My life has always been connected to art and music, which was mostly the influence of my great Aunt/Grandma/Friend, Ann. My understanding and connection to music were made up of magical moments, like walking into a room while my cousin, Anna Monique, braided Disco Diva Dom DaDa Sylvester’s hair. I later realized how my upbringing made me comfortable with every type of person I’d ever come across. I especially loved what Sylvester represented, Creativity and Being You, no matter what! He was in the Deep East Oakland, getting his hair done and representing blurred gender lines before it was even talked about.
In that very same house I met Sylvester, Stevie Wonder sang happy birthday to me over the phone. Ten years later, from my St. Mary's dorm, I found myself talking to a very outgoing guy named 'Pac. He was calling from Marin City, and I just remember teasing him for being a Rapper from Marin. I told him Oakland would eat him up and that I could probably rap better than him. Needless to say, we found each other hilarious. Not more than a year after this conversation, I was riding in a car with DJ Daryl and he pops in a song he produced for lil known Rapper, Tupac! It was "Keep Ya head Up". It's one of my Theme Life Songs.
My ALL TIME favorite music life altering moment…feeling the music through my body at 12 and thinking Betty Carter was singing just to me (she later brought me albums after the show)! She could express emotion through her voice like a Goddess. I felt her Love for Love and she made it into pretty sounds, sometimes No Words. She ignited my jazz fire! That year, I put up Wynton Marsalis' album cover next to DeBarge and Michael Jackson's Off the Wall Posters on my wall. A couple of years after that, Aunt Ann brought me a note from Wynton that said "Happy Birthday Pumpkin". He is still my #1 Music Crush. I just found out a few weeks ago that my big brother and he are friends... That is the crazy synchronicity that I mean.
Much appreciation goes to my Aunt Ann for bringing most of these moments have helped shape my taste, appreciation and understanding of culture, music and people as a whole.