Over the past 3 decades, Russel Blake has established himself as a professional musician, concert soloist, educator, and author. He carries on the musical legacy of his father, Latin musical great Alexander Blake, and his brother, world renowned jazz bassist, Alex Blake. At the foundation of all of his success is Russel’s impeccable composition, theoretical and musical arrangement skills; all of which are self-taught.
As a public speaker, Mr. Blake eloquently conveys a message of personal empowerment and all-encompassing hope. In a remarkably refined manner he captivated crowds, young and old, by condensing his wealth of musical knowledge, his spiritual resolve, and a genuine love for humanity into a series of inspiring and insightful lecture topics.
To date, he has shared his talents in 65 countries, on five continents, held the title of ‘Adjunct Professor’ at five universities across the country where he has shared his creation, “The Universal Language Music History & Cultural Program” with a variety of audiences from Elementary through High School, Colleges and Universities, Senior Centers, Prisons, Hospitals and Military Installations about the history of Music.
Russel Blake currently holds over 432 pieces within his repertoire encompassing Classical, Spanish Classical, Traditional Jazz, Brazilian, Opera, Latin & Blues music idioms. He performs works from Mozart, Beethoven, Segovia, Albeniz, Cole Porter, Gershwin, Monk, Jobim, Stevie Wonder & Elton John.
Mr. Blake has earned the opportunity to accompany and record with several music giants such as Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Hugh Masakela, Cybil Shepherd, Chaka Khan, Harry Belafonte, El Gran Combo, Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and has enjoyed playing as the exclusive bassist for The Lion King, Dream Girls, Angie Stone, Brenda Russell, Mary Mary, to name a few.
Among his highest achievements was his appointment by the U.S. State Department to perform as an Ambassador of Goodwill to Eight West African Nation’s, and was also contracted by the U.S. Department of Defense to lecture on the symbiotic nature of Science and Music for DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Agency) International Conference.
Most recently, Russel Blake authored Proverbs 31: The Virtuous Black Woman Volume 1, in which he communicates the precious and priceless value of Black Women, the right for all women to be treated with unwavering respect and dignity, and the seeds of reverence to be sown by virtue of changing perception one community at a time.
(1) Tell us about Proverbs 31: The Virtuous Black Woman. What led you to write this book?
The book is the first installment of a three volume series with Volume 1 being authored in dedication to Black Women.
It is 50 pieces of non-fiction with several fictional stories included, composed in a Book Of Psalms/Song of Solomon love lettered form of writing. Each piece addresses an issue pertinent to Black Women. For example, the piece entitled “Masculinity”, addresses the plague of physical, emotional and psychological abuse our women are experiencing at the hands of men and subsequently builds them up with the encouraging truth of who they are and their better tomorrow.
In beholding an incessant barrage of negative portrayals and depictions of Black Women in the media here and abroad, I took up arms with pen in hand to refute the stereotypes, rebuke the lies and restore the rightful truths indigenous to the essence of Black Women. It is the inherent historical, present and future responsibility of every Black Man to defend the Women of his community regardless of what source her enemies originate from.
(2) Who are you trying to reach out to in Proverbs 31:VBW?
In addition to the target audience of Black Women, my hope is for all peoples, especially the Men of our community to reflect within themselves and re-evaluate the vital importance that Black Women have historically and significantly contributed to both our Family and to humanity.
In so doing, we raise our consciousness to be a catalyst for truth, thereby setting emotions to thoughts, thoughts to words and then words to action in challenging every identified threat to the perception of Black Women. As Men, we can then easily segue and share our earnest love and appreciation of God, our children and ourselves for our tomorrows, through loving the beautiful and virtuous Black Women in our lives today.
(3) What was the process like in writing Proverbs 31:VBW and in getting the book published?
No change of significance can ever take place without revolution. In my Spirit an uprising took place to confront the invisible regime of bigotry, misogyny and falsehoods oppressively perpetuated against the Women of our community via the media and institutionalized entities. I am a self-published author due to what amenities availed itself to me at the time of my completed manuscript.
(4) What kind of feedback have you received?
I am humbled by the national and international response and attention to this work. It has resonated with people from all walks of life, religions and ethnic groups. I was contacted recently by a Woman who happened to be white, and in praising the book stated that she wished a white man would have written a work that bestowed honor and uplifted the women of her community in such a positive way.
(5) With “Volume 1” in the title, what can we expect in your next book?
The next work in the series will be titled, “Proverbs 31:The Virtuous Woman Volume II.” Just as a Rose is not the singular flower in every garden, the quality of virtue is not limited solely to Black Women. Therefore in honoring Women of all ethnic groups, volume II expounds upon the theme to encourage the love, appreciation and reverence of their blessed existence and significant contribution to humanity.