This time of the year is full of promises, resolutions and passionate plans. I, like all of you, have approached the year with plans of being better than I was last year. Last year was definitely a good one for my personal life and career. I maintained a 90lb weight loss, toured with Beyoncé, released a new song and video, was featured (w/ Beyoncé and The Mamas) on a DVD that was distributed worldwide, and thanks to BET (Black Girls Rock) & VH1 (VH1 Divas), I had the opportunity to sing background for over 20 awesome and inspiring recording artists…many of whom shoes I aspire to fill. Some might say that I’m at the pinnacle of my career right now. For, there is no doubt that I am grateful for each and every opportunity and am better because of them. Yet, I’m still striving to get “there”…
Where is “there”, you might ask? I’ll answer that in a minute, but let’s talk about your “there”. Have you ever wanted something that many thought was unnecessary, irrational, overly ambitious, didn’t deserve, excessive or out of your reach? But no matter how much one said you didn’t need it, your heart and mind couldn’t rest until you did.
You have a pretty face, you don’t need to lose weight.
You’ve got a good job, you don’t need to go back to school.
You’ve got a family that loves you, you don’t need a mate.
You make good money; you don’t need a part time job.
You’ve sang with Beyoncé; you don’t need to be a solo artist.
or, as I have actually heard people say to/about Beyoncé…
You ARE Beyoncé; you don’t need to do anything else.
All of these sorts of statements are said to ALL of us in some way or form everyday. No one – not even superstars who we assume have it all – are exempt. And usually, they are birthed from one of two types –Haters, who we shouldn’t be entertaining anyway – or through the love and support from people who care about us and are striving to assure us that we are ‘good enough’ just the way we are. Indeed, we are. However, if there is a dream or goal you have in mind, nothing and no one will (or should) fill that void until it is reached. No matter how close you are (or how close people may think you are), you are grateful, but unfulfilled because you are not “there”.
Two days ago, after preparing my breakfast, I searched to find my morning inspiration video for the day. One of my New Year’s resolutions (though I refuse to call it that, cause I’ve failed at my last few ‘resolutions‘) was to start and finish my day with an inspirational video. As long as I did this, and no matter how bad the day seemed, I am never more than 12 hours away from a living example of why I need to stay the course. When you look for it, there’s a world of inspiration out there. Anyhoo, I came across the now infamous commencement speech Steve Jobs gave in 2005at Stanford. I’d always watched excerpts, but never the video in its entirety. I’m so glad I did. I’ve cut and chopped a lot of the contents, but here are the phrases that resonated most with me:
”The only way to do great work is to love what you do…Your time [on earth] is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life….don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice…have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition. Don’t settle…stay hungry…stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs
I am blessed to work doing what I love most – MUSIC. There are moments where I’m sitting in a rehearsal studio going over parts or on stage performing and want to cry out and run around like a lunatic in amazement that I’m doing what I love. Other’s would pay big money to be in my shoes. But to say that I could live the rest of my life doing just this would be allowing the ‘noise of other’s opinions’ to drown out MY inner voice. My inner voice is crying out for “there”. As elated and overwhelmed as I am with where my career has been, before anything, I am a singer and songwriter with my eyes set on a successful career as a major recording artist. That’s “there”. All else, though appreciated and glorified, is a building block to get “there”.
I’ve been aspiring for a success as a major recording artist since the age of 18. From that time to now, I’ve had my share of near misses, including a short-lived deal with a small label under MCA Records. Once that bottomed out, I set my sights on a career as a professional background vocalist with the hopes that it would not only beef up my experience and give me on the job training, but that I’d eventually emerge into comparable success as Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crowe – all former background vocalists –did. What I didn’t expect was for it to be 10+ years later, and I’m still striving to get “there”…
I could think about this all day, wallow in its reality and sink into self-pity. OR, I could settle my mind on the blessings I have had – to travel the entire world and share the stage with a superstar. That should be enough, right? It’s not. If millionaires and billionaires can aspire to be BETTER, why can’t I. I, too, have worked hard and paid my dues. So no matter how long it takes, I will keep my head. Steve Job’s message confirmed all that I’m determined to be in 2012 – driven, unsettled, hungry, focused…maybe even foolish. But I won’t stop, until I get “THERE”.