Thank you Dustin Pickering and Mutiu Olawuyi for listening. Hence caring. We need more like you in this world of ours.
by Michael “Hawkeye” Herman Dec. 5, 2020
As an internationally recognized/touring blues musician/composer/educator/historian I can assure you that blues historians, blues aficionados, and blues music fans around the world are aware of the great importance that Paramount Records and Grafton, WI holds in the history of blues music recording and the influence on US music and world cultures.
Sadly, that information was lost to the people of Wisconsin, and especially in the immediate Grafton area for over 75 years, until Grafton resident musician/educator Angie Reilly started digging into the Paramount history in hopes of elevating the awareness of Grafton and Wisconsin area residents.
Angie Reilly and I initially connected via an online blues related forum back about 16/17 years ago. She informed me of her very proactive efforts in raising awareness in Grafton and WI, in general, of the importance of Paramount Records. The history, influence and ONGOING impact and legacy of Paramount Records was lost to the people of the Grafton area.
Ms. Reilly is very much responsible for the raising of the awareness of the people of the Grafton area regarding the world renown influence and legacy of Paramount Records, as well as her initiating and influencing the Village of Grafton administration/city council in the creation of the Paramount Walk of Fame that is the now centerpiece of downtown Grafton.
In her efforts to raise awareness of the ‘city fathers’ and the citizens, young and old, regarding Paramount’s worldwide fame amongst blues music fans she arranged to bring me to Grafton to meet with the city council and inform them, as an ‘outsider’, of the important culturally legacy and esteem that Grafton’s Paramount Records is held by the international blues community.
At that time, Ms. Reilly also arranged for me to present blues music and Grafton/Paramount history presentations/programs to in the schools to ALL of the public school students in Grafton. I was happy to oblige her request to come to Grafton and help her with her most worthwhile efforts in honoring Paramount Records, Grafton, and the many iconic blues musicians who recorded in Grafton.
The positive and enduring results of her/our efforts are quite obvious: Grafton honors its Paramount blues music legacy with a permanent Paramount Walk of Fame as the featured aspect of the Grafton City Center, and an annual blues music, The Paramount Blues Festival, festival grew out of the ‘rediscovered’ legacy of Paramount Records in Grafton, WI.
You will find my personal article documenting our efforts to raise the citizens of the Grafton area’s awareness about the important and eternal legacy of Paramount Records in Grafton … as well as a link to my article documenting our mutual work in bringing the Paramount Walk of Fame into reality:
“Embracing The Legacy Of The Blues / From the South To The North – Part 2. Grafton, WI and Paramount Records”By Michael “Hawkeye” Herman
http://www.hawkeyeherman.com/pdf/14_EmbracingTheLegacy_Pt.2.pdf to raise the citizens of the Grafton area’s awareness about the important and eternal legacy of Paramount Records in Grafton.
Photo Slide Show Images Provided by Michael “Hawkeye” Herman’s Large Collection of Photos
A Note from Blues Writer Denise Leisz
“Angie Mack Reilly lives on the Mississippi Blues Trail—in Grafton, Wisconsin—home to legendary Paramount Records. The Paramount label introduced such blues greats as Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Tommy Johnson, Ishmon Bracey and Henry Townsend, who today are among the most important figures in early 20th-century American music. More about Angie and her work at https://deltadownload.com/f/pieces-of-paramount “
Angie is a lifetime arts advocate and leader with proven and documented success who is looking for benefactors to help her keep launching forward. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of the podcasts, television appearances, radio interviews, articles and videos that feature Angie and her work:
- World Music Foundation
- Parrot TV (New York)
- TMJ4 Milwaukee
- Grafton Chamber of Commerce
- Riverwest Radio
- Milwaukee Rep
- Paramount Records: The Key to Understanding Black History and the Foundation of American Music
- Sessions with Sandy
- Grave Stories with TR Rongstad
- Music Interview with Z.M. Wise
- Delta Download Mississippi Blog
- Livia Peterson Feature Story
- Creativity Portal
- Women as Visionaries
- Amerika’s Addiction
Follow Ozaukee Talent on Facebook to see samples of work
Follow Ozaukee Talent on Instagram to see samples of work
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Prison:
The Epicenter of a Movement
(C) 03/2005 Angela K. Mack
|The Apostle Paul and his friend Silas praised their God while waiting in a prison cell. “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.” (Acts 16:26 KJV) Similarly, in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter of Epistle” to nine white liberal clergymen who opposed his peaceful demonstration and again, there was an earthquake. This earthquake shook the foundations of segregation and racism in America.Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” contained words that had the power to open the doors for a 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington with 200,000 demonstrators present. In addition, this letter reached the eyes of an American church that needed a serious wake up call. It also reached the ears of the American government resulting in the 1963 Civil Rights Bill. Yes, the words from this prisoner left a lasting imprint on American history.Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. He came from a lineage of clergymen. He was a devout Christian man who had his religious beginnings singing in his father’s church. His mother was a teacher. His mother, a teacher, also comforted him as a child when his childhood friends told him that they could no longer play with him because he was black.
Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in a part of the United States that had its Jim Crow laws. Humiliating “WHITES ONLY” signs were posted in many parks, hotels, swimming pools, schools, and restaurants. This had a tremendous impact on Martin Luther King Jr. He later grew up and became a pastor. Shortly after he began his first job as a pastor in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to get out of the “WHITES ONLY” section of a city bus. Consequently, she was arrested. King encouraged a boycott of the buses and many blacks protested. This event began his activism in the Civil Rights. This same sort of silent protest landed him in jail when, after many attempts at negotiations, Birmingham merchants continued to display their “WHITES ONLY” signs.
Martin Luther King Jr. begins his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, “MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN.” He sets up his discourse giving the clergy a clear understanding of his scope of influence. He sets up his credibility as a leader and demands respect by gently explaining that he is the “president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights”. He then likens his role in the region to the Apostle Paul and declares that he has a “gospel of freedom”. He uses a metaphor that the clergy can clearly understand.
Next, he gives the antithesis, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Using this powerful craft of language, he gives another antithesis, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” (Unknowingly, Martin Luther King was honing in on his skills as an effective communicator which would later benefit his “I Have a Dream” speech.) Yes, King had a lot of time to formulate his thoughts. He, almost in a humorous tone, mentions later in his letter, “what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts, and pray long prayers?”
Martin Luther King Jr. used his time in prison wisely as did the imprisoned Apostle Paul who wrote many letters to the churches. King was an example of the spirit in African Americans. He possessed fortitude in the midst of tragedy. His letter praises the spirit of all African Americans throughout.
After setting up his discourse as to what his mission is, King informs the clergy of the four steps of his campaign: “collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.” He makes it clear to them that the Birmingham merchants were not willing to negotiate. “The city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.” This apathy toward the civil rights of African Americans was very common, especially in the south. Whites did not want to listen to what the black community had to say. Blacks were to be considered as being invisible. So King believed that non-violent tension was needed in order to wake up the collective wrong thinking of the day. He wanted for his actions to spark healthy dialogue resulting in equal rights for African Americans.
Martin Luther King quickly shifts the tone of his letter. A rapid pace begins to take over. It’s as if the beginning of his letter was strictly business-like. However, it takes a passionate turn and his righteous anger spills out onto the pages using the language tactic of repetition. But before giving his series of “when” scenarios, he throws in another antithesis, “justice too long delayed is justice denied”. King’s series of repetitions contain phrases such as “when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers”, “when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters”, “when your first name becomes ‘nigger’”, “when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’”. He tries to let this group of white clergymen see what it is like to live from the eyes of an African American.
After this section of the letter, he transitions by using yet another antithesis as he quotes St. Augustine, “an unjust law is no law at all”. The next portion of his letter takes on a political tone. He explains what a “just” law is and what an “unjust” law is. There is no doubt that the southern states during this time in history were clearly acting unconstitutionally. King mentions the “First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.” He gives political and biblical justifications for breaking unjust laws. He even refers to the fact that Hitler operated under “legal” German law. His political thesis was that segregation was unconstitutional and demanded to be dealt with. “We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates.”
