SupaStars, if you missed my interview on #TNM Radio with the @FoMerlot Team on January 21, 2014, you can catch it right here! Enjoy!
It's a new year
Now, more than ever, I live by the mantra: “Believe in myself. Believe in my vision.” Let my gut, my instinct, my inner god-self, my inner voice, and my divine spirit guide me on my journey.
And with regard to the release of my first single Dangerous, I have to listen to my gut. I have to be true to myself. I feel that the promotional images and text I have chosen to represent Dangerous and the coming out of Vixen Noir as a music recording artist, singer and songwriter are going in the right direction, for me. They may not be "THE" direction, but it feels good to me at this time and juncture. I get that orgasmic feeling downstairs. I get chills in my body. My mouth waters. My heart palpitates. And I feel like, "Yeah". If I do what somebody else wants me to do, it's not going to be a true representation of my vision, of my passion. I went over and over and over the first photo shoot I did. It's really cool and badass, but I don't think it captured fully what Vixen Noir and Dangerous are about. I got an opportunity to do a second photo shoot. I thought about it. I planned it. I prayed and meditated on it. I really dove into what “Dangerous” means for me. I really went for it. I was quite pleased with the outcome.
“What is Dangerous for me?” you might ask. The questions for me more so are, “What is a Dangerous woman? Who are Dangerous women?”
Dangerous women are women who stand in their power. Dangerous women are women who know their power. And they don't let anybody take their power from them. Who have conviction in who they are. They are committed to their tasks, their goals, their mission in life, their purpose. They know what their purpose is and they follow it to the T! They are not easily knocked off course. Dangerous women are leaders, followers, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, teachers, doctors, lawyers, artists, scientists, poetesses, sex workers, CEOs, cheerleaders, judges, wives, stay-at-home moms, dancers, singers, athletes, security guards, activists… Dangerous women are everybody. We are everybody. We are trailblazers. We are divine beings.
This is what dangerous means to me. What is dangerous for you? When you think dangerous, when you think dangerous women, what do you think? The dictionary definition of dangerous is: able or likely to inflict injury or harm. In my definition, I think dangerous is about being able to kick someone’s ass with my fierceness, my presence, my integrity, my power. I think dangerous is being able to incite change in people for the better. I think being dangerous means to courageously empower women to be their best and most powerful selves and to help motivate them to follow their true life’s path.
One of my favorite “dangerous” women is the one and only Nina Simone. I know you may have heard me say it 1000 times, but I love her, I idolize her. She is the first biggest inspiration for me musically in regard to my voice, delivery, style, poise, and persona. Dangerous BADASS, she was!!! Fierce musician, fierce activist, fierce Black woman! Whew, goddamn!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUcXI2BIUOQ And to think, while writing and researching for this blog post, I discovered that another artist I love, Meshell Ndegeocello, just released a CD on Oct 9, 2012 dedicated to Nina Simone!!!
WTF??? I had no idea Meshell had mad love for Nina too! You know I gotta check that shit out! God, I hope it’s good. It contains 14 of Nina’s best songs performed by Meshell with a host of guest artists including Sinead O’Connor and Toshi Reagon. I’m excited!!! (tears of joy flow) Read more about it here: http://www.innocentwords.com/tabid/807/itemid/4807/Meshell-Ndegeocello-Releases-Pour-Une-me-Souvera.aspx
So… Vixen Noir is Dangerous! I am not here to be dictated to and to be told what to do or to be anybody’s rag doll or door mat. But… Dangerous women are also vulnerable. There is so much strength in vulnerability. The key is that Dangerous women know that there is strength in their vulnerability. It’s fucking crazy. I experience it often at my job. If I’m feeling really in my power, strong, confident, it works, but I think it can also be intimidating and cause customers to not want to interact with me as much. But when I’m vulnerable for whatever reason, OMG, customer interaction increases by 50% or more. What I find is that in these interactions, I have more power to motivate, shift consciousness, connect with people’s souls. We vibe together, dance together, create together.
