Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Soul of the Movement: What's Under the Natural Do?

John KaSandra - (What's Under) The Natural Do

One of the defining images of black culture in the late '60s and into the '70s was the Afro (aka Natural) hairdo. The message of the Afro was clear: black men and women sporting the meticulously-cared-for Afro (which required the use of products such as Johnson Products' famous "Afro Sheen") projected a "black is beautiful" image in stark contrast to the traditional hair straightening practices of black women and the male process, or "conk." From Jesse Jackson to James Brown to Angela Davis, the Afro was a symbol of strength and purpose. It is safe to say, however, that by the end of the '70s the political connotations of the hairstyle had faded, allowing the Afro to join leisure suits and 8-track tapes as a relic of the '70s.

John KaSandra (real name John Anderson) wrote the Bobby Bland hit "Ain't Nothing You Can Do" and recorded a political soul album, "John W. Anderson Presents KaSandra." By 1969 KaSandra was on Stax Records' Respect label, on which he would release several albums and singles. Today' selection, his first Respect single, cautioned black listeners that it would take more than growing an Afro to have empowerment, a message which resonates strongly even today, particularly in light of today's fashion-and-"bling-bling"-conscious black youth.


Agent45 said...

JB, however, didn't wear his hair natural for very long, giving a bit of irony to the related Hank Ballard tune "How You Gonna Get Respect (If You Haven't Cut Your Process Yet)"

The Stepfather of Soul said...

Yeah, JB was back to the trademark look pretty soon; fortunately he got "How You Gonna Get Respect" out on the streets first :) (I'm posting that song later on.)