Martin Luther King Jr. shifts his focus and then becomes apostolic in his writing. He addresses the flaws of the white church as a whole. He begins with, “I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need.” The sad part of the church in that part of history was that it ignored the civil rights issue. Using biblical theology of obeying the law of the land and the separation of the sacred and secular, it made it easy for the church to not get involved. King accused the church as being socially neglectful and afraid of being nonconformist. He proposed a return to the philosophy and doctrine of the early church. “In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principals of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”
You see, Martin Luther King Jr. confessed that it was the white moderates who were the greatest enemy to the Civil Rights cause. He even went so far as to saying that it was not the White Citizen’s Counselor or the Ku Klux Klan that posed the greatest threat. “The white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree in your methods of direct action’;”
His final discourse touches upon the idea of an unjust police force which has remained an issue even to this day. He commented about their “ugly and inhumane treatment of Negros here in the city jail”. He mentioned how the police “push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls.” He writes that they “slap and kick old Negro men and young boys”. He alludes to the fact that reformation is needed in the police force.
Reformation is the theme of Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter from prison. He calls for a reformation in the southern business community, the government, and the churches, among the whites and in the police force. His prison cell experience gave him the opportunity to display his intellect. (He was so smart that he graduated from college at age 15!) He was able to craft his words by establishing his credibility, making appeals, giving insight into the life of an African American, intellectual arguments, theological and political debates. He fashioned his letter with a spirit of negotiation and intellect rather than out of vengeance. He showed great restraint toward a group of religious leaders who could have easily been reamed out. The tone of King’s letter was diplomatic. He didn’t argue like a fool. He didn’t rage like a man of vengeance. Rather, he used his knowledge of different subject areas, his skill of communication, his intellectual arguments, and his passion for the cause to create a letter that would shake the world.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an apostle. He was an organizational leader. He was a politician. He was a man of divine purpose. He was a prophet. He was an amazing communicator. He showed all of us the impact that one person can have upon the world. He declared the message of divine and innate freedom even from a prison cell. His messages could not be overlooked. They demanded attention. His ability to move others through the use of effective communication and passion forever impacted the Civil Rights Movement. Yes, the messages of Martin Luther King Jr. created a very much needed earthquake in this American land of segregation. May the quaking continue!
“The Man with a mission—Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.” Guyana Chronicle Online, January 19, 2004. http://www.guyanachronicle.com/ARCHIVES/archive%20%2019-01-04.html
Adler, Davis. A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday House. New York. 1989
Gates, Henry Lewis Jr., and Nellie Y. McKay. “Martin Luther King Jr.”. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature., pgs. 1895-1908
King, Martin Luther Jr. “A Letter from Birmingham”. 1963. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Pgs. 1896-1908.
The Untouchable Dream
Photo and written entry by Angie Mack Reilly
Originally published on Facebook January 15, 2009 at 9:46 PM
I have come to learn that some dreams can be touched and others are not. So how does one distinguish? It is a matter of accessing the risks, the time, and the reality of the dream.
Some dreams are just fantasies not worth pursuing. Others are very attainable through real goals, focused attention, and hard work. I have achieved dreams so far in life. I have had dreams to do recording projects. I have had dreams to grow in my career. I have had dreams to buy a house. All of these were attainable through real goal setting, focused attention, and hard work.
There are other dreams that I hold tightly inside that are not so attainable in my opinion. We shall see. But it is very important for the dreamer to distinguish between fantasy and real dreams. A fool chases fantasies without considering the final outcome. It takes great wisdom to be a dreamer and to choose which dreams are worth pursuing and which are considered only fantasies.
by Angie Mack Reilly
I’m on the winding journey
“Why in Ding?”
A little left
A little right
Wondering when wandering
Wandering when wondering
The winding journey
belongs to the pioneers.
Photo of our new friend “Dave’s” sailboat who apparently came from the Michigan side and was waiting for the wind to pick up. My son made a new friend and Dave let our family on the boat for some rare photos. Photo by Angie Mack Reilly, Port Washington, WI 2019
Greetings ADDICTS and NON ADDICTS!