My girl Nina Simone refused to conform to the music industry’s standards and expectations. She refused to be categorized as one specific genre of music. She stood firm in her conviction as an artist and civil rights activist. I am reminded that I must stay true to me and my vision no matter what. And that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. Now that’s DANGEROUS!!!
Yeah, I wanna be a SupaStah. Yeah, I wanna be famous. Yeah, I wanna have a life with a substantial income, my dream home, to be able to really take good care of myself, my family and to do the philanthropic things I wanna do. Yeah! But, at what cost?!?! Am I somehow different from Michael, Amy and Whitney that I can withstand the pressures of being a SupaStah? I mean I’ve been a local, national and international celebrity on a community level. But, I don’t see it measuring up to the pressures that they had to withstand. Really, I have no idea what it must be like because Artists don’t talk about it! What I get is that they are not allowed to talk about it because it would tarnish their superstar status thus the industry’s ability to make as much money as possible off of them. It’s like... for someone to sit down at an interview and say, “I had a breakdown last night and I drank a whole bottle of tequila because I couldn’t stand the pressure and then I threw up and ran to my mother and cried in her arms. Then I had to commit myself to a mental hospital because I was afraid I was gonna kill myself…” is a NO-NO!!! We don’t hear about the ugly side of Superstardom. So we see Artists living what appears to be a glamorous life and we want it! But, we don’t see how much hard, hard work goes into it. We just don’t get it! We don’t get what it takes to be a Superstar!
And so, parents push their kids into it. The kids, themselves, want it. They pursue it and a lucky few make it! Then, they have to deal with the pressures of their career. I don’t know what they all are, but I can imagine long work hours to develop their brand, vocal coaching, writing, studio time, rehearsals, music videos, performances, touring, interviews, special appearances, living up to the demands of their record label and fans, and more! In order to meet these demands, and at times to soothe them, some turn to cigarettes, drugs and partying, developing addictions. Some develop eating disorders and other issues.
I betcha any amount of money Adele was scared shitless that her voice was about to be taken away from her! That god-given gift she has to reach and touch people on such a deep emotional level. But then and again, she smoked like 25 cigs a day and wanted to continue. She was in denial about her addiction and how smoking could hurt her instrument. "Smoking is not the reason I got laryngitis – it was because I was talking too much," she told The Sun. "I damage my voice offstage, not onstage. Onstage I am fine as apparently I am technically great, but when I talk I damage my voice big time. I have got screwed into giving up smoking." For Adele, "If I wasn't a singer I still would be smoking 25 a day. Smoking is my favourite thing to do in the world, I am gutted I have had to give up." Cigarettes came first! Sad! She’s damn lucky, the surgery she had saved her golden folds! Despite her neglect and her addiction, she’s been given a second chance. Adele, don’t screw it up love! Take care of yourself, honor your gift mama and avoid taking the road of self-destruction!
Photo by: Myles Boisen
As for me, hell I’m asking for SupaStahdom! It’s my childhood dream! I want it, but I’m scared like a motherfucker! I’m like what the fuck is out there? What monsters await me? And what do I need to do to prepare myself, because for me there is no turning back! I want to reach the masses. I want to reach women all over the world with positive messages that reaffirm their beauty and power as they are. I want to help women stand tall and live their lives true to their deepest passions.
With that said, it’s vital for me to live by my own rules and keep several things intact including:
• A strong circle/community of friends and supporters
• My family; always letting them know what’s going on with me.
• Stop trying to do it alone! Ask for help, ask for the support that I need.
• Continue my ritual of meditation, journaling, prayer, yoga, Pilates, eating healthy, getting rest, preventative healthcare & natural medicine and vitamins.
• Continue not to drink, smoke or use drugs.
• Dancing to house music, taking dance classes.
• Being PRESENT, living life in the moment.
• Not letting the demons: resistance, ego, pain-body, drama, bullshit, come in and take over my life, because all of those things mean self-destruction, self-sabotage, hurting myself and others.
