Since I moved to North Carolina it’s been challenging for me, especially the past few months – this transition of becoming the woman I was born to be. Growing pains transformed into growing wounds and no conversation, counseling or relationship would help me heal. It was a task strictly for me, my art, and God (all one in the same if you ask me).
There were so many times I reached out for help but kept getting pulled back as if this force was saying, “You are strong, right? You call yourself Soul Survivor, right? Let me see what you got!”
I was sitting at my desk on craigslist, completely tuned in to helping someone find a job in the construction field. And lo and behold, a job, which seemed so out of place but yet so perfectly placed, read in bold print:
‘Spoken Word Artist Needed’
I had so much I needed to say, but thoughts of fear immediately tried to win…
Am I ready to face the crowd in this type of environment and emotional state? I’ve recited a poem once before, in front of maybe 10 people, in a small place – but Apostrophe Lounge? One of the most popular spots in downtown Charlotte? Am I even a “spoken word artist”? I mean, I write, mostly, and have imagined myself speaking and touching people with my voice, but am I ready? I know I was born to do this – but am I ready? I want them to know that in front of them is where I belong. But am I ready? How can I be in this much pain and be ready?
That’s when the God in me spoke to my me and said, “You were born ready. Yes, you’ve spoken before, but that wasn’t your breakthrough. Back then, you hadn’t faced any major life situations, like you have this time. And although it sounded like you were speaking, you were just talking, reciting an old poem. This time, you have to dig much deeper.” Then my art said, “I’m ready!” As soon as I heard those two voices line up with each other, I quickly sent an email, before fear could interrupt the flow:
My name is Linda, and I am interested in performing…
Next thing I knew, this happened. What in the world?! I was on a flyer! They put me on a flyer! Just the sight of it frightened me, but there was no time to think about fears – IT WAS TIME to face them. So much so, I decided to use the flyer as my phone background so I could stare fear in the face, every day.
I didn’t want to make a huge announcement about the event on social media. I planned to have it professionally captured for those who were unable to experience being in the crowd.
At the end of the day, it was more about the people I was delivering to, especially those of African descent, and more specifically, women. It was about what they needed. I had put it off long enough – years, I might add. The words inside of me were holding on so tightly, they began pushing through my pores.
The strongest push came from the thought that my wounds might very well be someone else’s wounds, and my voice may lead their healing. From that point forward I became a force to be reckoned with.
My mind became saturated with the different messages I wanted to convey, but true meditation would only allow me to deliver one message that night.
I was in the zone for two weeks straight. Everything else was a distraction. I completely isolated myself from anything that could throw my focus off balance. I spent a lot of time alone, meditating.
I wanted people to see my passion and feel my heart every second I was on that stage. I prayed and fasted, filling myself with the abundance of spiritual overflow that came from meditation. I wrote and crossed out and re-wrote until Shout Out! was birthed.
The meaning of this piece goes beyond the lines. These two words meant… I will SHOUT OUT for anyone who feels like they can’t shout.
I will shout for the women who died from violence and abuse; I will shout for anyone whose destiny miscarried because of the overwhelming pressures of society’s reality. I will shout to capture present human error for the correction of future human error. My voice will be their voice.
I recorded myself speaking and listened to it at least 50 times a day, imagining myself speaking to people as if I had spoken plenty of times before. I was pushing away all fear, every day.
I arrived two hours early and sat in my car – yes, listening to my piece. 7 pm hit, and I walked inside to inform the event organizer, Paint & Play co-founder and owner of Create Amazing LLC, Michael Colloway, who was very polite and helpful, that I planned to speak at 8:30 or 9.
The music and drinks were flowing, people were pouring in; it was lit! And so was my tunnel vision. I followed its light right back to my car and listened to my piece until it was time for me to go on stage.
I waited patiently to be introduced. After my name was announced, I walked on and removed my shoes. I was now entering my sanctuary, my home. I welcomed my fellow Soul Survivors with a shout, “WHEN I SAY SHOUT Y’ALL SAY OUT!” When I heard them shout, “OUT!” with such great strength and unison, that was my confirmation. Wow! The artistic energy, the intuitiveness, the freedom and encouragement as I took a long moment of silence and someone said, “Take your time.” And not too long after that another said, “Oooh, she got that fire!” They let me know they were listening. They weren’t just hearing, they were listening.
The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and I am happy to say that Apostrophe Lounge is the place where I shouted out MY WHY for the first time. To me, the experience was a post trophy for the pre, the beginning. A reward for facing my fear. The best and final reward of that night was when I was walking to my car and someone said to me, “I loved it! And I actually remember everything you said!” There is no better post trophy than that. Thank you Create Amazing LLC and Apostrophe for allowing me to be…me.