Ever since I opened Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen cookbook, which includes recipes as well as recommended soundtracks for cooking, I’ve been adding my own soundtracks to my baking. This past summer, I knocked out two pound cakes from the recipe taken from the Reynolds Wrap The Way Mama Cooked It contest cookbook. One was for my nephew’s 2nd wedding reception (see photo) for those of us who couldn’t or didn’t make it to the wedding destination in New Mexico. The second was for a family reunion (family by marriage and life-long friendships, cousins by blood). The second pound cake was devoured in less than 7 minutes. I kid you not.
But here are my soundtracks for the cakes. For my nephew and his wife, I chose “The World of Nat King Cole.” An excellent track of popular and best of love songs and arrangements by a master musician. Nat King Cole was one of my father’s favorites if not his most favorite. Nat King Cole was a man of style, class, sophistication and solace in the harsh times of “white only” and “colored only.” I love it when you can actually hear every word and hang on to every note/phase of a song. For some reason “Nature Boy” always reminds me of my dad; “Unforgettable” was sung at his funeral. The CD kicks off with the song “Smile.” Had no idea that was Michael Jackson’s favorite song. “Smile” was an instrumental soundtrack for the film “Modern Times” with Charlie Chaplin until lyrics were added in 1954 by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. Nat King Cole would record it the same year. Very sentimental music but so were most people who loved Nat King Cole. He’s timeless.
For the second cake, I chose Alberta Hunter‘s “Amtrak Blues.” I wanted a little naughty without being obscene. That’s what makes the blues so special. I still can’t help but chuckle when you hear Hunter perform “My Handy Man Ain’t Handy No More.” And yes, this was the stuff those church ladies enjoyed back in the day. Hunter got back into her blues groove in the late 70s after a 20 year hiatus from the music scene. It was noted as one of the greatest music comebacks. She was just past 80 years of age and recently retired from her day job as a nurse. Hunter was invited to do a two week gig at The Cookery Club in Greenwich Village. It wasn’t long before music producer John Hammond signed Hunter to a recording contract with Columbia Records. “Amtrak Blues” was released in 1980. She rode the rails for 6 years.
I requested a radio interview with Hunter at the Cookery, but she had taken ill and then died that same year. I got an interview with jazz singer Betty Carter in her Brooklyn brownstone instead [You can read the transcript of that interview here.]
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