Today we have a VERY informative interview with someone who specializes in what many of you do…social media! If you are reading this interview right now, you are using a form of social media! You probably found out about his via social media aka facebook, linkedin, twitter and a whole host of others. I actually ‘met’ todays victim on the interview Angie Mack via twitter. I am fairly new to twitter myself and just like in the real world, first impressions count. My first impression on Angie was that she appeared genuine and a truly passionate person about what she does. Angie is very well versed in music (especially blues) and social media and how to network, conduct business, professionalism and a whole host of other things.
Trust me…after you read this, you will leave with something new to think about. Like I said before…Amerikas Addiction and what we stand for, is deeper than just making some music! It is about experiencing life and the people in our lives. We believe you must step outside of your box/circle if you want to truly change. I (J-The Truth) feel like I gained more knowledge just by asking Angie these questions and I feel compelled to share her insight into social media, the negativity certain people feel about rap/hip-hop music and the rich and forgotten history of blues music that has roots in (of all places) Grafton, Wisconsin.
So, grab a pen and some paper and learn something!
How did you get into social media as a profession?
I began as a volunteer in 2004 interacting with international audiences about a local record label from the early 1900s. I became employed as Marketing Director in 2008 when a position opened up within my workplace. I have recently started my own Social Media Services business called SocioFocus.
So, in regular people words…what do you do?
I am a Marketing Director and Performing Arts Instructor/Director for an arts school. I’ve been in the music business my entire adult life both as a volunteer and as a paid professional. Some people call me a music historian. I just like to say that I have a big mouth. I know a lot of people in the music industry.
How long have you been in the social media ‘Game’?
I have been working with social media since 2004. My primary avenue back then was through forums, email and websites.
I also see you are into music! What do you do involving music?
Everything! Seriously. I’m a singer/songwriter, music historian, music director, recording engineer, on and on….But overall, I am a musical mentor. I direct musicals, musical groups and give private piano, guitar, voice and songwriting lessons through the North Shore Academy of the Arts. I recently helped a 13 year student of mine produce an original album of 10 songs. I want to see others fulfill their musical dreams as well.
You told me about your involvement in blues music and trying to save and inform people on its rich culture! Could you explain more?
I lived in Grafton, WI for several years before I discovered that there was a recording studio in Grafton between 1929 to 1932. Many of the recording artists who came here were the early African American delta blues musicians and singers from down south such as Charley Patton, Skip James, Son House, Tommy Johnson and more. Paramount Records recorded early jazz, female vocalists, ethnic music, gospel music and more. Back in the day, it was huge. At the time, the Village of Grafton was not promoting or embracing the intense music history. There was very little information about “Paramount Records” online. So “Phase “1 in raising awareness was to create a website called http://paramountshome.org “Phase 2” was to begin talking about the historic record label with people around the world via social networking. “Phase 3” was to create local events such as “Blues in the Schools” and an “Embrace the Legacy” concert series to prepare the community for an annual Blues Festival. There is now a Paramount Plaza “Walk of Fame” in Grafton with the above named artists etched in. Other names such as Louis Armstrong, Ida Cox, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey and Joe “King” Oliver have also been inducted. This makes me very happy.
You wrote an article about hip-hop getting a bad ‘rap’. What inspired that article?
I am so sick of (primarily white) people saying that hip-hop isn’t a valid musical art form. There seems to be a stigma that because it isn’t entirely acoustic it is somehow “lesser”. I am also sick of (primarily white) people saying, “I like all kinds of music except for rap (aka hip hop).” I find that many of the attitudes toward hip hop are similar to early attitudes toward the blues. I have honestly had people delete me from facebook because I have promoted hip hop on my wall. Some have been offended by the lyrics or the content in the video. You see, the blues was often referred to as “the devil’s music”. I find that some circles believe this to be true about hip hop and rap. It makes me very sad. I blogged about it in an attempt to change public opinion.
What is the ‘secret’ to social media, in your opinion?
