Does That Matter To You?

The sun sees the same…over and over and over…nothing new. Music has always been therapy. It’s been our voice. It’s been our release. It’s been our attempt at processing tragedy. And it has been a large part of our contribution to this country’s culture. But we’re not here and we’ve never been here to simply entertain. Art and music should enlighten, empower, elicit and catalyze.
They built their religious and secular rituals, festivals, and social gatherings on the foundations of song, dances, and rhythms they invented to cope with and express their New World realities…Image-1.jpg

In the United States, the dominant forms of contemporary American music and vernacular dance are also derived from America’s African-based slave legacy. This has occurred despite the fact that drums, the rhythmic foundation of African music and dance, were outlawed in many slave communities in the United States. 

When slave “masters” and overseers in the United States discovered that drums could be used as a secret means of communication, they were banned. But African rhythmic sensibility would not die. Nor could it be suppressed.” (An excerpt from a National Geographic News article that explains the connection between African slave’s roots and American culture.)

Image-1-1.jpgIf you’re having trouble processing all that’s happening in our country, especially this past week’s killings –mind you, it’s nothing new–I’d encourage you to try making some music, or find some type of creative activity to release your emotions. And then, if you feel led, share what you create to uplift and educate other people. It’s not the only way to respond, and it’s certainly not going to fix our society, but it breaks the silence and  it counts in it’s own way. I spent some personal time yesterday reflecting, writing & strumming. Here are the lyrics and a clip:

 

We only want the same things that you’ve got,

but we pay much more.

What will it take for you to recognize our worth?

From the time that the drum was silenced,

our desires stirred

for us to matter and our voices to be heard.

Now you can watch,

but you see what you want to see.

You can hear the screaming,

but are you listening?

Every moment, we’re moments away

from another tragedy.

Does that matter to you?

Because it matters to me.

 

©Maya E. Hairston, 2016

Words for a Fortune

I’d like to introduce you all to someone I love and admire. Chiereme is a sweet soul and a brilliant creative who also uses her gifts to impart healing truths.  You may not know her yet, but you’ll soon be giving thanks for her inspirational literary art, as I already am. Her message speaks to some incredible experiences women face, some universal insecurities, and some comforting realities about beauty. Having been privileged to hear and see her deliver such meaningful, original bars on more than one occasion, I’ve concluded I’d like to learn her perspective on writing lyrics, processing situations as an artist, identifying inspiration, and the like. Here’s what she had to say in the following mini-interveiw:

  1. When did you begin writing spoken word and/or songs? When did you discover your passion for writing? 

    I’ve been writing as long as I can remember! I’ve always had a passion/fascination with word(s), books and great stories. I got my first Barbie journal when I was about 6, and I have’t stopped journaling since then. I actually started doing spoken word on accident. A friend of mine had progressed from poetry to rap and initially wanted me to sing on one of his mix-tapes. As soon as I agreed, he change(d) his request to writing a verse to rap instead of sing. I kept telling him I wasn’t a rapper, though I was dabbling in poetry for the page. He referenced his journey from poet to rapper and challenged me to try. I tried and what came out was my first spoken word/song piece, You Are. I’ve been slightly obsessed with spoken word, intriguing word-play and the artist that create similar art forms ever since.

  2. What inspires you to write?

    My journey. The stress of life. The joys of life. Other poets. The Word of God and His presence throughout my everyday life.

  3. What kinds of emotions allow you to write most productively?

    The people, situations and experiences that cut me deep. Humbling experiences. Moments when I can’t stop smiling. And the scratch-my-head-moments that make me  wonder why in the world Jesus chose me.

  4. Whom are you hoping your art will impact most?

    Specifically, women in my season of life (16-35), learning to be still, learning when to move and learning themselves as they dig deeper into who God is – some for the first time. 

  5. About which subjects do you write most often? Why?

    I write mostly about my own experiences – loving, learning, living, winning and losing. My poems seem to always true back to ideas like identity, personal reflection and the contrast between what we do and how God responds.

  6. If you were to sum up everything you’ve written into one key theme/message, what would that theme/message be?

    Becoming the woman God created me to be one messy day, vulnerability hangover, question mark, season, and hallelujah at a time. 

    Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of what inspires Chiereme’s art, I bet you want to check out some of her work… Here’s where you can find it:

My One Thing

 

There is nobody

who loves me the way

you love me.

Even though I’m just nobody

You chose ME to be somebody…

 

So…this cover is kind of old…but lyrically still relevant to my life. I adapted the tune from a familiar song (I’m more than positive you’ll pick up on it).

 

 

So take this offering.

I lay me down at your feet.

You were once

just a something,

but now You are

my one thing…

© Maya E. Hairston

 

Continue…

Acknowledge your faults. Accept His divine, forgiving grace. And keep moving forward.

Part 2:

…I’m so imperfect

but your love is kind

patient and forgiving.

It makes me cry.

And when I fail myself

and I fall

Your love,

it never fails

to hear me when I call.

You’ve had a plan after all.

You break me down to make me strong…

© Maya E. Hairston, 2012

“My Sound?”

