Saturday, March 7, 2009

I'm Taking Matters Into My Own Hands

Ok it's the weekend and my post is coming later than I would have liked. Well I'm traveling! I'm in Los Angeles seeking out some job leads and I can't get my laptop configured! Ugh!!! The plus is that I'm using the new MacBook Pro of my host's and feeling a dose of consumerist envy right now. My G4 is officially 3 years old and is starting to load pages slowly. I so want a new one now - and it's sooooooo unnecessary!! Anyway we had a bit of an adventure when we got locked out of the house earlier. Luckily this is a great neighborhood with a fire station literally around the corner. So we walked over there and I met Keanu Reeves' doppelganger. I think this man looked even better actually. How cool was it for 4 strapping young men with tools to come to our rescue! They work 3 days on/4 days off so on Thursday we promised them baked goods. They found their way in without having to smash anything. It was a good security drill to discover how easy it could potentially be for someone to break in.  I now have a major firefighter rescue fantasy going on. Unlike the police, fire fighters are always thought of in either benign or glowing terms. They are there to help and they are built! Oh man I'm losing my train of thought now...

So a friend and I went to see Estelle Thursday evening. As a singer I always evaluate how a performer runs their show, taking note of how many musicians they bring with them, song selection, stage outfit, audience banter and other examples. She had 8 musicians backing her. As a new artist touring small venues that's a lot of people to pay. I thought she was immediately and aggressively building her future audience and grabbing loyalty. Usually a new artist tries to cut corners because they're not making any money yet and use 3-4, possibly 5 but definitely not 8.  Three backup singers were working the stage like it was their own show, a dj and instrumentalists rounded things out. She established a great rapport with the audience and invited some on stage for one segment. She specifically thanked people for spending their money in this economy to see her. She also talked about her own struggles trying to earn a living doing music, potentially having a negative attitude and giving up and why she decided to push through all the doubts and uncertainties. Which was why she was there performing for us. She didn't give up. That was the clincher for me. She gets it! She imparted some knowledge and was encouraging to all of us in our endeavors. I am so impressed by her now.

Which brings me back to this. I can pinpoint times where I've fallen into a rut but didn't think I could change my circumstances. Years could go by if you aren't careful. Perhaps it's about one's dating life or career trajectory or a decision about what school to attend. Sometimes the timing will never be convenient or easy for making these types of decisions. Times are tough right now but I think NOW is the time for as many of us to push through despite that. We can be the "exception". We can draw good things, generate and seize opportunities. There's nothing to lose from trying. Whatever you are trying to accomplish right now, even if you have to start from scratch, even if you are doing things on a wing and a prayer be in it to win it.

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Unknown said...

where should i start? been there BIG time.... but what kept me going is the story many of my elders told me. How some came to this country with $10 to their name.

I had one elder tell me they came to this country with close to $18 in CHANGE !

I have friends who are spoken word artists (Taalam Acey, QUeen Sheba, etc.) who have spent nights in bus stops or slept on the street to make it to another venue. I know artists who came to a city broke with just CDs to pay for their next meal.

those stories really made me feel like I was being a baby.

in the end, all we got is each other. word

YOU will succeed since you probably have much more intelligence, resources, and folks than our folks did back in the day.

Renee said...

My philosophy is we need to play the game like we are in it to win it. I think so often we focus on the things we cannot do we do not realize the things we can do. We all each of us in our own way face hard times but if we give up, what is certain is that we will never have good times. I think about the struggles of my grandparents often. They had 17 children to feed and raise and today all of them are either professionals or own their own businesses. There were times when a single can of corn beef had to be split up and stretched to feed the family. When I think of all that they accomplished I know that I can defeat whatever comes my way. We can learn so much from our ancestors and their achievements. Sometimes looking backward can be a path to moving forwards. A quote stood out to me from The State of Black Union, "We are the descendants of those that refused to die", and I firmly believe that we should all remember that.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Omi: I would've done what your artists friends did when I was younger. Now I have certain creature comforts and would be too worried, but I can certainly appreciate the courage it takes to do that.

Renee: Yes I've adopted your mantra, "Be In It To Win It" and it's a great way to keep focused moment by moment. I also remember that quote about those descendants. I think it was one of the male panelists that said it. I'll have to do a search.