Tokyo Japan Interview: Thousand Books Publishing

Interview Japan, Tokyo   January 2018
Thousand of Books Publishing/ I See the Rhythm  interview with Michele Wood
Questions by Peter Barakan
"I See the Rhythm of Plantations" from I See the Rhythm Picture Book

Question: Would you tell us why and how you came to create this book? And, how did you meet Toyomi?

How I came to create “i see the rhythm” book is because of the success of Going Back Home: An Artist Return to the South. It won the American Book award. Harriet Rohmer, the founder of Children’s Book Press, asked me to create another book.

What would I like to create? Who did I want to work with? I chose the subject of music because I was very familiar with the music. I was fortunate to have met great musicians like Layman Jackson. We called him “Action Jackson.” He once gave me a recording of him and Billy Holiday. Unfortunately, I lost it. I knew other musicians as well and learned a lot from them like Evelyn White a jazz pianist who was discovered by Tony Bennet. I wrote Evelyn Whites name on the piano in the Jazz Women page. She is actually playing the piano. The little girl under the big piano is Missy. That is me. She is located throughout each page.
I understood music and its rhythm. Music is more than just sound. Music has complexities and is compounded. Compounded with rhythm, history, culture, and art all linking together seamlessly.

Question: How are music and art related to you?

Artist Comment: Music is relational and opens a world of learning possibilities. Music is so expressive that it becomes another viable tool to learn from. It is my belief to tap into all the senses because we learn in different ways.

I see the rhythm is expressive. Each decade conveys a message like I See the Rhythm of Plantations. I tried to capture the rice fields in the low country area of Georgia. The African people came to the United States with knowledge of how to harvest rice. They worked tirelessly. At times, while they worked the wet rice fields in the marshlands, they sang work songs or spirituals as they worked in rhythmic harmony. The spirituals offered hope and freedom. Spirituals served dual purposes. Songs used for the Underground Railroad had hidden meanings like Swing Low Sweet Chariot. The verse “looked over Jordan what did I see” has meaning. River Jordan refers to the Ohio River. The word heaven generally meant Canada. Canada was the ultimate destination of the runaway slave because It was a country without slavery.

I paint the history of music. I do not paint music. It was my goal to capture the spirit of the people. I want the reader to see the music in their lives. The challenge was to capture the story I wanted to tell. Researching the history and actually living in the south provided rich information. In reference to I See the Rhythm of Plantations, years after the book was published, I was invited to see where the rice fields were planted in Georgia. We went about 5: am in the morning to the marshlands. The water was so steal that it looked like glass. As the boat danced across the water you can see the wetlands and envision ancestors working the fields. It was my intention to paint the rice plantations because no one talks about it. When we think of slavery we think of cotton. The music I paint captures the spirit and joy you receive.

Question: Many Japanese images gospel when they think about the black music. Is gospel still relevant in African American society today?

Artist Comment: Yes, it is alive and well.

Question: What do you think is the importance of gospel within the overall history of black music?

Artist Comment:
The importance of the Gospel is love in my opinion. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ( Mathew 22:37)
"Gospel music is like a thread that weaves a praise of love that becomes a sweet bouquet to the Lord"-per Michele Wood. The Lord is worthy to be praised. (2 Samuel 22:4)
Gospel spreads the message of love which gives birth to hope. Hope is to reach for the future. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).
The beauty of the Gospel of Christ tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself”-(Mark 12:31) We as neighbors can share the gospel within the overall history of black music which is woven with joy, people’s experiences that are rich with essence of the heart, and beauty of the soul.
-Michele Wood

What is your favorite Black music? Do you have a preference for solo singers, quarters, or choirs?
My favorite black music is Gospel music? At this time, I am listening to Yes by Shekinah Glory Ministry-, Break Every Chain by Tasha Cobbs and Victory by Eben
I prefer solo singers.


Break Every Chain (Live) - Tasha Cobbs

3.3M views2 years ago

Shekinah Glory Ministry-Yes (Extended Version) - YouTube

Eben - Victory (Official Music Video)
489K views1 year ago
Eben presents the official music video for 'Victory'. Download 'Magnified' on iTunes: http://sm

Would give a message to Japanese music fan and founding supporters?
Jesus commands us to love the least of these. The symphony of Love shows no sign of prejudice, racism, or oppression. The beauty of love shines His face upon you. The product of love is to live in harmony.
Thank you for the love you are showing us. May mercy and grace be with you all.
Michele Wood