Legacy Live Session; Debut Single

On Friday June 29, I had my first ever headline show. I still can’t believe how surreal it felt to be on stage and feel so at home.

I’ll be releasing my first single called FOREVER in a few days and to commemorate that occasion, my team and I wanted a few key people and dear friends to hear it first. So, we organized a jam session, with a live band. I performed covers of popular songs while our guests snacked on chips and sodas and cheered us on.

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I’m a generous person, so I chose not to hog the stage. My good friend Jason Nkwain, poet and spoken word artist, took the stage to perform some of his works like Have You Ever Seen An African Dance.

T. Nayah; fellow singer/songwriter, blessed our audiences with a powerful rendition of Natural Woman (Aretha Franklin) among other songs.

We solicited the help of a world class band. For their simple love for music, they took on the challenge of learning the songs in a matter of days. Boy oh boy, did they deliver;

JaJa a Congolese acoustic guitarist played with the soul of an African musician, weaving such organic afro rhythms into the music, and everyone was left in awe of his talent.

That night, Kinobe assumed the role of bass guitarist, one of the many instruments he has mastered. Not only did he play to impress, he also brought this band together for the occasion.

Kinobe didn’t come alone. His brother Richard played the the acoustic drums that night and did so with such rhythmic beauty.

Julian was the star instrumentalist of the night, with his magical fingers on the keyboard. He was as versatile as every musician wants their pianist to be, weaving seamlessly from afro sounds to more western styles.

The drums were manned by a young drummer named Ogmend, who delivered a stellar performance after only a few hours of rehearsal, as he was a last minute addition to the band.

This group of amazing musicians did such a great job that some of our guests were moved take the stage themselves for some freestyle tunes.

Everyone loved it. It was a crowd of under 30 people and yet, the room felt electric. The new single will be released on July 29 2018, exactly 1 month after this show. If that night is anything to go by, then the reception of this single will be just as inspiring.

 

 

Halfway Progress Check

We’re half way through 2018 already! #timeflieswhenyourehavingfun

Here are 7 things I’ve learned so far;

  1. Set Goals.. I know this is cliché but for me, it’s been a slow realization. I used to let the chips fall where they may, go with the flow. Nope, that doesn’t work. Make a list, check off accomplishments one by one. It’s not only a great motivation, but also very satisfying.

  2. Be intentional.. Be it professionally, personally, with friends or family, be intentional about what you do. Make an effort where neccessary and let go of things or people who do not fit into your life. There’s peace waiting on the other side.

  3. Save money.. Well, I’m just really bad at this but I’m learning. Wealth is built they say.

  4. It’s not that serious.. I look a few years back and I laugh hysterically at the “worries” that kept me up at night. It really isn’t that serious and even if it is, “this too shall pass”. So live with hope for tomorrow’s sunrise.

  5. Do things that bring you joy.. This one’s easy to say but hard to do, yet absolutely critical to a healthy state of mind. Find time to invest in your own happiness. You’ll be glad you did.

  6. Be patient.. I’m prone (as I’m sure many of us are) to comparing our growth and success with others. This is destructive because it oftentimes is demoralizing. Appreciate your process and know that you shine just as brightly, in your own right.

  7. You’re not in control.. As much as we want to plan and orchestrate and perfect our lives, we don’t own our lives. God does. So follow His lead, and let Him work for your good.

Appropriation or Appreciation?

I’m a black immigrant African woman living the United States. Thus, I fall in the minority group, which also means I claim a culture that is unique and celebrated across the globe. When people of different cultural backgrounds adopt styles (usually outward expressions through fashion) original to my culture, it usually sparks discussions on the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation. While appreciation suggests a genuine respect for the borrowed traits of the minority culture, accusations of appropriation surface when members of said minority perceive that such traits are unjustly presented as a staple of the dominant culture, or in disrespectful disregard of its origins.

There have been countless instances of white celebrities sporting hairstyles or fashion choices generally known to be staples of African culture. A recent example is Kim Kardashian’s “Bo Derek” braids situation. Other examples include Kylie Jenner’s lip augmentation frenzy, amid countless other instances. And it’s not just with African culture. The Asian prom dress on a white girl also springs to mind.

Those who argue appropriation are usually of the minority group, and argue that adopting these cultural traits constitutes a blatant disregard and/or disrespect for their origins. Others say there is usually no credit given to the pioneers of such styles, or like in the case of “Bo Derek” braids, credit is given where it isn’t due.

People copy what celebrities do. As such, when celebrities make such fashion choices knowingly or unknowingly presenting them as original creations, trend followers copy theses choices. As a result  pop culture associates these trends with the celebrities who made them popular, instead of their cultures of origin, thus shifting the focus once again, a way from the minority group. Case in point; it is widely presumed that the Kardashians “started” the big  booty and big lips trend. However, both those physical traits are staple features of African women’s natural physiques, traits which were ridiculed in the past.

While many are staunch critics of cultural appropriation, there are others who see it the other way. Personally, I don’t imagine that when Katy Perry donned her Asian geisha attire at the 2013 American Music Awards, she was thinking “I hope I piss off all the Asians”. I also don’t think Beyoncé hoped to alienate her Indian fanbase with her Coldplay collaboration.  In an article for Odyssey, Kiana Cozier states; “while there needs to be an intimate and exclusive space within cultures, there must also be a warm and welcoming space for others to learn about other cultures.”

