Bring it Back: Bob and Marcia 'Young, Gifted & Black' Image

by Biko Kennedy

"To be young, gifted and black, oh what a lovely precious dream/ To be young, gifted and black, open your heart to what I mean," 25 words Bob and Marcia crooned urging listeners to tackle their reach on success as blacks.

Released in 1970 by the duo, Young, Gifted and Black sold over 500,000 copies, landing them on the UK Singles Chart at #5, bringing them international recognition and ultimately making them household names both locally and internationally.

The original Young, Gifted and Black was composed by American soul/ jazz singer Nina Simone and Weldon Irvine in memory of Simone's late friend Lorraine Hansberry; the black American writer of the classic play A Raisin in the Sun.

The single eventually became a Civil Rights anthem in the United States reflecting the desire to express pride in the achievements of African-Americans.

"The song came to Jamaica and created quite an impact. Prince Buster did a version and Studio One did a version. Each producer thought they had the right to do it. A producer, Harry J, came to me with it and I called Marcia and we did the song. Months later, Harry J told us it was creating waves in England, we need to represent the song. It was my first exposure at that level," Andy confessed to The Sunday Gleaner in a 2007 interview.

According to Andy, one of the most significant things Young, Gifted and Black taught him was the ability that music possessed to transcend all boundaries. "In each session there [were] no more than five per cent of blacks and mixed people in the crowd. It was amazing to see Caucasians singing it, to see that they got the spirit of the song."

"We were just beginning to love our blackness; to think that we could achieve so much. There was a time where literature was a no no. We started reading in the '60s, the series Roots came out in the '70s and wised us up some more. I was telling someone the other day to come into the 21st century and see our kids and adults trying to become fairer, it seems a lost cause, but it's not," Andy said noting that the song was definitely a song of the times that was very reflective of its era, but still holds relevance today.

Sourced at The Gleaner

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