I almost get flustered, sometimes, when people ask me any version of the question beginning with “what kind of music…?” I usually just tell people that India.Arie is one of my greatest inspirations (as I noted in my last post). But I also have to shoutout some other favorites and/or influences. These include Mali Music (definitely a super favorite), Lisa McClendon, Corinne Bailey Rae, Esperanza Spalding, Anthony Evans and more recently Lianne La Havas, Adele, Jazmine Sullivan, and Travis Greene. That’s an array that excludes so many more. And while I don’t channel all of them all of the time, that should give you an understanding of my general taste in music.

As a marketer, I know the importance of establishing and sticking to your brand in order to build a strong relationship with your target audience. I think the same concept generally goes for a musician, who must know and be able to communicate his or her sound. It’s been difficult for me, though, to describe my sound with one, encapsulating word when I’m speaking with people who aren’t familiar with my taste/the aforementioned artists. So, you get to witness this brainstorming session… Here is a list of words that come to mind when I contemplate words that describe my kind of music:

  1. Soul
  2. Soulful
  3. Rich
  4. Smooth
  5. Unique
  6. Deep
  7. Peaceful
  8. Authentic
  9. Acoustic
  10. Contemporary
  11. Music
  12. Captivating
  13. Enthralling
  14. Calming
  15. Soothing
  16. Kind
  17. Soft
  18. Buttery
  19. Pure
  20. Therapeutic
  21. True
  22. Mine ♥

How about this…here’s a snippet of me covering Ghost by Lianne La Havas accompanied by my favorite guitarist and bother, Jeremy. Quick plug…He’s playing on a guitar he built himself.

(Video Credit: Shoutout to my bestie on the camera, Amira Maxwell. Check out her incredible travel blog, “Wherever She Goes.”)

Feel free to help me out with more adjectives you feel describe my sound. I’ll consider them as I continue brainstorming. Or, suggest more artists you think I’d enjoy. I love expanding my playlists.

 

What I’m Thinking This Valentine’s Day

Being introverted has its perks. But I’d argue it also has plenty of pitfalls…like the pessimism that comes from spending too much time with my own thoughts. Maybe I’m alone, but I suspect my personality makes me, in many ways, detrimentally analytical. While it’s wise and healthy to be protective of myself and my heart, I fear I may miss out on some key growth opportunities if I spend too much time overthinking my way out of taking positive risks.

That’s what inspired this song, “I Think” (you’ll hear just a snippet). I began writing it when I was 11, to process all of the feelings I wouldn’t always bring myself to express otherwise. I’ve been adding to the original version since then, but I’m not quite sure it’s finished–perhaps because I’m still overthinking it (and most everything in my life).

Evidently, this song and it’s writer are both works in progress. My transformation can only come through a renewed way of thinking; an enlightened perspective for a fuller, more productive journey (Romans 12:2). Accordingly, the more recent lyrics in this song portray a key shift in my perspective, but these are my initial, more natural thoughts:

Haven’t you noticed

the way that I smile at you

Haven’t you noticed

the way that I’m shy with you

I don’t know if you’ve noticed

the way that I act around you

Well, I was blinded

but I’ve been unblinded to

The way that I think about you

Yes, there’s more to what you think I think about you…

I thought it was obvious

the way that I’d laugh at you

I thought it was obvious

the way that I’d single you out

or joke around

It was obvious…the way I felt a little nervous

but excited at the same time

Now I’m admitting to

the way that I think about you

But only to myself

’cause even at my loneliest I’d rather not get hurt by someone else

so I think away my feelings, hoping that you’ll catch them as they float away…

Yes, there’s more to what you think I think about you…

Now…here’s the shift (and one of my favorite parts):

I’m learning. I’m striving to be cautious, but not anxious. I’m trying to be positive and think about only true and lovely things.

Image-1-2.jpg

Finally, and speaking of lovely things, I suppose (given the occasion) I’ll dedicate this snippet to all of the guys that never knew I’d had a crush on them. Here’s to you most likely not even knowing who you are (LOL). Happy Valentine’s Day!

© Maya E. Hairston, 2016

Learning to Love Myself

Confession…though I make remarkably frequent use of it, I don’t always like what I see in my mirror. However, I’m learning to live by this principle: rehearse to reverse. To avoid being harsh and extremely critical of myself, I reflect on what my Creator says about me–I am enough. I am capable. I am here for a specific purpose. I am loved. I am beautiful. I have to rehearse the truth to combat or reverse the lies that discourage me from living a productive and abundant life. Indeed, some of the attributes I consider my greatest flaws my Creator designed to be my greatest assets.

These are the lyrics to my original song, “You Say I’m Beautiful.” I sing it when I’ve been suffering from an unhealthy self-perception…

When you look down and see me standing there

Oh, you smile down on my curly hair

And when I cry about my body

You say, “Child, look up. I made you for me!”

And you love me

You love me

Unconditionally

Take me in your arms and say you’ll never let me go

And even when I don’t see it

You say I’m beautiful

‘Cause you formed me

You made me

And you call me your baby

Took me from the dust so your image I would show

And even when I don’t feel like it

You say I’m beautiful

I don’t know what I do

That you would want me close to you

But still you love me anyway

So I give you praise

But when I don’t

When I criticize

Your creation through my human eyes

You’re faithful to reveal the truth

I’m your child so I look like you…

Teach me to see the way you see

To believe that you created me how I should be

A reflection of your grace and all your love for me

I’m a product of your handiwork, your masterpiece.

 

Also… Here’s a few seconds of the acoustic version (just the chorus):

 

© Maya E. Hairston, 2016