Tina Turner is Dead. Long Live Tina Turner.

This morning after my usual writing meditations by the fire, I turned on my computer to resume reviewing a novel I’m preparing for publication.  Before I could click on my word doc, I caught the headline, “Tina Turner Dies.”  Reading that headline, I felt the familiar stirrings of grief and gratitude.


The woman who taught us how to heal and how to thrive against all odds.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was lucky to be born in Windsor, Ontario, across from Detroit, the birthplace of Motown music. Back then, we were for the most part callow youth in a traumatized culture, unaware of injustices and violations against people, water, air, and land.  Still, our generation of city kids – now referred to as Boomers, often with the disdain leveled at plunderers of the world – were among  the first to receive an amazing cultural gift, music that connects us to rhythm and blues, to aliveness, to Soul.

I found the courage to dance because of the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and so many more Motown artists.  Elvis might have thawed to some degree my older sister’s generation, but only because Chuck Berry heated the atmosphere before the white kids crowned young Elvis King.  For many of us within Motown’s sphere of influence , dancing became a form of spiritual release.  We needed this release, trapped as we were in the budding consumer culture that was meant to make up for the lingering horrors of World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, Korea, and the unfolding horrors of racism and Vietnam. In this highly charged traumatic atmosphere, dancing to Motown music became our somatic therapy, our way of temporarily discharging anxiety over atom bombs, nuclear threats, social and economic inequities, and the bogus belief that a new car could solve all problems.

And then came Tina.

When the luster of adolescence faded and we began our consumer-driven, house-proud sentences, Tina exploded as the woman who triumphed over captivity and docility.  Her passionate gritty voice conveyed how to belong to one’s self/Self in the face of malevolence that would have us chained to the established status quo.  She taught by example how to break free when she broke free. She didn’t sugar coat the effort it took to be the remarkable breakout Tina.  She worked on stage.  She let us see her sweat.  She never stopped moving, or singing, and by osmosis she told us we could do the same.

She also showed us how to spiritually escape when physical escape was impossible, chanting her Buddhist prayers under threat of unspeakable violence.

Over her time on this beautiful Earth, Tina Turner became for many of us an embodied Goddess, triumphing over the harm false gods and mere mortals do with their attempts to threaten us into submission.

Thank you, Tina.

So many of us alive today sing “Proud Mary” like the liberation anthem you made it, Beautiful Tina.  You and your generous Soul inspired us.  Seeing you sing and dance, we understood we too might triumph.  You gave us the courage to keep on keeping on,  along with our dancing legs and our untamable dreams of freedom.

with sorrow and joy

until next time,