Albertina Merci, a talented R&B singer, toured with Ray Charles, James Brown, and Wilson Pickett--until the fateful night her voice gave out in front of a sold-out crowd. Encouraged by her fans, she offered a little speech in praise of Jesus instead of a song. Her spontaneous words became the seed of "Sanctified Blues," a song that soon captured the hearts of millions and gave Albertina the financial security to follow her true calling as an evangelist--sharing the Gospel with those in need of spiritual comfort. Sanctified Blues is the story of Albertina's encounter with Maggie Clay, the biracial beauty who is TV's reigning diva. A sudden mystery surrounding Maggie has the entire country wondering: Is Maggie having a nervous breakdown, and if so, why? What caused it? And who can save the star from self-destruction?Sanctified Blues introduces a heroine in the vein of Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote and Precious Ramotswe, head of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Her quiet but determined mission to solve spiritual mysteries and dilemmas will endear Albertina to both secular and Christian readers.
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June 12, 2006
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Excerpt from Sanctified Blues by Mable John
"He made known to us
the mystery of His will...
Say a Little Prayer
I start out every morning in prayer, setting my life out in a motion that moves toward the Lord. Then I get quiet and simply listen. Sometimes I don't hear Him, though, because Justine, my next-door neighbor, is already knocking at the door. Knocking hard. Justine is something else.
"Hold on, baby," I say. "Getting there fast as I can."
"You look tired, Albertina," says Justine. "Didn't sleep well?"
"Haven't had my morning coffee."
"I'll make us a pot. It'll be ready by the time Maggie goes on."
Maggie, of course, is Maggie Clay. Every day of the week Justine comes over to watch Maggie's World. Couldn't stop her if I wanted to. Truth be told, I like watching the show with Justine. Justine puts on more of a show than Maggie.
"When you watch Maggie," says Justine, who has marched into my kitchen and is busy making coffee, "you learn everything you need to know about how a Black woman can get rich in white America."
"I don't see it that way, sweetheart. I was reading in the book of Joshua the other day--"
"Here we go again with the Bible--"
"I don't know any other book so packed full of wisdom."
"Alright," Justine says with resignation. "Go on. Tell me about Joshua."
"It's a passage--Joshua 1:8--that's basically saying that God is the source of wealth and success. There's no true prosperity without Him."
"Well, it looks to me like Maggie is sure enough prosperous. Whether God is behind it or whether it's her own genius brain, I just don't know. All I know is that Maggie's the richest Black woman in the history of blackness."
"It isn't about Blackness or whiteness, baby. It's from one blood that God created all nations, all men, all women."
"You get that little nugget from the Bible as well?"
"Acts 17:26. Someday you really oughta take a look at that book."
"Why do that, Albertina, when I have you around quoting all the good parts to me?"
"You'll see yourself in so many of the stories."
"Right now I just want to see what color her hair's gonna be today. First of the month comes around and Maggie has a new shade. It's April first and I'm guessing red highlights. Heavy red highlights."
"April first will fool you, Justine."
"Maggie don't fool me none. She's going for red, I know she is. She has to. She's tried everything. What's left?"
"Before you start tearing up Maggie, I think we better pray."
"You usually get your praying out of the way before I get here."
"I'm having a slow morning, baby. Just give me your hand."
Justine raises her eyebrow skeptically, as if to say, Here she goes again, but gives me her hand. We're standing by the stove where the fragrance of fresh coffee floats in the air.
"Father God," I say, "we thank You for this day. We thank You for the breath we breathe. You are the breath we breathe. You are the breath of life. We thank You for our friendship and our families and the food we eat. You say in Isaiah 53:4 and 5 that You bore our grief and by your scourging we are healed, right here, right now. So we thank You. We thank You for Your suffering, we thank You for our salvation, we thank You for life eternal. We magnify You, we glorify You, we praise You. We thank You for the gift of Your life because You are our life. And we say all this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen."
"Amen," Justine repeats. "That was sweet. Does that get me off the hook for what I did last night?"
"I'm not sure I want to know what you did last night, baby."
"Lord, have mercy," I say.
"He's back," says Justine.
"Now is all I know."
"You know more than you like to let on. Sugar, you know all about Herman," I tell her.
"You say accept folk the way they are. You say, we can't change people, only God can."
"That's what I believe," I say.
"Well, I believe it too. Herman is Herman."
"And self-respect is self-respect."
"What's that supposed to mean?"