• Do my best not to gossip, complain, criticize, blame, nor judge myself or others.
• Continue to be the sexy, sexual, erotic, creative, innovative, badass, in-your-face, raw, Artist and talent I know myself to be.
• Keep my integrity in place.
• Stay true to my deepest beautiful passions.
Shit! If there has to be a dependency on something to make it all feel alright, to have peace, to medicate the ills and the pains that come with the pressures of being a SupaStah, then I choose all of the above as my drugs and habits of choice.
Grace Jones has been one of my inspirations for years!!! The other day, I just sat for hours and watched some of her videos on Youtube. I was totally blown away by this DIVA. Two of my favorites that I watched, both from Night of the Proms 2010 - Belgium/Netherlands were Libertango, where she dances with a mannequin of her likeness the whole song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMCKj6LDZ2U and Slave to the Rhythm, where she hoola hoops the whole song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kSZVtLFygs. And her goddamn body looks great! For crying out loud, she is in her 60’s HELLO! I love that she is still doing her thang. She’s had a revival baby, tearing up stages all over the world. She is fierce. She is flawless! She is a seasoned artist, a vet still going strong! It gives me hope and drives my ambition to be the SUPERSTAR I know the Creator put me on this earth to be! Especially with getting started so late in my life with singing and songwriting, but hey, I’m doing and I have no plans of stopping! I’ll be up there on that stage in my 60’s too!
I admit, I was studying her also because I wanted to perform one of her songs, Libertango (I’ve Seen That Face Before) not only at a gig I had with Red Hots Burlesque on Feb 24, 2012, but just for the sake of it. To have the joy of singing those lyrics and creating to that music! It’s my favorite song by her. I studied, I practiced, I got tutored for the French verse in the song. I designed my make-up, the costume, my hair, the overall look! I put in the time and energy to ensure a HOT performance for all to behold. I wanted to do her proud and you know what?! I was damn pleased with the outcome. Of course I was nervous and could hear my heart pounding in my head, but this time I didn’t let my nerves get the best of me, which was a hell of an improvement for me! You see, one of my goals for 2012 is to perform as a singing performance artiste extraordinaire at least 1 to 4 times a month. I want to build my confidence as a singer and get my ass on stage and do it and do it and DO IT! This is the only way I’m going to be able to fuse the fierce performance presence I have developed over the years with my voice, my singing and my developing SOUND/STYLE!
So pleased with my make-up and hair, I took some post-show bathroom self-portraits after I got home!
If you wanna check out more of my post-show bathroom self-portaits, here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150594523852712.389068.170396277711&type=3! I am on my way baby! And with an inspiration like Grace Jones leading and guiding the way, I know I will be there real soon!
I had this huge breakthrough a little while ago when I was singing and rehearsing. Things just kinda came together for me. I love breakthroughs. Breakthroughs are da bomb. I never know when they are gonna show up or what information they’re gonna contain for me.
Anyway, it was the evening of December 19, 2011 and this is what happened:
I did my vocal exercises and warmed up. They weren’t the best. And then I started singing and practicing. I had to to use the “Tiny Ooooh’s” because I wasn’t hitting my mark or hitting to hard. The “Tiny Ooooh’s are amazing, they really remind me of my inner voice, and how it comes through quiet, but strong. And through the “Tiny Ooooh’s” I can also tap into the emotions of what I’m singing. Just that little exercise blows my mind. But also through that came this… uh something smacked me up side my head and went “your style”, “your sound”… you don’t wanna sound like anybody else. You don’t wanna mimic anybody else. Even my producer, who coaches and guides me in the recording studio, has her own way and style of singing. It’s hers, not mine!
So I went to my computer and opened Cari Cole’s (love love love her!) “Finding Your Signature Sound & Style” worksheet again and read the first exercise which says:
Write down the ten top songs/artists that you love. Include artists that you listened to growing up (at least 5 from the past). And next to each, write down what you love about the song in particular - choose one of the following: lyric (the songs message), songwriting, vocal (sound & style), production (music or sound), genre.
