I laid naked to possibilities of being a superstar when we first met. 28 years old, just dropped from LaFace Records with no idea what the heck I was gonna do. I was ankle deep into my Saturn Return and in mad conflict with my talents, my voice, my presence, my responsibility to joy. Almost like magic, you squeezed into my veil of uncertainty with a poignant tale of feminine redemption – “ 4 Women “. I perked with a sense of sudden inclusion. Was I…
Aunt Sarah – a bitter, battered treat!?
Safronia – a delusional piece of history by no fault of her own!?
Sweet Thing – a vulnerable, misunderstood healer?!
Peaches – a nurturing representation of exhaustion?!
I think, I was….NINA!
Folded in insecurities and premature influence. I was loveless and love drenched. I found a slight glimpse of my reflection in she. No, I’m not a classically trained pianist. Nor am I a political advocate. I was a lil’ sad with pain to disperse. But what I was most, was a Black woman with a need to be free. Free to be myself in a world (an industry) that hooked shackles before they knew your name.
Friday, July 5, 2013, I believe I came full circle. I approached a crowd of 4000+, downtown Los Angeles, with five female singing sensations who had my back ( Joi Gilliam, Jimetta Rose, Waberi, Georgia Ann Muldrow and sweet Patrice ); a male elder vocalist ( Dwight Treble); some amazing musicians under the direction of Dexter Story; And he never ending guidance of my ancestors hovering over. I was scared, excited, unsure, yet willing to put my face on the line for a stranger who molded my insides from the moment we met. In my five second walk to the center mic stand for my first solo of the night, I recalled the gutter in HER voice, the unapologetic stare, the slight depressive descend from the corner of her lips reminding me, it’s now MY responsibility.
On the first line of Nina’s song, “Be my husband man, I’ll be your wife”…I fell in love all over again. I knew that desperation she spoke of and was swooped, with no hesitation, by her undoubting conviction to song. I saw HER! Dance like a memory between two buildings that stood high on Grand St between 3rd and 4th saying…
“YES…my darling…now continue the stories and the need to be vulnerable in the way that only YOU can deliver. Be vulnerable in my songs….your songs…THAT IS POWER!”
In that moment all fear disappeared in the next up swing of a breeze. The entire production was lifted and Nina became the celebration. Our voices blew past ego and accepted grace. Nina remained on the E flat of that notion and smiled…we were all soooooo FREE!
Thank you Ms Nina!