New Year, Maya & Black Current Jam
By bahafaith, Jan 3 2018 01:03PM
Happy 2018 Everybody!
When you grow up in a small country like The Bahamas, poets are far off things. Writers and musicians have the potential to be successful, and by that I mean wealthy, in first world countries only. And therefore they are to be admired by the residents of small island developing states but not viewed as realistic role models. Lawyers, doctors, accountants, businessmen with illegal starts - these are what you aspire to in the name of financial stability.
My father died when I was twenty, and months after as I was falling apart, I wrote my first poem. Some of it went, “Every now and then a dreamer has a vision; and through this vision born, hope is kept alive; that what is now will not always be; for in the dreamers mind, she dreams of liberty. Every now and then, a sigh becomes a song; a song of peace, hope, love; a song inspired by God; that what is now will not always be; but even now, she can be free. So dreamer don't stop dreaming, and find yourself a song; while pregnant with your vision, sing it all night long….”
I’ll share the rest of it some other time. Plus I had no idea then that I would turn out to be a poet. A poet!?
Even then however, there was a figure whose books and interviews became a constant coincidental turn up in my life. People started giving me her books, professors started referencing her poetry. And I kid you not during every painfully difficult moment in my life, she showed up through others or television.
I remember in 1999, while in Law School in England, and too embarrassed to leave my dorm room with a black eye, the Oprah Winfrey Show became something I lived for on the four BBC television channels that were available at that time. And, well you know how Oprah felt about Maya Angelou, the both of them came through to inspire me to get back up in life.
Still I had no inkling that I would later on become a poet.
And then, I accepted that I was a poet, if I wanted to be. Except my country had taught me that it wasn't something to aspire to. But the work of Maya Angelou, in life and death, kept me on a path of authenticity until I became proud enough to accept myself, as writer and poet. And as soon as I loved the poet within me, Maya Angelou became a notable figure, not so far removed, whose life work gave me reason at every turn to keep on rising.
Dr. Angelou Maya died at age 86 on May 28, 2014 while I was ghost writing an autobiography. I had always held a secret wish to meet her someday on this side of life. I was saddened that I didn’t, given the level of inspiration she brought to my journey. It was then that I wrote a poem, a mediocre one first, and then a masterpiece (http://beingfaith.com). In that exercise, and in her honor, I pledged to continue giving my best to the written word, even if I am never discovered or find financial security through it.
Then the summer of 2016 happened. I decided to spend my birthday with my Hurst siblings just outside of Detroit in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We had a good time but Bobby had to head out a couple days after to tour with Diana Krall in Europe. Just before he took off though, he had to put some finishing touches on his Album, ‘Black Current Jam’. We had begun talks about doing a spoken word album one day (he and Jill still have 10 other poems to consider for an album). But in that moment we were all focused on helping him get in studio to complete, ‘Black Current Jam’.
It just happened. A bottle of Appleton Rum downed and a whole lot of smack talk, turned into Bobby asking me if I wanted to read a poem over some badass impromptu music which started with Pepe Espinosa on Congo drums. Jill had the poems that I wrote for Maya in her phone. Those poems had turned into a book by the way. And half drunk, late into the afternoon, in a small studio, I recorded for Bobby. He, more than I did, liked it.
I agreed to that track making it on his album, really in continued honor to Maya Angelou. It was another way for her to live on, through another expression - spoken word over Jazz music. I thought she would like that. And the rest as they say is herstory, ok history. The album launches in the United States next month, and Downbeat Magazine (www.downbeat.com) has already given it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
When I think about giving up on writing, I always arrive at the summation that one day, my work is going to encourage some other writer to give it her best. Because we are the ones who birth real inspiration in our world. We are the ones who push the threshold of possibility, we artists and inventors. We are the ones who eventually change the expectations in a small developing country or expand for dreamers the reality of what can be - mistakes and all.
That’s why Maya. That’s what she was for me. And that’s how the track, ‘Two Beats and a Breath’ made it on Robert Hurst’s ‘Black Current Jam’!
Check us out!
Authentically Yours …