kids having an opportunity to do what they dreamed of doing and I wanted to do that. I’d use a hairbrush for a microphone. I’d use the broom for a bass guitar. I used to lock myself up in the bathroom because the acoustics were so great. My brothers would always be calling for me to get out because I was taking long doing my shows.” After she was born-again, sanctified and saved in 1972, Murdock’s biggest dream was to become a professional gospel singer. “In the early 1970s gospel music was not what it is today,” she concludes. “It was a very tight field. There was Andrae Crouch, the Hawkins Family. Later on, there was the Winans. It was a very small ship to get try and get on board and there wasn’t a lot of room. Those doors didn’t open for me.” Still, she kept pushing and hoping for an opportunity. Her cousin took a recording of Shirley singing gospel to Roger Troutman of the funk group, Zapp, circa 1983. Troutman had no connections in the gospel music industry but he was amazed by Murdock’s voice. Roger offered her a deal that she initially refused. “I said, “Lord is this you?” Going into secular music wasn’t my plan; I just was being who I was. I wasn’t going to leave church and just be out there in the world doing drugs and drinking. After prayerful consideration, Shirley received release in her spirit from God to accept Troutman’s offer. He asked her to move to Dayton so that he could spend time getting to know her and training her. When I got to Dayton, Roger had me doing background vocals for projects and it was like boot camp. It was God ordained. I met my husband, got married and had my child in Dayton. I had a positive influence on Roger’s life in Dayton. My family moved to Dayton and did some positive things. I don’t think they would have had the same opportunities had they stayed in Toledo.” Success came quickly for Murdock with the release of her debut project “Shirley Murdock!” on Warner Brothers Records’ subsidiary Elektra Records. After her initial hit, “No More,” stormed the dance charts, the tender ballad “As We Lay” shot up to #5 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and also charted nicely on both the Top 40 adult contemporary and pop charts in 1986. She continued to enjoy several hit recordings and was at a gathering for her pastor that Bishop T.D. Jakes attended in the late 1990s. They talked and he invited her to perform songs such as “The Lady, Her Lover, and Lord” on his Sacred Love Songs project in 1999 on Island/Def Jam. When Island closed its black music division, Jakes launched his own Dexterity label. “I had told Bishop Jakes that I always wanted to do a gospel cd, so when he opened Dexterity, he called me and said here’s your chance to do that CD.” The Home project received a warm embrace from the gospel world and reached #9 on the Billboard gospel albums chart in 2002. It was a dream come true that Murdock feels may have never happened were it not for her secular career. “I never pursued a secular career,” she testifies. “It came to me. It opened an opportunity for me to take the gospel into the secular market in a way that many gospel artists cannot. All of my R&B cds had a gospel or inspirational song. I was doing an R&B concert and I had a gospel segment in my set. This waitress came up to me after the concert and said, `I wasn’t supposed to work tonight but I’m glad I did. I used to be saved.’ I said, `Used to be?’ I told her, `Honey, God is married to the backslider!’ Right there in that club, she gave her life to God again. It wasn’t traditional church but it’s where God ordained for me to be.” “My life would not be full if I did not have an opportunity to sing gospel,” she says urgently. “I was signed to Warner Brothers to do another R&B album when Bishop Jakes came into my life and offered to have me sing on some of his projects. I went to Roger Troutman and told him what I wanted to do. The first thing he did was release me from my production deal with him because he knew this meant a lot to me and he respected that. The second thing he did was that he got Warner Brothers to release me. He jumped through a whole lot of hoops but he did it. Without him, it would have never been done. That was in late 1998 and Roger died in April 1999. I would not be the person I am today without what he, Larry and his team contributed to my life. I’d rather have had them and lost them, then to have never had them. I didn’t leave secular music because I was doing anything wrong. In the end, when my story is told, I don’t have to defend myself. God, who knows who I am and what my purpose is, is my defense.”

2007 Soul Food (Tyscot Records)
2002 Home (Dexterity Records/EMI Gospel)
Billboard Gospel Albums Chart Peak: 9
2001 The Very Best of Shirley Murdock (Elektra Records)
1991 A Woman’s Point of View (Elektra Records)
Billboard Albums Chart Peak: 22
1988 Let There Be Love! (Elektra Records)
Billboard R&B Albums Chart Peak: 19
1986 Shirley Murdock (Elektra Records)
Billboard R&B Albums Chart Peak: 9

March 28, 2007

Mid-Week Service – Of Natural Causes, by Guest Speaker – Phil Ware

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 5:30 pm

So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified – (Romans 15:7 NLT).

Come on by the Church, join the Mid-week Service!

March 27, 2007

Chuckie’s Song of the Day! Hint: “BUCKEYES!”

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 3:06 am

Two for Tuesday Baby!  Two bands from Buckeye land!
Ride the LIfeTrain!  Click: HERE

Go Buckeyes! Click: HERE

Hang Up That Phone!

