It's been a very long time since I've greeted all of you on this medium, over a year judging by the drafts I had saved. And what a time to return, right? A lot has changed in the year that I haven't been active on this blog not just in my personal or professional life, but in the world view as well. But, I believe it's all connected. I feel like now is as good of a time as any to return and maybe what I write, and my unique perspective as a musician and a black woman can not only help someone who looks like me feel more comfortable in the field of classical music, but also, it could help someone who looks the most different from me see a different perspective, think a little deeper and realize that just because that they have a little more privilege, they are not the enemy.
Just as a background, today as I am typing this, it is July 29th. And while I'm still in school for a master's program, I actually haven't composed or finished a piece in about two months. I just started a new project a week ago and I feel like a new born faun trying to walk again. I think as a way to ease back into this blog thing, I can talk to you about WHY I wasn't writing (and how I was still being productive but also respectful to myself) and I will not beat around the bush regarding the exact influences from the outside world that contributed to it. Because this is MY blog and MY story and MY career and MY feelings. And they're all valid and necessary. And maybe, in a few more posts I'll go into my story of how I began in classical music and what the world and the diversity looked like from my standpoint at every stage of building the musician I am now. So let's get started shall we?
I'm a person that doesn't feel okay doing nothing. I've realized that in many ways I attribute my worth to how productive I am. And that's a can of worms for my therapist, NOT YOU, to open. So how on earth did I manage to go 2 months without a fresh, sparkling, bombastic piece of music made with some super spiffy sample libraries to show for it? Well, on February 23, 2020, Ahmad Arbery was murdered on video, and it didn't get national attention until months later. I didn't know until months later. Was he a personal friend or family member of mine? No. On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor was shot in her sleep in her own home by police officers. And it didn't get national attention until months later, AND the officers who shot her have still not been arrested. Was she a personal friend or family member of mine? No. And finally, on May 25th, George Floyd died with an officer's knee on his neck. Was he a personal friend or family member of mine? No.
*I'll pause here to remind you that this is my story and I am not opening up a space for a debate on the current outcry and protests happening in America. Your opinion serves no purpose in this narrative and I am not using this platform create divisiveness and purposeful misunderstandings. Keep reading if you are TRULY trying to understand why I was not creating music.*
None of those people, were people that I knew personally. Many of the people that are added to the list of names of others who suffer far too similar fates are not people I know personally. BUT. This recent time forced me to really address what I was pushing down in myself. That I was black first. I was black before I was a musician. I was black before I was a composer. I was black before ANYTHING. And my black heart and my black soul was HURTING in a way that I could not handle. I was forced to look up from my sheet music and remember the struggle that I grit my teeth and smile through. The struggle that so many of us make look "easy" as we keep climbing all while carrying it all on our shoulders. So why did I stop writing for 2 months? Because I simply COULDN'T. For a little bit of insight about myself, when I compose, I HEAR it in my head. There are as many methods to composing as there are composers themselves. This has always just been my way. And of course writer's block happens no matter what method you use. And there are ways to work around it or work through it. But this wasn't that. For all it mattered, I could have been hearing melodies and chord progressions in my head all day long and through the night. But I. Couldn't. Compose. My spirit, my SOUL, was in unrest. I couldn't keep trucking along, and using the composer part of myself to mask the hurting that I was feeling due these tragic headlines, AND for the loss of many friendships because they couldn't understand why my family, my community was outraged. I didn't care for the explanations of either perspective. I powered down. Music had to take a back seat until I could find SOMETHING beautiful and SOMETHING worthwhile in the world again.
So, did I know WHEN my music would return to me? Absolutely not. But I wasn't worried. Worrying about when I could compose again wasn't going to fix me, but reconnecting to the part of me that I dimmed down to make many of the people in my field feel more comfortable? THAT is what I needed to do. I needed to surround myself with MY people again. And just to be perfectly clear, I love everyone who loves me (sorry, but I'm not a saint). But, I HAD to remember that I had a network of people that shared in my experience as a black person and a black woman and could make sense of any ramblings of my feelings that I made whether I communicated by being extremely satirical or by being extremely dark and serious and not judge me for my frustrations and confusions. I had to recharge. I had to regroup. And for once my burn out wasn't caused by music itself, it was caused by the world.
During this time I had to say no to projects requested of me by people so near and so dear to me. The block was part of it. But also, I was not about to write ANOTHER piece about black struggles and systemic oppression. Yes, I said "another." I've already written 2. And many, many, MANY more have been written by names bigger and smaller than mine alike. We've BEEN fighting the fight. But no. Music, which is my love, my hate, my career, my solace, it couldn't fix me this time. It's picked me up from the darkest of times but it couldn't reach me. I had to reach me. I had to reach back to the "me" that I lock away, not out of embarrassment, but for protection from any judgment or hatred that she doesn't deserve. I had to reach me. And remember how to love me. And thank THAT me for being so patient with me while I struggled to remember what was so GREAT about her. Her strength and her vulnerability. Her talent and her hard work. Her steadfastness and her flexibility. And I had to finally invite her to come back to the surface of me to fill in that missing piece that was missing in who I am. I had to create the space she deserved to be free within me.
And when I did that? I couldn't stop hearing music. I couldn't stop itching to write things down. I couldn't stop the ideas from flowing to the point that I spent a few weeks just absorbing that energy. It felt limitless. And It still does. And it's her. I now realize that for some of my best pieces, I "tapped into" her. But never used the full potential. But this potential now is so valuable to me and so beautiful. While I wasn't writing, I was studying. I was researching methods of music production. Tips and tricks from other composers and producers. Watching online masterclasses full of advice from big names in film music. I knew that while the music wasn't flowing, I wasn't done. I needed to start rebuilding from the ground up all over again. Because when the time came, I wanted, NEEDED, to be ready to have my skill level match what I was envisioning within my whole self.
And the time is now. If you've read this far, thank you. I hope something in this resonated well with you. I hope you hear from me much more frequently on this platform. Thank you for your patience in me, and thank you for being here to welcome me home.