Mother’s Day Playlist

Mother’s Day was second only to Christmas in my household. My maternal grandmother was orphaned as a child, so Mother’s Day was like a mini family reunion. Birthday parties were only cousins because after they showed up who had room to invite friends. I recall that on any given day during summer break, if my mom or another aunt was at Granny’s house before long at least two or three more aunts would come by with their children. But Mother’s Day was special. Everyone and their children were expected to be at Grandma’s for Mother’s Day. If they couldn’t make it, you knew that they would call Grandma’s and the phone with long extension cord would pass from person to person so everyone could say hi to the missing sheep. Mother’s Day featured sports, dancing, and good eating. One Mother’s Day, we had a softball game, mothers against husbands. Every Mother’s Day, there was a double-dutch jump rope and hula hoop competition – mothers versus daughters. The mothers would win. They reminded us they still had it.

The dancing was how my dance style formed. There was a protocol. We started with old folks’ music and worked our way up to present day young folks’ music. My Granny was from Mississippi and the blues was played every day except Sunday mornings when gospel played. On Mother’s Day all the grown folk would get on the living room floor and show us how they did it back in the day. My Granny showed us how they danced in the juke joints of the delta south. That was the first time I saw the “stanky legs” dance that kids dance now. Granny said that was the move in the juke joints. Then my aunts would dance and show us the popular dances when they were teenagers. I loved watching everyone form a big strong line to do the Madison Time and The Roach. My younger aunts would get a roar when they took over the floor and danced the Atomic Dog that would make modern day twerkers blush. Being from Chicago, the day could not end before the couples danced to a stepper’s song. To this day, I can’t step as well as my aunts and uncles. To me, watching my parents, aunts and uncles, stepping with their spouses and significant others was the epitome of black love. Each couple had their own style and swag. My dad and his brothers stood out in their fedoras or bowler hats. They way the men styled and profiled dancing with their women mesmerized me.

After my Granny passed, every year on Mother’s Day, one aunt would host and everyone brought dishes they were known for. Us young folk were not allowed to make a dish until approved. Not until the past ten years have my cousins and I been approved for making dishes. Let the wrong person make potato salad! One time, someone made an unapproved dish. The dish was thrown away. Someone suggested giving it to the dog. An aunt yelled, “Don’t feed that sh*t to the dog!”

When my mom hosted Mother’s Day, I made a playlist that reminded me of my childhood memories. To this day, my nieces and nephews know the Madison Time and other dances because before anybody could Soulja Boy Tell Em, you had to pay homage to the past.

Here’s my Mother’s Day playlist. Enjoy!

Fingertips Pt 2 by Stevie Wonder

Shake & Fingerpop by Jr. Walker & the All Stars

Shotgun by Jr. Walker & the All Stars

I Wish by Stevie Wonder

Hey Love by Stevie Wonder

The Madison Time by Ray Bryant Combo

The Roach Dance by Gene & Wendell

I’m Blue (Gong -Gong Song) by Ikettes

Shake a Tailfeather by Five Du-Tones

Cleo’s Back by Jr. Walker & the All Stars

Bring it Home to Me by Sam Cooke

Baby Workout by Jackie Wilson

Lonely Teardrops by Jackie Wilson

Having a Party by Sam Cooke

Sunshine by The Enchantment

Seventh Son by Willie Dixon

Hoochie Coochie Man by Muddy Waters

Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters

Smokestack Lightnin’ by Howlin’ Wolf

Rollin’ Stone by Muddy Waters

Juke by Little Walter

Don’t Start Me Talkin’ by Sonny Boy Williamson II

Eisenhower Blues by J.B. Lenior

Boom Boom by John Lee Hooker

Hound Dog by Big Mama Thorton

Got My Mojo Working by Muddy Waters

Paying the Cost to Be the Boss by BB King

Make It Funky by James Brown

Say It Loud by James Brown

Best of My Love by The Emotions

On & On by Gladys Knight & Pips

Square Biz by Teena Marie

Casper Cha-Cha Slide by Casper & The Live Platinum Band

Bus Stop/Electric Slide by Hudson Beaudy & Charles Green

Rock Steady by Aretha Franklin

Think by Aretha Franklin

Every Time I Turn Around Back in Love Again by LTD

Before I Let Go by Frankie Beverly & Maze

Love & Happiness by Al Green

Joy & Pain by Frankie Beverly & Maze

School Boy Crush by Average White Band

I’ll Always Love My Mama by The Intruders

Sadie by The Spinners

Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.