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 1:50 am

If your lover, spouse, whatever has issues about intimacy and closeness I have found that it is “fruitless” to cling. Clinging will make them feel closed in and claustrophobic because they will feel like they have no room to breathe from your relentless trying to get them to prove that they are not going to leave you. I recently saw a real, REAL close friend of mine react to his wife telling him, “This isn’t working for me”, “I’m done with this marriage”, “I’m out” she said. It was amazing how his faith in God and the realization that, even though he didn’t want his marriage to end, he realized that clinging would only make things worse.

Its human nature to have a hard time falling in love with someone who’s bombarding you with phone calls or pleas for reconciliation. A desperate, clinging person doesn’t leave a chance for the other person to figure out if they will long and yearn for you, or if it is in-fact…over… It’s difficult, but you can’t be so available that the person doesn’t have the space to fantasize about, or miss you enough to see if it (the relationship) is over, which unfortunately is sometimes what falling in love is all about.

Desperately clinging can lead to a vicious cycle. The more the person distances, the more you want to cling. I know it’s hard, I recently had to resist the urge to cling myself, but I truly know now…it gets you nowhere…so…Let it go…no need to call.

Even with this insight and knowledge, the urge to cling can be irresistible. You know with your rational mind that your behavior isn’t appropriate, but you are driven by a compulsion you feel you can’t control. You feel actual discomfort when you don’t carry out the compulsive act. …and it is…a compulsive act.

What is the healthy thing to do when you’re having a compulsive, irresistible urge to call? First, give yourself permission to experience the tension and your feelings. Remember the “EIGHT COUNT” I wrote about? Take it, take the eight count. Tolerate them (your feelings) until they pass. And they will pass. Feelings are just temporary. That’s the trick – to feel your feelings, and to not act them out. It will take a great deal of self-discipline and work. It’s easier to feel something, give in to your feelings and act out. Holding in your feelings, experiencing the feelings, and not acting them out is known as containing your feelings.

A warning: You will feel tension when you are in the process of containing your feelings. You’ll probably want relief from the tension because you’ll actually be uncomfortable. This discomfort will drive you to want to call them (A metaphor), because what you want is immediate gratification from the release of tension, Remember however, the anguish and pain you may have to go through if you are (again) rejected, and you don’t get the response you yearn for.

Now, I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE! GO TO THE GYM!! Go to a gym and work out when you want to make “the” call. If the gym is closed, Just go out and run or walk. People ask me how I lost weight. The secret is in this paragraph.

It is of paramount importance for you to understand that just because you contain your feelings, you should not prevent yourself from expressing feelings to others. I cried on many a shoulder and I want to take the time to thank each and everyone in my support group. However, they were trusted non-judgmental friends. The last thing you need is more negativity. If you absolutely must go it alone, then do so with the assurance that other people have done it and so can you. Not the best situation, but certainly possible to do.

The whole point of resisting the urge “to call” is that the person that has left you, you’ve just go to realize that by not sharing your feelings with them is to avoid the risk of getting rejected, hurt, and humiliated. Every time you get rejected you reinforce any feelings of un-lovability or desperation you might be struggling with.

And even if they do respond to your “call” positively, you may feel momentarily comforted and closer to them, but soon the anguish will return, because you’re still not together and then – you’ll have to work through your feelings of loss again, doubling your amount of work.

Going through the pain without them may seem like passing through a crucible of fire, but if you Don’t Call That person, you’ll feel triumphant and confident of your own inner resources. Trust me, my real, REAL close friend did it and so can YOU!

ALL ABOARD! …The LifeTrain!

March 25, 2007

Restore Us Lord…

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:30 pm

Let all the Saints assemble and give praise! The Church doors are open, the Deacon, Deacon Dan awaits with todays message coming from:

Psalm 80:7 Restore us, O God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

The Church is located on Main Street (see “MAIN” to the right of your screen).

March 23, 2007

Date Night W/Chuckie – KISS Principle 2nite

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 10:53 pm

KISS – Keepin it So Simple…(But with a purpose)
Tonight’s date is a real date with me. Tonight’s date is dedicated to all of those who have dealt with rejection.

We dine here: (CLICK) and after we ate would would do this: (CLICK) . You look so cute in your pink outfit and shades, you go gurl! I’m looking pretty dapper myself, but then, with you by my side…I’m the kissed frog, transformed to a Prince…Charles Prince. Can this night get any better as this song comes over the speakers on the porch: (CLICK).

As we sit on the porch; lazily rocking, I ask you if you hear that sound in the distance…It’s a Train, …Maybe it’s the LifeTrain. Question: Am I the only one who thinks that the sound of a train, way off in the distance, has some sort of a soothing almost hypnotic, make ya mind drift for a spell type moment?

