i've come such a long way to get to where i am now. it seems so random at first glance but every haphazard thing has happened for a very specific reason. all those solo shows i wrote and performed with so much joy and ease as i worked one crummy corporate day job after another. singing with big bands. my texas years. my grandma says i would make up stories and act them out all over the place when i was no taller than her knee -- and here i am, making up stories and acting them out all over the place. have i really come all the way back around to where i was when i started? or did i ever really get up and go? maybe everything shifted and moved around me and i'm the same as i ever was, when i was three or four or so. i can't tell from here.
sometimes the curtain is pulled back and i get to see a little more of the bigger picture than i thought i would. that's what happened last week during the performance residency at the apollo theater.
there was a moment when i literally lived through the rush and flow of my dreams coming true. for once, it wasn't something that i realized later in a random meditative pause or an epiphany that hit me in the head like a hard pillow, or floated over my head like an imaginary light bulb, glowing with the promise of a good idea. because that's what usually happens. usually everything zooms by, like a fast train. it's over and i'm overwhelmed and i don't know what happened. but not this time. this time was fast and slow, like peckinpah. i could feel it all rip right through me and hit me before i hit the ground running and falling all at once. to be in midair and to sing and to feel and to fall and to rise and to fall again. to stay on the ground and never touch the ground at all. it stayed that way. i think everybody got lifted.
i'm so happy, so relieved, so grateful. really elated that everyone embraced this new idea and wanted more. and i feel justified. i'm making the art that i want to see in the world -- art that empowers black women, employs black people and uplifts the race.
so now what.
now the world rushes in. gigs and money, off and on and on and on. dental work and oral surgery and pain most unholy and drugs drugs drugs -- thank you Jesus for the drugs. on camera work. guitar practice. voice lessons. eating clean. running in the morning to wake my body up. boxing in the evening to wear myself out. the steam room, the sauna. losing enough weight to get back into not some but all of my summer clothes. copy editing from my couch, in my underwear. wearing short wigs to hide my whoa, it's getting longer! beautiful natural hair. writing and rewriting, over and over again. mental health days and beauty days and errand days and harlem nights. soaking endlessly at spa castle. finishing my album. graduate school at nyu/tisch. drunken tea parties and bar hopping uptown. long hangs with black girls who really know what's up. making art with francesca harper. live shows and burlesque and dim sum, oh my!
and as the world turns, i will work on the billie holiday project all over again and wait for another break in the ice. because a bigger part of what it means to make art is to wait. it's what i do while i wait that really matters.