When I was a senior in high school my favorite class was World Geography. It was a freshman level class but I’d failed it in 9th grade for never doing my homework which meant I had to take it again to graduate. The few years difference made all the world. Literally. I’m not sure if it was because I was older than everyone else and didn’t have close friends to distract me, or it was because I was so close to graduating and could hear the world wolf-whistling through the window that I excelled in the course. From memorizing state and country capitols to drawing political maps, I excelled and became a fan of the world at large. Besides wanting to sing, I added the possibility of being a tourist into the specifics of the dream.
There’s many things about my childhood that prepared me well in becoming who I am today:
Being Born. From the start I made an entrance to a small crowd of onlookers, thus preparing me for a life in the spotlight.
When I was around 3 or 4 I gazed out the window one night, looking up from my bed through the blinds where I could see a portion of the sky. With childlike curiosity I commanded the sky to blink and it did. Blink I said. And without missing a beat the sky flashed a bright light as if a small star had exploded and faded out quickly. It scared the shit out of me. Did I have that much power or was something out there so powerful that it heard me. Whatever it was I started sleeping under my parents’ bed after that. This was my introduction to the supernatural and I’ve been cosmic ever since.
Then, thanks to my parents’ divorce, I’ve been living out of a suitcase since I was 5. To survive life on the road, one must master the art of packing.
My dad and step dad both drove a van. Tour life would not be possible without at least 2 van rides a day.
My sister and her friends used to pick on me a lot. At least, I thought they did. So did this guy down the street. And his cousins. Yet because all these people lived on my block, I still HAD to play with them. Regardless, it made me pine for the road at an early age as I’d practiced running away a few times but never got past the edge of my neighborhood. I learned at a young age to love and accept judgment and criticism; a necessity for any artist.
Around 7 I was introduced to the School of Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC.) At that time the school existed only in church basements around our city, but 20 some years later it stands on it’s own with hundreds of students, programs and classes for the performing mind; teaching kids everything about life on and off stage, from singing, dancing, and acting to writing and lighting. I’m playing a concert on their behalf at the end of the December to celebrate their 30 years in action.
At 15 I started keeping a journal. It must’ve been a teacher who asked me to do it. Or a really loud voice in my head. Through writing I tapped into that voice and made a new friend. And since then, that voice & I have been making up all kinds of shit which is another requirement in the field of art.
Throughout high school our chorus department would take us on amazing trips. From New Orleans to New York we got to get out and experience how music could literally take us places. I saved all the hotel keys from those years. I’m not sure why. I guess I always felt I had places I could go back and visit. Like secret homes or hideaways. Since then I’ve saved every hotel key. Every single one. And again, I’m not sure why. I have thousands now. Someday I’ll build my own hotel out of recycled plastic hotel keys.
I’m sure I could think of many more things about my past that have contributed to my present, but a new day is dawning here in New York and I’m anxious to get out there. Today I’m planning to visit some museums and catch a Broadway show. Tourism 101.
I’ll leave you with this; one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen on the road. Ever. Enjoy.