One of my longtime friends who now lives in Brooklyn, Greg Hendricks, sent me an e-mail that made me so some pondering. He said so much of what is identified today as “talent” escapes him.

Greg has always been harsher than yours truly when it comes to such assessments. But I could still understand where he was coming from.

At the time of the e-mail, he was preparing to go to a concert starring Maxwell and Jill Scott, each of whom he described as “a real talent.”  (I could never argue with that.)

There is a lot of music being made currently that just bores me. Take Rihanna, for example. I’m happy for her success, but her voice grates on my nerves and, hence, boredom sets in quickly.

Listening to Lady Gaga seldom holds my interest.

Interchangeable rock bands like Nickleback, Stone Temple Pilots and Coldplay all suffer from lack of originality, unlike, say, the Beatles, the Who and the Rolling Stones.

There are few male R&B vocalists right now who are even in the same league as Luther Vandross, Ron Isley or Jeffrey Osborne.  (We’re glad Isley is back out there and working again.)  No female on the charts can touch Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan or Patti LaBelle.

When you’ve enjoyed the best, like Prince and Jackie Wilson, it is difficult to get into, or in many cases even tolerate, mediocrity.

The finalists on “American Idol” this season were so boring that I couldn’t even watch. This is a far cry from outstanding singers from previous seasons like Melinda Doolittle, Bo Bice, Fantasia, Adam Lambert, David Archuleta, Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood.

The problem, as is the case in society in general, is that excellence and originality are not emphasized, or often even sought after.  Which means the better acts — who have talent, creativity and originality — have a tougher time getting through.

Earth, Wind & Fire said if they were just starting out today, they probably would not make it because they are unique, not a bland, cookie-cutter act.

A sad assessment, but a true one.

ALICIA KEYS, as you probably know, is expecting her first child and plans to tie the knot later this year. The father/future husband is music producer Swizz Beatz, whose real name is Kasseem Dean. He’s Iranian-American, but as they say, “he looks like he’s got some Black in him.”

Hope this is not a rebound thing for Swizz because he was recently divorced. (His ex-wife is Black.)

Sorry to hear that Walter Williams, the original member of the O’Jays who still shares the stage with fellow original Eddie Levert, has been fighting multiple sclerosis for a long time now.

“I am a living example that you can live with MS with a great attitude, eating properly, exercising, and talking to a health care professional to find out what is best for you regarding treatment.”

Williams, who has a solo album titled “Exposed” available via digital retailers, is to be commended for his tenacity.

QUEEN LATIFAH sure is a fan of the Black Eyed Peas. (So am I.) She said, “Every time you see them at an awards show, or this or that event, they are just always cool. They’re consistent too. There’s something about ‘I Gotta Feeling’ that just gets me excited.”

Steve Cropper, guitarist from Booker T. & he MG’s, and Felix Cavaliere, singer/organist from the Rascals, have an album as a duo titled “Midnight Flyer” coming out June 15.

And next month we can expect a new release from Fantasia.

A few weeks ago I wrote about great stars who cannot be replaced, such as Nina Simone, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, James Brown, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne and Marvin Gaye.

Well, reader Von Harrell had more to add, including Ray Charles, the classic Temptations (David, Eddie, Otis, Melvin and Paul), Steve Allen, the Nicholas Brothers, Pearl Bailey, Marilyn Monroe, Curtis Mayfield, Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, Dorothy Dandridge, Otis Redding, Dean Martin, Richard Pryor and Teddy Pendergrass.

Erykah Badu, in typical style, pulled no punches in defending the video for “Window Seat” in which she walks down the  street, takes off all her clothes and is gunned down. (Everything in it has a sociological meaning.)

“I have no regrets,” she said. “Human beings don’t scare me. Only my own lack of will scares me. If you choose to watch the video, you don’t have to like it. You can complain. You can protest. But that’s where your rights stop. You don’t have the right to censor art or anyone else’s opinion.”

…that despite popular belief, Mary Wells had several successful recordings after leaving Motown, namely “Dear Lover” (No. 6 on the national charts), “Use Your Head” (No. 13), “Never, Never Leave Me” (No. 15), “The Doctor” (No. 22) and “Ain’t It the Truth” (No. 6). But the songs are rarely heard today.

MEMORIES: “One in a Million You” (Larry Graham), “Let’s Wait Awhile” (Janet Jackson), “Don’t Be Cruel” (Bobby Brown), “Tell Mama” (Etta James), “Call Me” (Aretha Franklin), “Jack and Jill” (Raydio), “Dare Me” (the Pointer Sisters), “I Love Your Smile” (Shanice), “Out of Sight” (James Brown), “Young Hearts Run Free” (Candi Staton), “Overjoyed” (Stevie Wonder).

BLESSINGS to Deborah McIntosh, Arnold Hannon, Renita Clark, Ingrid Hatcher, Robert McTyre, Carmela McTyre, Eddie Allen, Joan Rogers, Bobby Rogers and Sylvia Quarles.

, from the Bible:  “There is one Lawgiver who is able to save and destroy. Who are you to judge someone else?”

Let the music play!

(Steve Holsey can be reached at Svh517@aol.com and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.)

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