Watercolors by Ateli© Are Featured Courtesy Of The Black Jaguar Music Company.
A songwriting member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) since 2003, I, Cat Ellington, am also an elected member of the Guild of International Songwriters and Composers (GISC) (UK), the Harry Fox Agency (US), a Gold Member of the Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL), the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP, New York), the Academy of American Poets (AAP), the Authors Guild, and the Chicago Writers Association (CWA). Aside from my professional elections, I also serve as a proud member of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) in my philanthropic efforts.
Since age 10, I have composed hundreds of song works that extend (24) genres. And from the R&B, Jazz, Heavy Metal, and Classical collections of said body of work, five original compositions are featured on the soundtrack to the multi-award-winning motion picture, Dual Mania (2020).
There are many extraordinary and legendary songwriters and composers who have greatly influenced my own style of musical creativity. And whether some of them have passed on or remain with us, their creative contributions continue to a play a meaningful role in my own body of work. These incomparable influences include:
Stevie Wonder, Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland, Frankie Beverly (of my dearly beloved Maze fame), Smokey Robinson, Richard Carpenter, Eddie Kendricks, Johnny Cash, Danny Joe Brown & Dave Hlubek (of Molly Hatchet fame), Hugh Edward "Hughie" Thomasson, Jr. (of The Outlaws fame), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lionel Richie, Basia, Nina Simone, Joan Armatrading, Angie Stone, George "Bad To The Bone" Thorogood, Mark Knopfler, Joe Cocker, Ian Anderson (of my beloved Jethro Tull fame), Roberta Flack, Sir Elton John, Bernie Taupin,Eric Carmen, Gerry Beckley (of America fame), Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, David Bowie, Roger Waters, Rupert Holmes, Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo, Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen, Jr., Adam Clayton, Don Henley, Lou Gramm, Dennis DeYoung, Tommy Shaw, David Byrne, Joe Lynn Turner, Ritchie Blackmore, Nikki Sixx, Sean Callery, Jeff Carlisi & Donnie Van Zant (of my beloved .38 Special fame),
Eddie Money, David Gates (of my beloved Bread fame), Michael Stipe, Brian Johnson & Angus Young (of my beloved AC/DC fame), Billy Squier, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, & Stevie Nicks, Bruce Hornsby, Lenny Kravitz, Jim Seals, Dash Crofts, Paul Davis, Roger Hodgson (of my beloved Supertramp fame), Jonny "Red Light" Lang, Michael McDonald, Rob Halford, Mark Slaughter, Ronnie Van Zant, Neil Young, Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Lobo, James Taylor, Kevin Cronin (of my beloved REO Speedwagon fame), Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jim "Mr. Mojo Risin'" Morrison, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Fred Ebb, Lou & Peter Berryman, Pat Travers, Sir Rod Stewart, David Crosby, Joe Walsh, Pete Townshend, Robert Plant & Jimmy Page (of my beloved Led Zepplin fame), Frankie Yankovic, Walter Becker & Donald Fagen (of my dearly beloved Steely Dan), Gregg Allman, Geddy Lee, Christopher Cerf, Bob Dorough, Lynn Ahrens, Dave Frishberg, Rod Temperton, Jim Peterik, David Pack, Mark Farner, Graham Russell, David Peverett, Maurice White, Vernon White, Philip Bailey, Al Jarreau, Michael Hutchence, Daryl Hall, John Oates, Bob Marley, Nile Rodgers, Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, Jack Elliott, Bob James, Dave Grusin, Billy Joel, Todd Rundgren, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, India.Arie, Sade,
Natalie Merchant, Michel Legrand, Musiq Soulchild, Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, Dan Seals, John Ford Coley, Bruce Dickinson, Harry Chapin, Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond, John Mellancamp, Justin Haywood & John Lodge (of my beloved Moody Blues fame), Don McLean, Bonnie Raitt, Elmer Bernstein, Jan Hammer, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Mike Post, Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb,Carly Simon, Paul "Ace" Frehley, Ronnie James Dio (the greatest voice in metal, by the way), Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Amy Mann, Phoebe Snow, James Hetfield & Lars Ulrich (of my beloved Metallica fame. You can't have metal without METALlica), Tom Araya, Linda Creed, Thom Bell, Kenny Loggins, Paul Williams, Roger Nichols, Kenny Ascher, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Dave Matthews, Steve Perry & Neal Schon (of my beloved Journey fame),
El Debarge, Paul Stanley, Rob Thomas, Paul Simon, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Bobby Womack, Ludwig van Beethoven, Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Sting, Carole Bayer Sager, Diane Warren, Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, James Harris III, Terry Lewis, The Stanley Brothers (who are my main Bluegrass influences), Steve Miller, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Barry Manilow, Boz Scaggs, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings,Sir Paul McCartney, Peter Cetera, Yolanda Adams, Jill Scott, Phil Collins, Alan Parsons, Bob Segar, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell, Prince Rogers Nelson, Bob Dylan, Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson, Patrice Rushen, Siedah Garrett, Najee, Bill Withers, Terrence Blanchard, Miles Davis, and Duke Ellington.
