Literacy Chicago, a local organization that helps adult achieve greater literacy skills, invited Debra and her keyboardist, James Edwards III, to perform at their April 20, 2012 fundraiser at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Broadcaster Linda Yu (ABC-7 news anchor) was on hand to present the keynote speech, as well as numerous luminaries from Chicago’s political and business spheres.
Literacy Chicago provides classes and tutoring for adults aimed at improving English reading fluency, helping students be better prepared to work and enjoy greater well being.
The purpose of this poem is to give recognition to people who live a drug-free life, and inspire others to change.
I know what it feels like to truly be high
Because I smoke life and I will tell you why.
It’s this sensation that is very hard to explain.
There are moments of pleasure, and moments of pain.
When I smoke life, I feel the ups and downs.
At times I may smile, other times I may frown.
It can make me feel weak, or make me feel strong.
Life, I am addicted, and I see nothing wrong.
When I smoke life, I control the outcome of my day
By things that I do, and by the things that I say.
Often I feel times of joy and happiness within.
This is the high feeling that I never want to end.
If I did not smoke life, I would not exist.
I can’t just say no, there is no way to resist.
It is surely a substance that no money can buy.
If you ask me, it is the only way to get high.
It is more powerful than crack, and much stronger than weed.
I smoke life, and that is all that I need.
I am always looking forward to living another day.
I smoke life because I can’t throw it away.
So, I must enjoy this smoke because I only get one.
I inhale, I exhale, then I am done.
It’s with sadness in my heart that I inform you of the death of Johnny “JJ” Jackson. Often compared to Luther Vandross, Johnny was one of Chicago’s most outstanding soul/R&B singers.
Johnny was Debra’s husband of 32 years.
As I write this at one in the morning, his funeral will take place later today. I’ll post more details about his life and family if they become available.
Selected performances from late 1990s video
On behalf of Debra, I’m really pleased to announce this brand new website. She’s gonna need it, with all the rehearsing and networking in 2011, setting the stage to bust out on the Chicago music scene (and beyond) in 2012.