You have to be persistently passionate. If you are, you will naturally create an online buzz and make key connections. Keep throwing those social “seeds” out there. Keep talking to your online community. Keep asking questions. Your passion is bound to fall upon somebody who can help you further your cause. Find a mentor and be a mentor.
What companies/personalities are doing ‘the right thing’ in regards to social media?
I recently blogged about @QdobaWI or Qdoba Mexican Grill-Wisconsin “doing it right”. My place of employment (@nsaagrafton) was recently praised in Corporate Report Magazine for its social media marketing. Three of my personal favorite personalities to follow are @sarandipity, @claytonjenks and @triveraguy who are all from SE Wisconsin. I appreciate their genuine authenticity. I also have to commend you (@jthetruth) and Amerikas Addiction for the followers and friends you’ve gained. You are passionate about what you do and you respond favorably with your fans. The Musicians of Wisconsin facebook group has also done some pretty neat things.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
First of all, I would say that I am more of a mentor. I like to help people in the process of going from A to B. My faith in Jesus Christ is my number one inspiration to help others. Second to that is my love for music. I genuinely want to see others succeed in their musical dreams. And I firmly believe that if are they willing to give to others, it will open doors of greater opportunities down the line.
Are there any events coming up in the future for you?
Yes! Stay tuned for Open Mic nights @nsaagrafton featuring the Musicans of Wisconsin facebook group. The next one will be 2/19 at 6pm. We are also performing an adult/youth version of the musical HAIRSPRAY at Nicolet 4/29-5/1.
Any shout outs you want to give?
I would like to thank international blues musician/mentor Michael “Hawkeye” Herman and former Worship Pastor Tracy Martin for being two of my strongest mentors. I would also like to commend the folks at the Grafton Blues Association for the fine work they do presenting an annual blues festival in Grafton as well as other blues related events. I would like to thank African American playwright Kevin Ramsey for creating the musicals “Grafton City Blues” and “Chasin’ Dem Blues” about the Paramount record label. I would like to thank my friend and Dutch author/researcher/historian Alex van der Tuuk, my Japanese blues research/musician friend Akira Kikuchi and my online friends throughout the world who have taken the time to converse with me. I am very blessed to be able to work at NSAA and love all of my fellow coworkers.
And finally, we know you are a social media addicted person, where can we find you online?
You can find me on twitter as @twirlygirlmuse and @sociofocus. You can “friend me” as “Angie K Mack” on facebook. I currently manage content and social media for several websites including
I’m also on YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare and MySpace.
Amerikas Addiction would like to thank Angie for her time in doing this interview! We hope some of our followers and addicts and who ever is reading this, will do themselves a favor and contact you and learn more about what you do and who you are! Keep doing what you desire ANGIE!
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DO WHAT YOU DESIRE…
Much thanks to John Gardner of The World Music Foundation for capturing this very important story that has global influence!
- Angie Mack Reilly and Paramount Records History
- 2000-2008: Leaving Legacies
- A Prophet is Not Without Honor Except in His Own Town
- The New York Parrot TV Interviews Angie
- Paramount Angie Gives a Lecture About Blues History to a Group of Students
Please consider supporting Angie’s work in music through Arts Wisconsin
“Voices” by Angela K. Mack © 1/6/09
mainly, voices of inexperience
wanting to be heard yet lacking the depth
THAT COMES WITH LIVING.
needs that want to be met
that chase me down and sap me
IF I AM NOT TOO CAREFUL.
I listen to VOICES for a living…..
the arguing voice, the whining voice,
the voice of reason and seduction
AND I AM OVERWHELMED.
But occasionally, very rare, I get to SPEAK.
My passions and my soul are GIVEN CONSIDERATION.
My words are dissected and analyzed by CURIOUS MINDS.
And once a year, I get to sing and be heard.
I get to write and be understood.
It is a great thing when one is listened to.
It is a great thing when expression is found by acceptance.
It is a great thing when the suppressed emotions are released in resounding strengths.
This is why I listen to VOICES for a living.
“Do unto others as you want them to do for you……..”