Tag Archives: Music

Writing 101 – Day Thirteen

Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.

Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

As I was explaining before, I lost my harmony but she rescued me and I rediscovered my voice that was always inside. I believe that people that are suppose to enrich your life always manage to gravitate to you when you need them the most. Well, she was that for me. Before we met, I don’t think I took the creative side of me seriously because no one else did.

I remember one night we were returning from a concert relishing in the euphoria we experienced and the song “Adore” by Prince came on the radio came on. She started singing. Her voice gave me pause. I was in awe. The sound that came from within her was amazing. I got caught up and started singing with her. Before I even realized, we were harmonizing. It was an out of body experience. My eyes were closed and I was singing from a place that I never could recall ever being before. My ears registered an unusual sound and I stopped singing. I opened my eyes and she was smiling at me. Prince was no longer flooding the car from the radio. It was quiet. That unusual sound was coming from me. She kept saying, “Why didn’t you tell me you could sing?!” Funny thing is, I never knew I could. At least, not like that. I had sung with other people in elementary school when went Mass. I thought because we were singing together for a purpose it didn’t really matter whether we sounded good or bad. I honestly never thought of myself as a singing. I did what did best. I downplayed it. I figured it was a fluke. She kept telling me I was a singer.

Fast forward to 1991, I purchased a journal and started to take writing seriously after she saw bits and piece of something I’d written. She kept asking me why I was playing around. I never realized that the poems I gave away to people were that good. I just wrote whatever applied to the situation or person. Back then, when I thought of writers or poets, I thought of people whose books you could find in the library or in a bookstore. In my mind, I was not like them. It seemed as though she was making me out to be something I wasn’t. I will never forget what she said to me about it. She told me, “You can pretend all you want. You’re special. You’re not like everybody else. I plan on making it by the time I turn 25 and when I do, I am taking you with me. You’ll see.”

She was serious. Whenever she went to industry related mixers, she tried to get me to go with her. At that time, I was so skeptical of everything and everybody. I never went. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Everybody thinks they’re gonna be famous. Everybody’s a rapper, everybody’s a singer. Everybody thinks they’re a star. I didn’t wanna get caught up in that life. Yet, she was serious. I still chuckle when I recall that one time I should have been ready. She was at some party and she called me saying, “That rapper you like is here.” I thought it was a joke. I told her to quit playing and hung up. She called back and said, “I’m gonna pass the phone so he can say hi”. Yeah right…then a male voice peppered with a New York accent was low and deep in my ear. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t him but I knew it was. I still ask him, “If it’s really you, then spit something right now.” He laughed and told her that I didn’t believe it was him. I could hear her in the background being frustrated and exacerbated with me. He laughed again without any prompting spit 16 anyhow. I was floored. Like whoa! Then he turned the tables on me and said, “Your friend said you write, lemme hear something.” *Crickets* My mouth was dry. No sound came out of my mouth. The one time I could have said anything and didn’t. The rapper was Treach from Naughty by Nature. He was in Los Angeles for an appearance with group on the Arsenio Hall show. I still think about that something. Everything happens for a reason.

She never made it big. My harmony never got to see 25. I made her a promise that I would always take her with me and I would always try to be ready for anything. It is because of her, I was able to rediscover my voice. It is because of her that I have taken my writing further. I used to think that with her gone that I would never be able to write another line. For a while I didn’t write a thing. That all changed when I left Los Angeles. To be continued….

Writing 101 – Day Three

Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

“Alfie” – Stevie Wonder
“Keep Ya Head Up”- Tupac Shakur
“To Be Invisible” – Gladys Knight & the Pips

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I can always recall music playing when I was growing up. My mother played music all the time, whether it was from the radio or from her own record collection. She had vinyl! Very rarely will you find someone, unless they a true music lover, with vinyl. My mother still has them and I play them when I go visit and I cherish them.

The songs I chose really stood out for me when I thought about today’s prompt. It was hard to just choose three but when I thought about the phrase, “the most important in your life”, these three came to mind immediately when I put pen to paper. They represent different phases of my life.

I remember seeing the film, Claudine when I was 8 or 9 years ago. I was immediately captivated by the beautiful woman who played the role of the mother. Even at a young age, I always mesmerized by seeing women who looked like me on the larger than life screens at the drive-in theatre. The song, “To Be Invisible” is tied to Claudine’s youngest son, Francis has a wonderful imagination and is a dreamer. One of the lines goes: “A world that seems not for me so privately /I’ll be invisible/That way I won’t have to explain a thing /If you know what I mean”. I identified with Francis as a child. I was dreamer. I lived through my books. I’d spend my days laying out in my backyard looking at the sky, staring out at nothing in particular. I had the best times in that backyard.

“Keep Ya Head Up” by Tupac Shakur was a thread in a lifeline that keep me going through a difficult time in my life. I had been two years free from an abusive relationship with my daughter’s father. I was raising my then four year old daughter alone and I was afraid I’d fail miserably. I went back to school the year before because I thought it would give me a good foundation. Everything that could have gone wrong did. I was depressed and crying all the time. I lacked a strong support system. Everything I needed done required money I didn’t have. I remember coming home from classes and not knowing exactly how I would buy groceries and the rent was due soon. I was falling apart. I turned on my radio and sat on the bed. I spread my books and notes preparing to attempt to concentrate on homework when the DJ announced “New music from Tupac Shakur, you heard here first….” The beat dropped and by the end of the first verse I felt like I had received a much needed hug. Tupac understood exactly what I was feeling. At that moment Tupac had endeared himself to me and he would always hold a special place in my heart.

I discovered “Alfie” by Stevie Wonder years ago while scrolling through the radio channels looking for some jazz to have in the background while I wrote. As scrolled through, I heard the ending of a song. I was struck by chords I heard. In that moment, I was in awe. I waited thinking the name of the song would be announced. No such luck. The songs kept playing. I stayed on that station trying get the name of the song. I even called the station but they were playing a tape and for some odd reason they didn’t have a playlist. All I had was the feeling that it was Stevie Wonder and it was all instrumental no lyrics. It took me almost a year to track that song down. No one knew the name of the song. This was before apps were invented to listen to snippets of songs. I hit the jackpot finding the song on a greatest hits album in a used records store. I played the song in the store and stood there with my eyes closed and let the music carry me away. My heart was so full, I was bursting. I bought it on the spot. To this day, I have mentioned the song and people have no idea what I am talking about. I still get the same feeling every time I listen to “Alfie”. Thank Mr. Wonder for creating magic!