Oh, Happy 30th Anniversary to Ahmal M’jomo Jamaael’s Unforgettable Falsetto

J. Eik Diggs
4 min readMar 24, 2023

Do you ever notice how when you watch movies that you saw for the first time as a kid, you’ll have similar emotional reactions as you did then?

For example, I still for the life of me cannot watch the scene where Sassy the cat gets swept down the river in Homeward Bound. And believe me, I’ve tried. No matter how committed I am to watching the scene, I will subconsciously find a way to distract myself to avoid seeing that snarky yet loveable cat get carried down the river and hurled over that raging waterfall. It’s still just too much.

Similarly, I was six years old when I caught my first glimpse of the scene where Pennywise emerges from the sewer in IT. For some reason, I associated that sewer with the deck at my childhood house, so in my mind, when that child-eating clown came for me, it would surely emerge from underneath the deck instead of from the sewer. To this day, I still cannot be on or near anyone’s deck without considering that this might actually happen.

These, of course, are examples of movie scenes that provoke emotional regression without my approval.

There is one, however, that is always welcome to make me feel like a kid again. When Wesley Glen James aka Ahmal M’jomo Jamaael aka “he who is spirited” hits that stunning high E flat in Sister Act 2 (one of the hardest notes to nail as a singer) during his music class’s rendition of “Oh Happy Day” at St. Francis Academy’s school assembly in 1993, I get the chills every time. I remember watching the scene with bated breath as a kid and then being brought to my feet upon hearing #thefalsettoheardaroundtheworld. And let me tell ya, not much has changed.

You remember Ahmal. He’s the Kufi hat-wearing resident Afrocentrist of Sister Mary Clarence’s (aka Ms. Deloris Van Cartier) music class who takes his Black power proselytizing just a bit further than the rest of the class can stomach. He has great singing talent but lacks the confidence to showcase it. That is until he works one-on-one with Sister Mary Clarence and she has the genius idea of using his obsession with Shaka Zulu to teach him how to tap into the power of his voice. Who would have thought that this young man’s affinity for pre-colonial African history would help him realize…