The point is this; know the obvious cultural no-nos; ie blackface, or “acting like” a culture, Cozier says. But also know when such representations are harmless. This then begs the question, has popular society become too sensitive? In my book, we have with regards to this particular issue. As long as credit is given where it’s due and people aren’t ignorant about the fashion choices they make, I see no issue with it. Frankly, I’m proud, because in the case of African adaptations, I’d like to see the world adopt African culture in a genuine way.

There’s no clear demarcation. Where do you draw the line? For this reason,  each individual is entitled to their reactions of acclamation or dismay when such things happen. There’s no right or wrong answer.

We Should All Be Like Children

Have you been around a child? They are the freest creatures. They laugh aloud, cry aloud, think aloud, and are unafraid of their emotions. Their friends are spoons, the sofa, mommy’s high heels, daddy’s hat, or anything in their immediate vicinity that calls to them. They play with people/things everyone can see, as well as those no one can see. They spill things and wallow in the mess because it feels good. Children live in the present, they are creative, naive, innocent, and full of life and wonder. We should all be like children.

Why you ask? Consider this; adults worry all the time, mainly about things they cannot control. It’s almost pre-requisite to being a grown-up. They care about how others perceive them, which often influences their actions and reactions. They typically befriend people who hold the same values. They imprison their creativity and lock away their dreams because they live by the “responsible” taxpaying, bill-paying standards of societal acceptance. As a result, only 30 percent of the world reported a 6 or higher on a happiness scale from 0 to 10, according to the 2017 World Happiness Report.

That said, what must adults do? We should all be like children. Rich in wonder, doe-eyed at the world, and never afraid to feel. We should never stop inquiring, trying, imagining, trusting, and believing in the impossible. Imagine if we combine our advanced intellectual comprehension .

This is not a magic solution to world unhappiness, seeing as circumstances are usually more complex than flipping a switch. It is insensitive to trivialize grave world issues that cause pain and sadness in people’s lives. What this write-up hopes to establish is that if people saw life with a child’s eyes, living under less than ideal situations – often beyond our limitations – could become less burdensome. Lisa Rosas writes; “If we can learn to let go and not want to control all aspects in life, we can then feel freer.”

So, watch children’s cartoons, and read children’s books. Share, trust, forgive, and love wholly. Most importantly live in the moment. Growing old is inevitable, but growing up is a choice.

 

Greatness Unmasked

A faint glimmer of greatness. So faint it almost isn’t there. In fact, most days the rough around it masks it’s magnificence.

This particular day, I – frustrated, toss my hoe to the side, arch my back for relief, and curse every drop of sweat on my furrowed brow. “What do I plough so hard for? Is this hustle worth it?”

You can only find what you seek if you never stop seeking. You can only get where you’re going if you never stop moving.

I remember the one for whose glory I was created to live. I choose greatness, even if all I see is a faint glimmer.

This particular day, I – encouraged, pick up my hoe, smile with purpose and wipe with pride, the sweat on my furrowed brow. “I plough because I must fully unmask my magnificence. It must shine for the glory of He who made me.”

Age-ing

via Daily Prompt: Age

I’m almost 26. These days, I can’t think that without cringing. I’m nervous. When did I get so ‘old’?

Saying this makes me wonder what people twice my age or older feel.

 

I think our 20s are the best years. I’m not saying this because I am in my 20s. I’m saying this because they are our safest yet most daring years, when we find and lose ourselves in the world, when as “adults”, we can run home to mom and dad if adult-ing gets too hard. This is the time when – if we’re lucky, we figure out who we really are.

I miss the simpler times, when  my 5-year-old self wanted to be anyone and anything when I grew up. At 25, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and some would argue I already am a grown up.

That’s scary!

Age – they say, comes with wisdom. Why then, do I cringe at the thought of adding more experience to my life resume?

Because I’m human.

I – like most, wish I could skip the process and get to the wise old lady. That way, I’d already know if the choices I make today are the right ones. If only we watch a movie of our journey to old age.

Smh.

 

Self Love And Morality

These days, all young people want is to love themselves beyond societal pressures. I cannot count how many times I’ve heard a millennial say; “I’m empowered, I know what I want, I know who I am.” etc. We’re on social media wearing what we want, saying what we want, and loving who we want (including ourselves – if you know what I mean).

I’m not entirely adverse to these concepts. I do think that to some extent, we should all embrace ourselves and live fulfilling lives, reaching our full potential for success and happiness. We shouldn’t be constrained by the pressures of societal correctness. Embracing this ideology has given our generation a sense of self confidence that allows us to chase our dreams, take more risks and be our best selves.

Here’s where I start to question everything; most of the time, these concepts of self love and acceptance tend to deconstruct actions that were once taboos of societal morality, and turn them into acceptable or even normal behavior. The idea that we can commit taboos without feeling the guilt associated with our actions is what appeals to us young folk. We masturbate, dress suggestively, get high and ‘happy’, and we take pride in all of this – it’s who we are, and we’re convinced of it.

So, have we thrown in the towel on moral virtue? Or are we simply embracing our true human nature. Are we just being immoral, or is there even a standard of morality? Who made the rules anyway?

As a practicing Christian (i try), I know who made the rules and I know who I am. My identity is not defined by anyone but God. My self love comes from being secure in knowing that I do not have to embrace the vices that have now become the pillars of contemporary empowerment and self acceptance. My self love comes from knowing that I am a child of the Creator.

What is your standard of self love?