I was reading (yes, we do read) Newsweek the other day and there was this wonderful article about someone who has been off the scene for a minute, someone who we’ve actually missed for a long time, someone who needed a little love and faith to turn his life around…and we gave it to him.
I remember assisting on a session at Larrabee Studios with Brian McKnight years ago and he was expecting one of his friends to roll through. I thought nothing of it, informed the front desk and went back to work. When the front desk called into our session and announced that “there’s an El DeBarge here to see Mr. McKnight?” I almost lost it. El DeBarge, El DeBarge? 80’s sensation El DeBarge? El DeBarge with the voice to melt butter and the face to do the equivalent to a woman, El DeBarge (and I’m not one to lose any one of my 7 senses over too many people but there are a few that manage somehow to slip through)? Nahhh! Yup! It was El DeBarge but not the way I remembered him. This El had been through some (insert explicit word or saying here), this El had taken over the life of the luminous El we grew up loving and falling in love with. Even though his physical appearance told a story of a man who once had it all and then gave it away to good ‘ol Uncle Crack, El still had that “thing” about him that not even “Roxie” could take away! He was still very sweet and considerate, loving and soft-spoken, and pretty damn funny (not in the Gator Purify way).
I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him everything was going to be alright. To sing him a lullaby that would let him know how great he was and is. That’s what I wanted to do. But I wasn’t able to, so instead I had to handle it the only way I knew how to…a silent prayer. He left that day leaving me wondering how things like that happen, and I went on with my life. I would occasionally hear about his struggles and I would send out hushful petitions for his recovery.
When I heard about his show-stopping performance on the 2010 BET Awards and then read the Newsweek article, I was moved and borderline felt like one of his very own Lakers girl. It’s amazing how some people are able to recognize an opportunity of a life time. To take advantage of being given a second chance, to be able to share their voice with the world, to be heard, to be seen, and to be forgiven. El DeBarge definitely does. When he thought that he was no longer relevant to the world we showed him different, WE embraced him. He matters and we do care. After 22 years of being held hostage to crack and being in and out of jail, El has proven to be a contender and a true fighter…a fighter for El!
It’s time for El to reap All This Love we have for him. I can’t wait to hear his entire album, hopefully I’ll get a copy soon to review for you all.