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Charity Meets: Narada Michael Walden

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Charity Meets: Narada Michael Walden

Narada and Whitney Houston  (photo credit: NMW Files)

Narada and Whitney Houston (photo credit: NMW Files)

Narada Michael Walden is a Grammy and Emmy Award winning artist and producer who helped Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and countless others rise to fame.
Additionally, he has worked and performed with greats such as Carlos Santana and B.B. King.
He was recently ranked as one of the top music icons of all-time, but he is also known as one of the most down-to-earth and humbled souls in the music business.Besides producing and performing, Narada is the founder of the well known Narada Michael Walden Foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to making a difference in the lives of young people through music and is focused on delivering sustainable improvements in music appreciation and education.I spoke to Narada about his kindness, music and life…
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Why is giving back so important to you? 
Well had it not given to me I would not have been able to share and give, so I am wanting to be the example that has been the example in my life with my mother, my father and my grandparents raising me up right to think about kindness and respect and caring for others.  To love and to serve others, even my guru Sri Chinmoy, to love and to serve, it was a big restaurant called To Love and To Serve and every day we had to do a minimal hour if not more selfless service a day.  And of course I went to Catholic school as a kid and we had to help others, and at home with my family we had to help the other children.  It’s always important to give back.

Narada with kids he supports through The Narada Michael Walden Foundation (photo credit: NMW Files)

Narada with kids he supports through The Narada Michael Walden Foundation (photo credit: NMW Files)

How has giving back helped you? Giving back has helped me to realize I’m a good person.  When I give I feel better.  The more I do the better I feel.
How do you incorporate giving back into your life and your work? Every day I try to be open hearted with my daughters, with my wife, my staff, my workers, my team, Carlos Santana at the studio, who ever and wherever, I try to be openhearted and selfless in my giving, because I know it is the God Way.
Which charities are near and dear to you and why? Well the Narada Michael Walden Foundation is nearest and dearest to me because we help children with music and I feel this is the most important cause to keep kids singing and playing music and keeping their minds on a high purpose for for their life, for the betterment of their progress and development.

Favorite food
: I love food, only thing I don’t eat is pork, it makes me sick.   Besides that I like a lot of foods, Indian food, Mexican food, Italian food, French food, I like all foods.
Favorite cocktail: I like margaritas.  I can feel it the next morning, that’s the only thing I don’t like about it.
Favorite restaurant: Locally here the Cantina is very nice for Mexican food and I also like the Buckeye locally here in Mill Valley.
If you could host a dinner party, who would you invite living or dead?  I would invite Quincy Jones, Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder and Sting.  And then dead; Of course you have to have there Abraham Lincoln to thank him for helping to free the slaves, and Harriet Tubman it would be very sweet to have because Stevie Wonder wants to do a movie on her and it would be great to have her input, the great Ray Charles would have to be there because without him we aren’t doing what we’re doing and in closing, how about Sammy Davis Jr…. the greatest entertainer of all time.
Favorite vacation spot: Bora Bora and Hawaii.  And I did like this place way out in the middle of nowhere called Exuma
Favorite TV show: Back in the old days, The Love Boat, also Gomer Pile’s show I liked a lot as a kid.  I used to love Hallabaloo and those type of music shows, helped me out a lot when I was living in Michigan.
Narada and Willie Nelson (photo credit: NMW Files)

Narada and Willie Nelson (photo credit: NMW Files)

Favorite movie: On the road to calm myself down with Jeff Beck tour I would watch Breakfast at Tiffanys with Audrey Hepburn
Favorite song: Long & Winding Road by Paul McCartney & the Beatles, and I lIke all the album Billie Holiday’s “Lady in Satin”
Favorite book:Right now I’m looking at this book called “The Song of Krishna – The Illustrated Bahgavad Gita”.  Beautiful!
Favorite apps:  I like Narada’s app on the iphone BigBangBeat.  I also use iphone voice memo app alot.  I record all my song demos on the voice memo app.  I like itunes a lot.  So much music is there I listen to and study, play back in my car, it’s nice.  Not as nice as the albums though, but they are cool.  And it’s always fun with the JibJab.
Favorite animal:  I love elephants, I like the Pandas, I like bears, my dads a bear, I’m a part of the bear family and I married into the lion family with my wife, kitty cat and the wild cat and her dad, they’re all a bunch of lions.  I like all animals.  I think animals are gods sweetest gift to humanity.  It inspires us to be pure.
What experience in your life are you most proud of? I am just proud that I’m here.  I’m proud that I have my brother Ronald as my brother, and my brother Kev, Chris, and my sister Yolanda, Edie, my dad Big H, and my mom Ms. Peg, and my Grampa Val, Gramma Edie, Gramma Nellie.  My family really raised me right, the twins, Uncle Trav and Uncle Edgar.  I’m just so blessed to have those rich people around me that were living examples of how to love music, how to love yourself, how to take care of yourself, how to always think of the right thing to do and it’s ok to be outspoken.  You know if you don’t have example, you think like I shouldn’t’ be outspoken.  My family was very outspoken.  They taught me it was ok to be outspoken.  So here we go.
What advice would you share with those looking at getting into the music industry? Well, wash your hands, take showers and smell nice.  Nobody wants to run with a rank cat, a rank kitten.  Have some profound ideas, some forward thinking ideas.  And commercial’s cool. There’s nothing wrong with being commercial.  All commercial means is lots of folks are gonna grab onto what you are doing.  So be profound and prolific and commercial.  You know, be able to get your message out there, be able to think simple and strong.  You know less is more.If you’re a singer be a great singer. What ever you, If you’re a pro tools guy, be a great pro tools cat.
Narada rehearsing in-studio for his annual holiday charity jam (photo credit: NMW Files)

Narada rehearsing in-studio for his annual holiday charity jam (photo credit: NMW Files)

What do you love most about creating music? Well, It’s the highest calling on the planet.  If you think about it slence is the highest, and right next to silence comes music all over the world.  I can to Japan, I can go to Australia, I can go anywhere in the world, Darkest parts of Africa where they may not speak the language but they will feel the music.  They will feel, FEEL the music and that is a power my friend that I most enjoy being around and with in…as Stevie Wonder says “In time, on time for all time”.
What song in your career are you most proud of? Well I gotta say I loved “I Shoulda Loved Ya”, all that Funk coming at you.  And I loved “Divine Emotions”; I loved “High Above the Clouds”.  I love all my music.  I must say, I’m a fan of Narada music.  God chose me to be a vehicle for Narada Music and I’m very proud of that bestowing.
What one thing would you change in this world if you could? Poverty, ignorance, all suffering, that we have love and share love and a high toast and a glass of champagne for everyone!

In 2008, I launched AskMissA.com which grew from my personal blog into a site with 700 writers, covering the intersection of charity & lifestyle in 20 U.S. cities. With Charity + Life, I am going back to a personal blog where I can share my favorite things, and continue to shine a light on nonprofits, and cause marketing campaigns to inspire others to give as they live.

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