Side note: You can get this for free from her website! Check it: http://www.caricole.com/documents/Your%20Signature%20Sound%20Worksheet%20by%20Cari%20Cole.pdf
After reading this, I am reminded: Wow! I love Nina Simone, and I love the soul in her voice. I love Grace Jones and I love that deep, haunting, but powerful sound that she has. I love the soul of Jill Scott. I was watching the VH-1 Diva Soul Special and I was reminded of Soul Soul Soul. And that when I sing, there is soul, but what else is there? I came up on 80’s rock, and I love Queen, the Police, Blondie, David Bowie…
I started singing again… it’s now 2 o’clock in the morning. And I thought, let me sing this song again. Okay, let me sing it this way. There’s nothing there. Okay, let me sing it THIS WAY with more soul. Okay, hmmm but that’s not all there is. Okay, well let me sing it this way with the soul and a little more of that ROCK edge. And I did that and I felt like OMG, THAT’S IT! I HIT IT! I felt like I hit the core of what MY SIGNATURE SOUND is! I was like WOW!
It’s taken however long it’s taken to get to this place but I’m here now and now I feel it’s important for me to keep developing that. I’ve come to a serious turn in my music and singing. I just need to keep practicing and building, finding and trusting and getting out of the way and letting my sound come through. The lesson that came through from this experience was: I have to be willing to be imperfect to get to where I want to get. I have to allow myself to be vulnerable because being imperfect is vulnerability. And I know that without vulnerability, there is no change. There is no growth. There is no significant or substantial growth. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to be imperfect. And from that grow and move. And because I allow myself to go down that road, I actually rise. I actually come. And what I desire comes to me. It’s about taking risks and stepping out and being willing to sound bad in order to get to that place of sounding good.
This journey that I’m on right now of rising as a musical superstar is blowing my mind. I’m learning patience and I’m learning trust and believing that things will come my way at the divine right time that they need to. Blessings be…
A few weeks ago I was sitting in my dentist office's waiting room reading about Kim Kardashian in W magazine. Reading about all of her riches and her accomplishments for being herself and becoming a reality TV superstar. And, how everybody wants her to endorse their products or services and I think what a great op for me to write a blog post. Hmmm, what am I going to write about? And I remember that a dear dear friend of mine called me that morning, frantic and in a tizzy about a big decision she had to make in like an hour. She wanted and needed my input. She got an amazing call from Cirque de Soleil, who she used to perform and work for. They were like, "hey, we need an answer from you right now! We are looking for dancers and we need you to get on a plane and come to New York tomorrow and audition to do a project with Madonna. We want you!" Even though she would have had to audition, I know deep in my heart she would've gotten it.
My friend's dilemma came through in a flurry of questions: "What do I do V? What should I do? Should I do it? Everyone is telling me I am crazy for not jumping on this opportunity?!" So I asked her, "How did you feel when you were first asked? What was your gut reaction?" Her answer: "I wasn't excited about it at all. I’m really excited about what I’m doing now with my aerial arts studio and my life!" I told her she needed to go with her gut reaction. I told her, “The reason why you are going through all of this turmoil is because you are doubting your instinct. You are not having this turmoil because you don't know whether this is a good opportunity or not!” Then I said to her, "Shit! That's amazing! They are calling YOU and they are telling you that you need to make a decision in an hour! We need to know NOW! Be honored and excited for the fact that they asked you. That they think you have what it takes, that you specifically are the right one for the job!" Her response: "But is it a good opportunity to promote my studio?" I said, "I don't necessarily see how? But if you're not there, wanting to perform right now, then you're just not there.” And she was like, "Well I wouldn’t mind being a Creative Director or something like that.” Bringing her back on point, I ask, “What is your decision about this? What is your gut instinct?” Again, she says, “I’m not interested. I’m not excited about it!” I said, “OK fine. Then follow your heart. That’s the only thing you can do. Follow your heart and only then will you be at peace within yourself.