The aforementioned are among some of the many, many men and women of the phenomenal craft of songwriting who have both inspired and influenced over 30 years of the Cat Ellington song work.
Though the gift of song had been implanted in me by the living God from the womb of my mother, I had not been allowed to realize it until I was maybe six or seven years old, I can't remember exactly. But I know it had been around that chronological time frame. Music, from since the time that I was old enough to remember, had simply become my magnetic interest straight away; the art form had become my passion. And I knew, I just knew that music was what my calling on Earth had been. For it came too naturally to me. I could feel the pull for it in my bones, deep within my spirit. Music was to become me.
The sound of the drum cymbal. The sound of the drum cymbal had become my obsession. There was just something about that sound. Seriously, whenever the stereo was on in our house, which was often, I would literally run over to the speaker to press my ear up against it, that I would be able to absorb the entire sound of the drum cymbal. I don't know know what it had been, I didn't even know the name of it at the time, but there was just something about the sound effect of the drum cymbal that captured me and mesmerized me, even from the time that I was a very young child old enough to understand.To this very day, I love that sound, what the sound of the drum cymbal.
The late (and undeniably great) Dorothy "Dottie" Luckett, whom had been my very first musical mentor, took me under her gentle wing while I had been a 7th grader attending John C. Haines elementary in our native Chicago. Instant friends and kindred spirits, ma received me in as her own "daughter" because like her I had been chocolate in skin hue and chubby in body weight. But also because we shared the same gift, which was that of music. A tremendous songwriter and pianist in her own right, my "Dottie" nurtured my musically creative abilities, mentoring my writing skills and my composition structures. She had also composed our school song, which I had thought to be a very unique work, what considering that the piece had been a wonderful take on a pre-existing song popular during that time.
During my 7th and 8th grade years, I studied the piano under her tutelage. And while at home, I wrote whatever words had come to mind first. The gift was there, it was ony a matter of listening and being focused.
As time progressed into the winter season of 1980, a very dear friend of mine had conceived a child. That very dear friend is named Marie "ReeRee" or "Smitty" (whichever one you prefer) Smith. She was older than me, of course, and I loved her like a big sister. Ree didn't play, she was the ultimate ass-kicker. And she had also been my fiercest protector. Whenever people bullied me or picked on me or made fun of me concerning my weight and she heard about it, ReeRee would get busy on that ass. She would actually resort to a physical fight if she couldn't reason with my offender(s) verbally. She took up for me on many a day. And I would love her forever for it. Even to this day, she remains one of only a few of my (s)heroes.
After we all found out about her pregnancy, word spread like wildfire throughout the entire Harold Ickes Homes public housing development, our dwelling place at that time. All the way from 22nd and South State St. down to 25th and South State St.—where the Ickes ended—had word about Ree's pregnancy spread. Some of our friends in the Hilliard Homes knew about it, too. And we all rallied around our girl. Ree was too young to have a baby, some believed, but she was still our ReeRee. And we rendered her our full support. Her baby was to be all of our baby. And I was jacked up. I loved her so much. I wanted to do something good for her, I just didn't know what to do. But on Wednesday, 14 January 1981, the Spirit sent a blessing, a great blessing. The first five words with a melody that would honor my girl's pregnancy. And honestly, I hadn't been getting my tape recorder out fast enough. I had to record the melody—by way of the words—orally because I didn't have a keyboard at that moment. But I wrote the words down in my notebook afterwards. The flow stopped. The five words were all I had to go on. And so I prayed to the Lord for the rest . . . the rest of the work.
My prayer had been answered on Thursday, 15 January 1981—the very next day. Sitting alone in my bedroom, I focused. The creative faucet was beginning to trickle, drip, drip. And then, just like that, the faucet was flowing, running smoothly, coming down upon me like a sweet, harmonious rain, drenching the creative that I was to be. And before long, I had it. My very first song work, simple and straight to the point. It would be the baby's song. A work for ReeRee's baby. And that is exactly what the new song would be titled, "The Baby's Song." And so it was. Emotional as I am, I couldn't remember a single time in my childhood when I'd cried as intensely as I did on that day, my 10-year-old mouth full of Godly praise. "The Baby's Song" was born way before the unborn child who'd inspired it. And the day was blessed, the celebration unforgettable.
"The Baby's Song" would be the first born in the Cat Ellington song catalogue, to be succeeded in future years by a myriad of more.
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