I only hope that one day, America will recognize what the rest of the world already has known, that our indigenous music - gospel, blues, jazz and R&B - is the heart and soul of all popular music; and that we cannot afford to let this legacy slip into obscurity, I'm telling you.
I was inspired by a lot of people when I was young. Every band that came through town, to the theater, or the dance hall. I was at every dance, every night club, listened to every band that came through, because in those days we didn't have MTV, we didn't have television.
Bebop and hip-hop, in so many ways, they're connected. A lot of rappers remind me so much of bebop guys in terms of improvisation, beats and rhymes. My dream is to see hip-hop incorporated in education. You've got the youth of the world in the palm of your hand.
I lost my mother when I was 7 and they put her in a mental hospital. My brother and I watched her being taken away in a strait jacket. That's something you never forget. And my stepmother was like in the movie 'Precious.' I couldn't handle it. So I said to myself, 'I don't have a mother. I don't need one. I'm going to let music be my mother.'