Anyway, the real-ness. I begin to tell you about some very profound comments left on the LifeTrain today which dealt with a post I blogged about concerning rejection. I want to first very seriously say that I have enjoyed each and EVERY comment left on the train. I try earnestly not to be respective of persons as I take my seat each day on the train and read “ALL” comments; those that have been in agreement and those with opposing viewpoints.  They all are greatly appreciated.  However, tonight little sweetie, I really want to share some of today’s comments with you, so…as we continue to rock, well…Let’s do it this way. Go to the post: “Ain’t nothin worse than Rejection!” and read what those three very wonderful women had to say. I hope you will be as blessed as I was…

Even “SPIKE” was impressed!

Ain’t Nothin Worse Than Rejection…

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 3:49 am

I want to talk about the subject of hurtful and bad break ups. Most of us have dealt with the sense of being rejected by someone we care about sometime in our lives. A partner may develop an interest in someone else, a child may choose to turn away, or a “Spouce” may find other interests than us. There can be a great deal of pain involved with this, and very often, there is a denial that this is what is actually going on. We may “know” that we are better for our loved one than their new focus is, and have a need to assert that this rejection is mistaken. It seems to be characteristic of the human spirit to not understand the fact of our rejection, and to fight against the break up. Perhaps this is because of the ultimate oneness of Spirit? What say you Geri? Is it not true that rejection is not a spiritual possibility, and perhaps that is why we find this so difficult to comprehend? The issue remains though, that even if from a spiritual perspective, true rejection cannot occur, the relationship most certainly can transform from the lingering hurt of the break up.

What are you eating Geri and what say you O wise one?

In a rejection situation, the relationship has transformed without our permission. We are not allowed a voice in the matter, and the decision has been made without us. This is what is so chillingly and shockingly the stark reality. This is crux of the matter, the decision has been made, and there is simply no use in fighting it because as you mature you understand that to fight it is to just push the person that much further away. As such, we disagree with this transformation, may feel insulted and powerless and want the counsel of a friends sympathy. Where this can become confusing is when we fail to accept the fact that either party in the broken relationship has the power to transform the entire thing. I have noticed that this situation is especially difficult if the person being rejected is the one who is normally the dominant partner (or feels that they are). It simply becomes inconceivable that such a decision could be made without prior approval, or that it could possibly be a right choice. Another situation is with the insecure individual who expects to be rejected. This person is likely to exaggerate the reasons for the rejection, assuming that it is because they are such a low-life individual. Either perspective is skewed. Neither takes into account the fact that both parties in the relationship are equal.

Dealing with rejection means that we are dealing with ego. Our sense of rightness or fair play may be outraged, so we have decided that the offending other is less worthy, conscientious, faithful, etc., and therefore we do not deserve to be rejected. We are much better than they are. Alternatively, we could decide that we are so unworthy (negative ego) that we should probably just crawl into a hole and die. Both of these egoic self-images are false in terms of a relationship. This is due to the fact that in order for their to have been a relationship in the first place, both parties were equal. Either one always has the power to end it. This seems to be a basic human right, one which goes deeper than systems of morality or custom. We always have the right to walk away. One can be negatively judged for doing this, but the fact remains that it can still be done. One may even remain in body, but leave in heart and spirit. Ego demands that we attempt to force the other to stay, ignoring their right to leave.

This has nothing to do with responsibility, but with the phenomenon of a relationship. A person can be forced to take responsibility, but they cannot be forced to love. When we can accept that the one who rejected us has the right to turn away, just as we would, healing can begin. As we understand that either of us has that option, to be in the relationship or not, we can be free from the pain and healing of the break up can begin.

Now, ask me how many times I’ve had to read and re-read stuff here on this here Train to make sure I keep things in their proper perspective….Happy Friday Yall!

I Miss You Bonnie…

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 3:20 am

I have been blessed to have so many good friends during my time riding this Train called Life. I just want to pause a minute to remind you to “Give the flowers” now, while your loved ones are still here. As I sit here this morning thinking about just how fragile life is, here one moment, departed the next, it makes me wonder why we don’t love harder in the here and now.

Anyway, when I lived in DC, I met a wonderful, and I mean wonderful woman. She was such a big help and comfort to me as I adjusted to big city life having migrated from my beloved “Buckeye” state. Her name; Bonnie Rae Robinson.

I simply cannot find the adjectives to convey how graceful Bonnie was and how much wisdom she had. Bonnie was an angel put in my path that made that transition “safe” for me. In some ways she helped me mature into the man I was to become. I can truly say that she was an Angel, a true gift from God. I love you Bonnie, and I miss you. I wished I’d given you the flowers before you went to heaven.

“Those closest to Bonnie will remember her powerful personality, her winning smile and her passion for life. Her mere presence left an indelible mark on every person she came in contact with.” …Marci Lewis (Bonnie’s Daughter & my friend).

Meet my friend Bonnie: (CLICK)

Chuckie’s “Song Of The Day”

Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:38 am

In honor of Date Night w/Chuckie…
The incomparable one: (CLICK)

Give her a chance, This ain’t the Apollo: (CLICK)

All com-on…not really that bad!


Category: Thoughts — chuckie @ 12:01 am

In the dark: (CLICK)