Faith of A Mustard Seed

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington

Music has always been one of the greatest interpretations of life for me. I have a capacity for the song and if the lyrics have depth, I can write them on my heart with a remarkable memory. I have previously made reference to two of Black America’s greatest Theologians, Howard Thurman and James Cone whose writing on “Deep River, the Negro Spiritual Speaks of Life and Death” and “The Spirituals and The Blues” express the song traditions of our faith, race and culture to the max.

When I think “Mother’s Day, I consider first, lyrically, “Faith of our Mothers… Living Still”. Can’t help but turn then, to Luther Vandross who was in my estimation… so ahead of his time. By the late 90’s, he was recording multiple albums— so much music that there was just not the time in that space to comprehend it all. One album recorded in 1998 entitled “I Know” is asleep, awaiting discovery. On this album is “Religion”— Luther’s approach to the ‘Real Life’ question of faith. Hit it up on YouTube to enter the soul of Luther Vandross. He’s got a ‘war cry’ going on throughout it. This lyrical text approaches on the 4Real cultural side of… the “faith of our mothers”!.

“It was early Sunday morning, Everyone in the house was still asleep.
She made some toast and coffee, took a shower and made herself smell sweet.
She said, “I don’t want a bus ride, I believe that the walk might help me think.
Got a heart kind of heavy—
I need some big hat and gloves, shoes and bag religion.”

(Religion). That’s my decision.
Some of that make me feel better when I shout
Religion. Yeah. That’s my decision.

Papa Henry was full of spice. He was a man usually nice.
But something got into him last night— made him wanna fuss and hollar.
The entire house was worked in a sweat, his bottle got broken and the floor got wet
“Clean it up!” you could hear him scream. Then he said, “I’m going out, I need religion”

(Religion). That’s my decision.
Some of that raise up the roof, 90 proof
Religion. Yeah. That’s my decision.
Religion. Yeah. It’s my decision oh yes.

It’s the story about a good family; who doesn’t live anymore in good harmony.
They are people who love their daughter and son
They tried to give them Religion…

Little Billy likes his best friend Jack. How in the world could it be like that.
Mama and Henry wanna have that chat… “Boy you need Religion”.
Little Betty whatcha gonna do? There’s a child growing inside of you.
You should’ve stopped and thought things through… “Little girl you need a vision— of Religion”.

(Religion). That’s my decision.
Some of that how’d I get on Ricki Lake?
Religion. Yeah. That’s my decision.
Religion. Yeah. Got a little— Religion.

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