MUHAMMAD: Amiri Baraka and a Woman Named 'Cookie' at the Whisky a Go Go
Askia Muhammad | 1/29/2014, 3 p.m.
There was no confrontation, the police left as mysteriously as they had arrived, and after they were gone, Cookie played a record album for me by LeRoi Jones. I was transfixed! The first track on side one was called “Beautiful Black Women.” It was recited by LeRoi Jones (later and forever known as Amiri Baraka) as members of his poetry ensemble sang doo-wop-style, the background vocals to the song “Ooh Baby, Baby,” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. It is an immortal performance! You must find it on YouTube, I even composed a photo essay of Beautiful Black Women I had taken pictures of over the years, in order to accompany that wonderful sound track.
I was out of the country when I learned of Brother Baraka’s departure from this life, and was recalling for some of my male traveling companions this story. A female colleague walked up just as I was saying the part about “I was at the Whisky a Go Go once where I met this woman named Cookie.” My friend said: “I don’t know if I want to hear the rest of this story.” I smiled, she listened, I finished my story and found the poem on YouTube.
You can even watch and listen yourself. (Click here to )
That’s how I came to know the genius Amiri Baraka. May he rest in peace. And I am forever grateful to a woman named Cookie, whom I met one Sunday night at the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood, and who made me come to know how very beautiful Black women really can be.
That entire album was released in 2012 on a CD called “Black & Beautiful Soul & Madness” on the Son Boy record label.