Alex Yarde, with a tribute to Karen Carpenter that may seem surprising to some.
Today is Karen Carpenter’s Birthday. She was born March 2nd 1950.
You may ask yourself why I care.
It’s significant for me personally for two reasons.
First, because growing up, my family listened to all kinds of black music Motown, Jazz, Soul, R&B, Calypso, Soca & Reggae (not too much reggae, my mother was a church lady).
The ONLY white artists I can recall my mother ever listening to were The Carpenters. She loved Karen’s voice, plus, Karen was a badass drummer as well.
Mom loved percussion but it was her softer melodies that kept her in heavy rotation on our huge Zenith Phonograph. “Close to you” “Top of the World” My mom new “We’ve Only Just Begun” by heart. “Rainy days & Mondays” a long list of hits in the ’70’s my mother loved so Karen occupies some real estate in my mind and in my heart.
The second is as talented, successful and beautiful as Karen Carpenter was, she didn’t think she was pretty.
She suffered and died from Anorexia. On February 4th 1983 a month shy of her 33rd birthday.
I’m no psychologist nor am I an expert on depression or eating disorders so forgive any naïveté, but hearing “you’re not good enough” your entire life must take its toll.
I don’t presume to know her personally or her struggles but I do know she had a seriously domineering mother. She spoke of her childhood in interviews.
So as a parent, that gives me pause. In the day to day grind it’s easy to forget, but it’s never too late to remember , kids do care about what you think of them. And you never know what off hand phrase you throw in their direction may stick. I’m Bajan, have a big mouth and at times quick to anger, so I know I need to check myself.
I sometimes forget to tell my son, and my daughter especially because Black girls and women need to be superheroic just to get a seat at the table in American Society (shade at Chris), how brilliant, beautiful and badass I think she truly is.
So Karen’s story ironically, makes me consciously wish to continuously nourish the seeds of positivity and self love in my little girl, in hope she flourishes and grows into the woman I know she can become.
So, Happy Birthday Karen.