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Washington Insider Escapes Politics With Gospel And Eminem



Now we turn to a segment we call In Your Ear. Sometimes, after we've asked our guest about their work, we ask them about the music they listen to while they relax or play. Today, we hear from Ambassador Ron Kirk. He recently stepped down as United States Trade representative. But we caught up with him shortly before he left his post, and here's what he had to say about the music that kept him moving.

RON KIRK: Right now on now I'm enjoying "Once In A Lifetime" by Smokie Norful.


SMOKIE NORFUL: (Singing) As a little boy I used to dream of the big stage, couldn't wait to see my name in lights.

KIRK: I really think that he's one of the more gifted vocalists of our time. Powerful voice.


NORFUL: (Singing) The closer I'd get, the more distant I'd feel. The more I thought I had, the less it all seemed real. Suddenly I found, the only thing for me that counts. And I can't imagine my life without you.

KIRK: I mean the basic lyrics about it, how at one point in his life all he wanted to do was be famous, to be well known, you know, to be popular, to be wealthy. And then, coming to a realization that having peace and joy in your own life, some relationship with a higher being can give you most of what you wished for.


NORFUL: (Singing) And once in a lifetime, you find joy you can't replace. I used to think that it was the trophies on my wall. Thought if I won then I'd...


EMINEM: Look...

KIRK: My kids make fun of me because I don't remember the words to anything and I love to sing. I get everything wrong. Growing up, they loved no more than listening to my tortured version of Eminem's, you know, you got a move it, you lose it, you never let it go. You know, you only get one shot to rock or something. But I like the song. I just don't bother with the lyrics.


EMINEM: (Rapping) You better lose yourself in the music. The moment, you own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo. You better lose yourself in the music. The moment, you own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo. You better...

(Rapping) His soul's escaping, through this hole that is gaping. This world is mine for the taking, make me king...


JEKALYN CARR: An olive has to go through three stages for its oil to run. It has to go through the shaking, the beating...

KIRK: I have to start every day with gospel. It just gets me going. It gets me inspired and it prepares me, particularly in an environment like Washington that can be so toxic. It allows me to approach every day that things are going to come, but things always come. And you know what, I got through it yesterday. I'll get through today with the proper frame of mind. And just I have my own little praise party every morning while I'm getting ready and that way I can walk in here and hopefully have the right light, the right energy to inspire everybody else to go out and do the work we have to do.


: (Singing) If it had not been for the pressing, I wouldn't be able to walk into my destiny...

MARTIN: That last song is "Greater Is Coming," by Jekalyn Carr. And that was Ambassador Ron Kirk. To hear my earlier conversation with him, go to NPR.org/TELL ME MORE. And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and you've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.


: (Singing) I trust in the Lord. I trust in you Lord. You're preparing me for splendor. Thank you for the shaking. Thank you for the beating. Thank you for my pressure because I know that greater is coming. My greater is coming. You're pulling me through. He's preparing me for greater, offer greater. My greater is already here. My greater is already here. I'm walking into a new season. Oh, it's a new season. Oh, deliverance is here. Oh, it's already here. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Ooh, yeah. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.