As a headstrong seven-year-old watching Whitney Houston slay on national TV., I imagined a life for myself that was just like that one. I’m glad I never gave up on the dream and made being an expressive singer into a reality.
Music wasn’t my first talent—photography was—but it’s been apart of my life since I was a little lad. My eldest brother, James, was a DJ, and with his guidance, great taste in music, and love for making people move, he helped me develop my style. Living with him, it submerged me with so many world-class acts that ranged from hip-hop, rock, and pop artists, all of whom would share themselves fearlessly on stage. The unique individuals who represented these genres inspired me to be my authentic self, and in turn, fall in love with the music industry and performing arts.
Loss and what comes after
Among all the stars, the brightest one was my mom. She passed away two years ago and now shines over 11 of her beautiful children and so many others who loved her to the moon and back. The world I knew shattered that day. What once was her guiding light was now a dark patch cluttered with glassy shards of self-doubt and distrust. As time dragged on, I was sure that no one could fill my dear mother’s absence. And in my search to feel her just once more, I took a road trip to Minneapolis. Reflection and clarity made gains with each mile closer to the city. Along the way a hawk, my spirit animal, swooped in to tell me to reclaim my destiny with freedom. Head out of the clouds, I turned on the radio. That’s when I came across Mel Robbins. Her Ted Talk and #5SecondRule (“If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds or your brain will kill the idea.”) changed my perspective and shifted me back into finding a solution to becoming happier. I was drawn to grow.
Life now matters in a way it hadn’t before. My ego has died, and my purpose on this planet is now this vivid picture painted by my desires. Making music with substance, being my true self, and the deep-rooted passion to better this world took centerstage. Those thoughts keep me on track while planting me right here in the present, living every moment each day has to offer. With the negative space of uncertainty in my head cleared, my focus is now on the future.
There have been countless realizations where I’ve stopped and said “Is this my life? I’m able to perform my own music and occasionally get a good twerk in on stage, too? I’ve got the ability to help our community grow by lending a helping hand to innovators and culture creators?”
Those thoughts were the pat on the butt to keep me moving, giving me newfound appreciation for milestones achieved. Winning 88.9 Radio Milwaukee Artist of the Year comes to mind as fuel for inspiration. Their awards ceremony was full of amazing talents from our city who are making music that matters. Rocking out at the Milwaukee Bucks halftime show for the first-ever Pride Night, backed by my beaut dancers and fellow New Age Narcissism familia will always be a stand-out moment. We represented the LGBTQ community in a positive way, with the added surprise of the game being broadcast internationally. It allowed whole new parts of the world to see the diversity of the Milwaukee music scene.
I’m missing a moment. This memory involves one of the largest music festivals where my mom saw me perform last, a place where I got to meet Questlove backstage with my best friend Amy after we opened for the Roots. In a tutu. And this year my musical familia helped me open for BJ the Chicago Kid on a world-class stage, too—of course I’m talking this year’s Summerfest! Being the first performance of my new sound, vulnerability was in play, showcasing authenticity and growth. Those walking by could feel the connected energy of the audience underneath the Johnson Control Pavilion. Song after song, the crowd grew in size, people who had never heard the band and I before came and stayed. It signaled to me that the new music touches souls and is ready for the world to hear.
Just the beginning
To quote a great philosopher, Britney Spears, “Get to work b*%@ch!” That saying, along with my personal motto, “Keep It Moving, Yah Beauts,” serves as ammunition for focus. The year holds new collaborations with a resilient LGBTQ community group, where I’ll be advocating a message of self-worth. Now a sitting member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, I’ll have the opportunity to get our generation behind a beautiful establishment dedicated to bettering the quality of art we hear within our city.
The present moment ignites me mentally for what’s to come, the new album “Table 7: For Sinner & Saints.” Channeling all of my once-bottled emotions through lyrics and mind-altering productions over the past two years, I am now set free.
Staying fluid like water and never fighting the waves is what has moved me through hardship. Finding out that happiness exists right outside my comfort zone changed my world. The bigger picture is far more important than any doubt I have now. This is only the beginning.