There is no way I could forget the loveable, huggable sweetheart of a man called Vinx.
See, here is another person who is not actively in my life right now, and who I completely and totally miss! What is up with that? Yes, he lives in New Hampshire now… but still. We both have a love for Port with chocolate and blue cheese and walnuts. I’ve got the bottles, buddy… Some 100-point ports, as a matter of fact. So get your butt out to Agoura!
I fist met Vinx through the Lili Claire Foundation, the charity I have been involved with for the last 14 years. Right away I knew this man was about giving.
Vinx’s story is pretty amazing… filled with some awful tragedies, but amazing. He is living proof that out of hate and pain can come pure beauty and love.
From his bio: “In 1977 racists burned down his house, along with the home of another black family living in his Kansas City suburb. Vinx was severely burnt by the fire. He overcame his injuries and three years later made the world’s second longest leap in the triple jump. This qualified Vinx for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. When President Jimmy Carter called for an Olympic boycott that year, Vinx’s athletic goals were put on hold.”
“After an injury at the trials took him out of the running for the ’84 Olympics, Vinx stayed in Los Angeles and began working as a fitness trainer for the rich and famous.”
“In 1987, Vinx landed his first recording session with Ernie Watts on his Grammy awarded Musician project. Following Tom Jones’ recording of Vinx’s ballad “Touch My Heart,” Vinx toured extensively with the likes of Rickie Lee Jones, The Bus Boys, Teena Marie, Toni Childs and Robben Ford.”
“In 1989, Vinx’s father, Leslie Jackson Parrette Sr. (Vinx’s greatest musical influence) was mugged and murdered during a family vacation in Detroit.”
“In 1990, Sting and Miles Copeland signed Vinx to Pangaea/I.R.S. Records. Following Vinx’s performance on Sting’s Soul Cages CD, Vinx recorded his first release (Rooms In My Fatha’s House) for Pangaea. The album featured guest performances from Sheryl Crow, Sting, Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, Branford Marsalis, Roscoe Lee Brown and Mother’s Finest. Vinx toured for 13 months with Sting’s “Soul Cages” tour as the solo opening act and the percussionist/ background vocalist. The tour ended with a Carnegie Hall taping of MTV Unplugged with Sting. Vinx’s “While The City Sleeps” was used in the opening dance sequence of the prime time TV show In Living Color.”
His career continues in so many areas it is astounding. I am only stopping here because we could literally be here for days. The man is pure music and love and generosity.
Vinx – The Mood I’m In
Where do you put Vinx… Jazz? Soul? World music? One could argue any and all of these genres. His music is so universal and powerful and beautiful. I started with The Storyteller, which I had before I even knew him, and then Rooms In My Fatha’s House. This is the way I would do it, but part of the reason I am starting here is that those albums are hard to find. In fact, I had been given a copy of Storyteller by an A&R guy at IRS and lost it in a move… AAGGHH. I found it again at a CD store in San Diego, after much searching.
I am happy to see a bunch of his albums on iTunes, like this one. This is whole album is a treat and I know many of you will love “The Ghetto” with members of the amazing Ozomatli!
Seeing Vinx live is also something to behold. I am not sure he invented the technique, but he is the first one I have ever seen “live loop” himself. Basically he would sing a beat or harmony, tape it and loop it back live while he sings the lead vocal over the loop.
It’s funny, I thought I just came up with this term but when I went to search “live lopping” it has its own site and Wikipedia entry and apparently its own festival, Y2KK+1.
Vinx is one of those artists who I cannot say enough wonderful things about. His music is amazing, but the man behind it is even more so. He mentors young artists, has retreats and workshops at his house and is constantly working to keep art and culture a vital part of life. His music entertains and educates, it moves and teaches. It is a thing of beauty and power… again, just like the man. Seek this artist out, friends… the rewards will be many!