Sitting at a cafe in Mexico during my annual Winter trip to the tropics
Album art used for the Live at the House of Butter album, collage by poet Taylor Johnson
In 2018, I started the year performing the intention that I had for my life: to sing music- my music- in front of people and behind a microphone, with all my nuances and joy in making music, live. I still have this intention. It still is a passion of mine. It’s one of the most grounding and true things in my life to share in, shape, adapt, and grow. 19 January 2018, I recorded my live performance at the House of Butter. February 2018, I got sick with a bronchial infection that didn’t leave my body for a year. I spent rounds of weeks in that year bedridden and avoiding speaking and social interactions because it took too much energy out of me. And yes, singing too. I was devastated. My home was shaking all around me and with me in it. I couldn’t keep working, I couldn’t keep gigging, I couldn’t keep plans. Everything turned over, seemingly overnight.
But that’s when I realized a dream of land-based living, being closer to Nature and my own natural rhythms. It’s been almost 5 years since moving into the Blue Ridge Mountains (part-time) outside of DC. I had to leave my friends and family, a job I was really proud of, a social network I was just a few years into building, and yeah, the home city I’d fought to stay in during gentrification. None of it could stand up against my need to be healthy. I needed trees, clean earth and air, good water, space, silence, darkness, outside life.
A close friend predicted that I’d take three years to have an artistic glow/blow up. That was in 2017. They may have been right were it not for the unforeseeable stroke of illness. Nothing in me is mad about it though. I learned humility in that time, slowing way down, grieving a lot (recent losses, childhood shit, you know the list), and getting back to my indigenous values. Now, as I pick up things where I left off- recording a full-length studio album- I’m another person. I listen back to the live recording from 2018 and, although this past woman’s beautiful voice inspires me, I know she ain’t the same woman coming out of me today. Vocally, emotionally, personally, professionally, and physically, I am, of course, wiser. And I value it.
Some things cannot be taught; they must be experienced. Letting go is learned. Confidence is earned. Depth, soul, clarity comes with sacrifice. I’ve cried a lot of tears, made myself sick over the deaths of both my matriarchs, my father and my uncle, working my body to dis-ease for other people to gain their dreams. Giving is not my issue. It’s reciprocity that I had to learn: how to keep/make/receive some energy for me to live well on. And this is how I reconcile all the energies that led me to and through my biggest learning experiences. Thank you, thank all of you, for being the medicine that I needed when I needed it most, even if I fought receiving it.
Love hangs in this kind of prayer. The spirit of gratitude lives in spite of… It is joyful in tears and laughing in rage. True laughter too, no fake smiles. I’m grateful to Live! I could’ve not been. I know who death is.
Here’s to a beautiful year, 6 years, 15-20 years, 60 years, life! We have so much promise in this Well of creation that each of us are. We’re ma’atgical. With this mind in this body, I can create any of the infinite number of possibilities that grow in the galaxies. I have all of Time memorialized in my blood. My body speaks bone, water, earth, air, and fire. I know how to do this. It is my pleasure to gain alongside you.