In closing, I suggested she write to them thanking them profusely for the opportunity, but that she’s not into performing right now. However, she is interested in opportunities where she can be a Creative Director, give creative input and have a larger role in a project like that. So if anything like that comes up, please think of me and let me know.
Oh lawd, and now in hindsight, I think it would have been a great opportunity for her to network and possibly make some connects in regard to her desire to be Creative Director on projects. She could’ve rubbed noses with the diva lady herself, Miss Madonna! Maybe shown a little sneak preview of her skills, sought out some referrals. I’m just saying! But of course I haven’t said this to my friend. I’ll let some time pass and mention it to her. But by now, maybe she’s thought of it herself.
Anyway, at least she got off the phone feeling clear and at peace. What’s the moral of this story? It’s always best to follow our hearts, our gut instincts. They’ll never steer us wrong, if we just trust and believe. And in that, my own lesson came through and that was: It is time for me to let go…
Uuummm… I think I’m heading into another blog post, so I’m gonna stop now. Stay tuned for my next blog post… “Mind-Blowing Breakthrough”
Not too long ago, 2-3 weeks or maybe more... I dreamed that Lil Wayne wanted to get with me! He was trying hard but I didn't give in. He turned on his sexy, his mojo and literally was trying to charm me into bed with him. Or at the least trying to get me to drop my drawers! It's been awhile now so I don't remember too many of the details of, but he wanted me.
So I wake up this morning from a dream that was very very real! It def was a dream though. Don't know where I was, but I was somewhere. Couldn't make out anything really. But I do know that I was standing beside Jay-Z, that was very clear. Crazy. He had his arm around my waist, holding me close, massaging, caressing. I wouldn't turn to face him for some reason, but his arm felt good around me. I liked it. I didn't love it, I liked it. It was nice. I felt safe, but not quite comfortable. His other hand was moving and exploring my arm, shoulder, the other side of my body. He was putting his face, those gargantuan lips next to my cheek, my neck. It was clear he wanted to kiss me, but i wouldn't turn and dive in. Not sure why, but i just kept looking out, looking forward! He held me tighter, pulled me even closer and his other hand began to squeeze my flesh, barely brush my breast, trace the curves of my side and hip, linger and massage the flesh just above my "you-know-what". I began to melt in his arms, but i stood strong, didn't want him to know he was getting to me. But he knew, ha! He gently put his fingers under my chin and turned my face to meet his. Our lips met and sank into each other before I knew what was happening. Then, our lips parted, our tongues met and danced and teased and played! Yes Jay-Z and I were swapping spit, get the fuck!!! I woke up, thinking 'what the fuck!?' Crazy, 'cause that shit felt so damn real! Ahem, yes not quite a wet dream but it was heading in that direction!
What the hell do these dreams about Jay-Z and Lil Wayne mean?! God, what's up with that? Is it a sign, a premonition, what? I hope it means Lil Wayne and Jay-Z will be fighting over me, wanting me, seducing me to sign with their labels! Sweet! Hey a girl can dream and that's exactly what I'm gonna keep doing! Living my dreams! Watch out world!
I am about to break onto the music scene with my debut single, "Dangerous"! Wow, I can't wait to share my music with the world. I hope there's somebody out there who will like it. I"ve been an artist pretty much all of my life. Dancer, choreographer, director, producer, costume designer for dance and theatre, make-up artist, poetess, actress, burlesque/striptease artist, performance artist and the list goes on... But never, out of everything I've done and continue to do, have I ever felt so alive, so present, so conscious, so connected, so plugged in, so damn grown-up as I do being a singer, songwriter, a music maker! And I think that is because I finally, after so many years of skirting around the edges, stepped through that door. Fear be damned! I have stepped into the world of music and claimed and embraced my true passion. I am home.