For millions of office workers across America today will be their least favorite day of the week. Monday is the day we return to our daily grind, fueled by mug after mug of coffee, the phrase ‘Manic Monday’ hanging on our lips. Well not my lips, for I don’t do ‘Manic Monday’. Instead I enjoy something I like to call Millie Mondays.
I rise, make my bed and step into the bathroom to get ready for work. But before I go any further I open up Pandora on my phone and select the Millie Jackson station. For the next hour I laugh and sing along to classic soul and R&B tunes. They cover the full range of emotions involved in love, heartache and sex with a measure of deliciously bold attitude and raunchiness. By the time I walk out the door I’m still humming along nd smiling, and I have Ms. Millie and company to thank for that.
To my shame I didn’t learn of Jackson’s particularly saucy version of R&B until I was twenty-five years old. My then-husband would frequently put on songs by Jackson and Dorothy Moore. I recognized the deep southern accent immediately, but I had no idea who it belonged to.
“Baby, who is this?”, I asked him.
“This is Millie Jackson. You’ve never heard of her?” he replied, perplexed that I wasn’t familiar with her work already.
“No, never listened to her before today but I’m feeling her!” And I truly was! Jackson’s music gave me the same sensation I felt when I first listened to Jamaican dancehall artist Lady Saw. It was thrilling to hear a woman artist who wasn’t fixated on abiding by conventional standards of femininity; who owned her sexuality and wasn’t shy about expressing what she wants; who used explicit but witty language to make her point:
The down home warmth in Millie’s voice and her no-nonsense attitude also drew me in because it sparked the memory of my favorite aunt, my late great Aunt Lula. Like Jackson my Aunt Lula either didn’t get the memo about the constraints of being a proper Southern Black lady, or just didn’t care(I think it was the latter). I appreciate them both, for their fire gives me the extra spark that I crave at times. So if you ever have a Monday where you don’t feel it, try a little Millie in your ear. If nothing else her words will give you a much-needed smile and keep your individual home fire burning.