Rev. Lee… Exposed


“This is a song about a very big, black, strong, sexy southern baptist minister,
who thinks that he’s got his program all together until he runs up against a lady
who shows him that he ain’t got it all together.His name is Rev. Doctor Lee…”

I grew up in the 70s, enjoying music and lyrics by everyone from Earth, Wind, and Fire to Janis Ian to Rufus featuring Chaka Khan. I was introduced to Roberta Flack by my parents, who were musical proponents and lovers of artists such as Miles Davis, Nancy Wilson, Sergio Mendes,  and Thelonius Monk. It did not take me long to attach my feelings to Roberta Flack, who was oh-so-natural in her artistic ability to express the vibe behind the words that she was given to sing.

I was introduced to “Rev. Lee” long before my experiences as a woman, and much longer than my ability to really know and understand the chemistry between a man and a woman. I was blessed to experience the meaning of marriage [as I knew it] between two loving adults, but my teenage understanding in the 70s (if that’s what you want to call it) was based on 2 working parents, dinner at 6 PM each night, and what I could order from the Sears catalog to decorate my home. I was not privy to the chemistry that exists between a man and a woman.

Chemistry goes far beyond lust, in that it is not just an innate attraction to someone based on their education, looks, and/or financial status.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, chemistry is “the complex emotional or psychological interaction between two people…” be it right or wrong, according to ethics or moral beliefs. I take it a step further and say that chemistry is undeniably tangible and difficult to understand… especially when it appears in life at the most obscene and inconvenient moment, which brings me beautifully back to Rev. Lee… a man chemically attracted to a woman outside of his belief structure.

Referring to his vexation as “ole Satan’s daughter,” he wrestled with his beliefs as a man of God and a messenger of the Almighty, based on the Holy Bible or his personal beliefs. But Rev. Lee could have wrestled with more than just a chemical attraction: the words point to any and every thing that a man struggles with on a daily basis, from addiction to needs to wants, and everything in between. “The Prayer of Rev. Lee” (my painting) depicts a man humbled to bring him to his knees and wanting to reattached himself to his Source of strength and supply.

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This illustration pays homage to a song originally written by Gene McDaniel,
and made famous by Roberta Flack in the early 1970s.


3 thoughts on “Rev. Lee… Exposed

  1. When I saw the title of the piece, I knee immediately that you were familiar with Roberta Flack. As a youth, it cemented gossip I used to hear about “church folk”. Now you’ve visualized it,and very well I might add.

  2. I SIMPLY CANNOT BELIEVE I am reading about this. This song has been on my mind for days! I am at 50 years old, but w/older sibs by 10 years, I grew up learning/listening about the greats. Roberta was a main stay. I used to belt this song OUT much to my mother’s ‘no’, especially the ‘pantin’ & breathin’ part (hhha!!!!). Thanks for a wonderful memory; your works are magical!

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