According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in men of other races. Furthermore, African-American men are also more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men.
WunTu Media sat down with one musician’s brother who knows these facts all too well. Today, he and his family are fighting back strong against prostate cancer, and turning their grief into awareness to save lives:
WUNTU MEDIA: Your brother, James ‘Jimmy’ Stowe, was a legendary musician of the New York City jazz scene. What do you want the world to know about him and his accomplishments?
WENDELL STOWE: One of James’ accomplishments was to extend the musical appreciation and achievement in Stowe family. Our father, William Stowe, was a keyboard player. James followed his musical lead by learning the clarinet, and eventually the trombone. He began playing at an early age at Bethany Baptist Church in Jamaica Queens, NY. Our father, and his brother, Eugene, both piano players, were quite proud of him, and all of us appreciated live music even more!
I watched my brother James extend his musical growth with the Barletts Contempories, and the famous Tom Browne 1980 funk classic “Funkin’ for Jamaica (N.Y.)” James played trombone on the successful single.
Below: The Late James ‘Jimmy’ Stowe, in the classic ‘Funkin’ for Jamaica N.Y. video. Mr. Stowe is seen the background (wearing glasses and a maroon sweater, on the left.)
Below, from left: The Late James ‘Jimmy’ Stowe, his brother Wendell Stowe, Tom Browne of ‘Funkin’ for Jamaica (N.Y.),’ along with other Stowe Family members.
WUNTU MEDIA: I understand that after your brother James lost his battle with cancer, you and your other two brothers, Phillip and Ralph, underwent successful prostatectomies, precipitated by the benefits of early cancer screenings. Do you believe Jame’s death may in some way have saved the rest of you from meeting the same fate?
WENDELL STOWE: Absolutely. James’s greatest accomplishment was saving the lives of his three brothers – myself (Wendell), as well as Phillip and Ralph, by making us aware of prostate cancer. It was he that educated us on the importance of having a screening done. Unfortunately for James, the cancer had reached a point where it couldn’t be stopped, and his lost his battle at the age of 61.
WUNTU MEDIA: Why did your family create the non-profit ‘Jazz for Prostate Cancer Awareness’ (Jazz4PCA)? What do you all hope will occur as a result of sharing your brother story with others?
WENDELL STOWE: My brother, Ralph, created Jazz4PCA to help men become aware of prostate cancer, by using jazz as a backdrop, as well as the doctors that helped cure us, to educate men on getting early screenings.
Below: Ralph Stowe, brother of The Late James Stowe, & Founder of Jazz for Prostate Cancer Awareness
WUNTU MEDIA: As an African American man, what do you want to say to others who are perhaps afraid or embarrassed to have a prostate screening done?
WENDELL STOWE: Get the screening done, and get it done early.
WUNTU MEDIA: Your organization is having a ‘Holiday Gospel Jazz Buffet Fundraiser’ beginning at 4pm, on Sunday, December 2nd, in Metuchen, NJ. What will attendees experience during the event? What message do you hope it leaves them with?
WENDELL STOWE: Attendees will enjoy the renowned contemporary gospel jazz artist, McLeod, along with the Vineta Lewis Trio, live onstage. In addition, a delicious, all-you-can-eat, three-course buffet, complete with appetizer, main entrée, and dessert, is included. During live music breaks, brief presentations regarding cancer awareness will be provided by the founder, advocate, pianist, and prostate cancer survivor, Ralph Stowe. The price of admission for this event will be $60 per person ($65 after Nov. 24th.) Proceeds from this Jazz4PCA event will go towards providing free prostate cancer screenings to those without or inadequate health insurance. Our sincere hope is that we will continue to drive home the important message of early prostate screenings save lives.