Today I was heartbroken to learn that a friend and collaborator of enormous talent, spirit and energy, has left this world forever.
If you ever met Major Van Winkle, you were not likely to forget him. Major was a musician and rapper whose freestyling was at a level I have never witnessed anywhere else – you may have seen him on the news rapping about the Eagles from time to time. He and I were both working at a concert with an international superband called the One People Band last year, and as Eric Bazilian closed out the show by performing probably his 9,000th rendition of his famous classic “[What if God was] One of Us,” he looked to Major in the wings and invited him to come out and rap. And without a single instant of preparation, Major ran up to the mic and blew the entire room away.
It wasn’t just the cleverness and alacrity with rhymes that made that moment, though – more than anything, it was his heart. In just 38 seconds, Major took us on a journey unlike anything I have ever experienced, ending with the following impromptu lyrics:
“I don’t even know if it’s a question mark
Can I find God in war and art?
Can I find God in love and peace?
Can I find God in you and me?
Can I find God in all the above?
‘Cause God is just love.”
For the next minute, the entire band (and the entire audience) all sang together, again and again:
“God is love.”
It devastates me to no end that people who radiate nothing but joy into the universe seem too often to have so little left for themselves.
The world is a much sadder place without Major in it. I will miss him, and all of the work and collaborations we talked about but will never get to do. But I will never forget his passion, charm, charisma, talent, resourcefulness, and absolutely pure love of music. Rest in peace, Major – you will never be forgotten.