Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog

Minnie Julia Riperton Rudolph (November 8, 1947 – July 12, 1979)


Stevie knew Minnie was a perfect angel.

But isn’t it superfluous to say that someone is an angel and then have to qualify their angelness by saying they are perfect?

Isn’t being angelic by definition a state of perfection? Is there such a thing as an imperfect angel? Perhaps, if you are an angel you are good at being an angel but not so good, or even ungood, at being something other than an angel. You’re not good at basketball, or cooking, or astral physics.

Which begs the question: what is an angel? Are their stages or levels of angel-ity?

Who knows? We just know that Stevie saw Minnie as a perfect Angel.

Was it just because of her voice? Or was it some other quality that Minnie had?


One of her albums was called Adventures In Paradise. Is paradise a real place–a place without any troubles, trials, or tribulations? Maybe paradise is not about a specific earthly location but rather about our own abilities to deal with whatever happens, to overcome hardships. Gracefully. To cross the water without drowning.

Because you know into each life some rain must fall. The question becomes can we swim, can we not get flooded out?

Minnie had that fire. She burned brightly, and thereby, lit the way enabling a lot of us to see. One of my favorite recordings was her “Light My Fire” duet with José Feliciano.


Indeed, as Minnie so wonderfully, and funkily articulated, a major part of life is remembering the good times, which good times inevitably includes successfully overcoming the bad.

However, Minnie also had to deal with a terminal illness. Minnie died young at 31. But while she was here… she lived, lived to her fullness.

Life may be different for each of us, but the real question is are we doing our best, given whatever are the circumstances, whatever are our capabilities, are we living at our best, doing all we can possibly do?

Moreover, for Minnie, being an angel did not mean being sanctimonious. Did not mean not having fun, or as she put it: dancin’ and actin’ crazy. Oh, what a sight, an angel dancing, totally getting down.


She had two children. She truly knew how to make love/how to love others.

One of her records celebrating carnality with a partner got her banned from a lot of stations, but she knew it was cool. Let the squares do what squares do, she just kept rolling along.

Minnie knew that even the birds and bees did it, and she would not deny that joy nor the resultant responsibilities. For her, rearing children was as much a part of life as making and birthing children.

Who was she, this perfect angel? Here is a biographical documentary. An essential aspect of her perfection was her music that she freely shared with us. All hail Minnie Riperton.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS