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Thursday, August 20, 2009

A View From the Floodlights: Somilia Rabee and BEATS SOUNDS LIFE

I love the playfulness in Track 1. Rabee takes me to the top and gently back down to the bottom with her sexy lines: "You're the one for me....Look me up...I'll play music for you." I sway and rock, know that I could cut up in a sassy, jazzy way on a dance floor, in stilettos, a short dress, making eyes at her across the dance floor, completely convinced "You're the one for me...tell me what to do!"

"I can't make a deal with heart's never true...but I think you're the one." Damn, I love her lyrics, the way she delivers them, the pumping, throbbing music that matches the pattern my feet dance. The gyrl-based love lyrics are taking me atop her mad beat. Pick up BEATS SOUNDS LIFE. Spin it and meet me in the middle of the sky, aight!

Track 3 slips into my private places. Cause it was Saturday nite and we are both with someone else it, Somilia Rabee. It is so it...hacerlo, bebe! I need a breath. Sweetness slipping into my...did I say private places?...killin' me! Huh uh, yeah! Gracias La Diosa por esta mujer y tu musica!
Yes, I have been alone, thinking I could do it alone! Rap that truth; I know you do exactly what you want, Querida! I wanna climb high and higher on the tide of your flow, wanna climb as high as the sky, trippin' on the beat behind your beautiful words. I'm in Track 4, believing in time travel. Si, creo en los viajes en el tiempo. Let's go! Vamos!

Track 5 picks up tempo...cause ya'll gotta get up off her back. Jump on the you'll be hooked on Rabee...como mi! Le gusta su sonrisa? Yeah, yo se! (sonrisas)

Me encanta esta foto! Es fabulosa, si? Su Track 6 demands one focus on the beat, on the flow, on the instrumentals, yeah on those sticks, so I try to stick and not fall off the world in the white of perfect teeth and electricity of tantalizing beats....

Track 7 jams the instrumentals, tambien! Feels your blood and surfs your bones with an electric pulse, make you wanna stand and ride the tide all afternoon in the beauty of this Atlanta Thursday. Yeah! Shoulders flowing from side to side, lado a lado, gettin' it, 'cause I'm lost in the beats, which clearly states the name of this amazing mad CD. Go to MySpace and listen and purchase it, my darlings. You will find yourself in a precious retreat with the showstopping talent of Rabee!

Now you done heard. Take the word to the streets. Share its ferocity, its truth, its beauty with whomever you meet. Bless someone like she has blessed me, like I'm blessing you. Love's a circle. Step in, listen and relax. Let your heart spin its own truth on the panorama of A Golden Life that is yours and mine, minus our judgments and false perceptions.
The Golden Goddess reigns in numerous manifestations....

Somilia Rabee and her music shine with a love that connects us all...

Who is Somilia Rabee? Come, take my hand, slip inside and see...

I had the good fortune of meeting Somilia Rabee on a beautiful July afternoon. On her concert tour, she was passing through Atlanta, on her way to Montgomery, AL. And as the Goddess would have it, our paths crossed, and I was blessed when she accepted my offer to appear on my show. As she gifted me with her new CD, sound unheard, I invited her to guest star on my blog, right here, on A Golden Life.
Again, she said yes, providing me with divine answers to my questions and delicious pictures.

Without further ado, my darlings, I give you, Miss Somilia Rabee, artist extraordinaire....
1. Who is Somilia Rabee?
Just a human being trying to survive in this crazy mixed-up world. Doing it my own way, not taking no for an answer and claiming what I want.
a. What does your audience not know about her that would charm their hearts?
My other passion is for serving people, my mother, a stranger on the street, a customer in my store whatever and whenever..some of the positions that have most impacted my life have been those where I worked with mentally ill patients, adjudicated youth, at-risk youth and incarcerated women. Ultimately I would like to start an organization to teach people from these communities and many others about business development and management.
2. Are you from a musical family?
Listening to music has always been a big part of my family's tradition but not so much creating it. I do have several relatives who are visual artists though.
a. Is your family supportive of helping you pursue your dreams?
Absolutely. I was always marching to my own beat, so they don't expect any less from me as an adult. When I told my mom I was leaving my job at the Department of Transportation to do music full time, she kind of gasped but soon got over it after I reassured her that I have to follow my heart and my dream and that I have a plan to actually bring it to fruition. She couldn't really argue as she did the same thing herself around my age.
3. When did you know you wanted to be an entertainer?
I'd say by 7th grade. I was a class clown and loved the attention and making people feel good. I knew I had a knack for it, and by my freshman year was doing stand up at a local comedy club open mic.

4. What inspires you in the work of Herbie Hancock, Phoebe Snow and Lauryn Hill?
Herbie Hancock made some crazy music on the keyboard. I've always loved jazz fusion (often these groups were headed by keyboard players Bob James, Chick Korea, etc.) and Herbie Hancock just got nuts with it..I feel that same energy when I jam out on the keyboard..just like you wanna go nuts! Phoebe Snow has a really amazing voice but sang beautifully without all of the trills and going up and down the scale etc. Lauryn Hill is just dope! Amazing singer, amazing mc, producer, musician, woman, activist, mother and I'm sure much more. I wish she would come back...
5. Who are The Heath Brothers?
The Heath Brothers are a jazz group out of Philadelphia. They were very popular during the late 70s and early 80s when jazz fusion was really developing as a genre. I actually used a bassline from the song "MellowDrama" as the foundation for one of the songs on Beats, Sounds, Life.

6. How did you come about such a smooth, tantalizing flow in your music?
I'm not sure..this was my first digital production and I kind of just went with what sounded and felt good to me. I was just learning the programs and was limited in my abilities as well and I think sometimes that simplicity creates a sort of continuous groove..kind of like riding a low wave that's safe and comfortable but feels really good.

7. What is your creative process?
It varies...sometimes a phrase or sentence will come into my head and I'll write it down and create a piece around those beginnings. Most often, I am either tooling around on the keyboard, guitar or one of my virtual instruments and just come up with a chord progression or rhythm, melody that feels good and right like..ahhh this should be a song. From there I flesh out the know, adding a bass line here, a guitar solo there, or whatever components you choose for that song. It's like a painter with a palette of colors and a variety of mediums, canvas, oil paint, acrylic, you choose whatever seems right at the moment and just build from there.

8. How has your first tour been so far?
Crazy! Truly a journey from day one! Most exciting event? Having an opportunity to see New York at its most vibrant...I've never visited in the summer and in a matter of a few days saw Q-Tip in Central Park, an amazing musician that I know from Chicago, folks dancing, skating, playing drums, hustling and just being so was pretty amazing. Most challenging? I was really sick one day for several hours. I'm living out of my car and so that's where I had to lay. I was vomiting about every twenty minutes and it was particularly hot this day. I had to keep the windows up though, as I was parked in a neighborhood with all kinds of people going by and I didn't want to make myself was the worst!

9. Where would you like to perform if you could perform anywhere in the world?
I'm thinking UK ..touring with Lauryn perhaps.

10. If you could regale one person with your silken sounds, who would it be and why?
Alicia Keys..I had an opportunity to meet her once and mentioned that I'd really like to play music with her sometime. Her response that she looked forward to it was genuine. If I could, I'd lavish her with my sounds in the hope that she would do a project with me.

11. What messages do you convey in your music?
Love is a common theme throughout everything I've ever written. I feel that is what I am..all of us are at the core. However, because of our fear of ourselves as love defined that fear manifests itself into all of the crazy scenarios we encounter with people throughout life. So in that context, I always write about love and its many manifestations. Beyond that, my message is one of equality, responsibility, and empowerment..realizing yourself as a part of the universe and beyond.
12. Describe what you have learned from your years with Electro Hip Hop, the HEARD and Kansas City?
Hmm, I guess that I am capable of making a good living doing something I love, but what that requires is not something that you or others easily manage. I can only be responsible for myself, make moves for myself and I suppose that is what being with those groups have taught me.

13. Have you always lived in the Chi?
No, I was born and raised in Kansas City, KS and MO, lived in Iowa, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, Utah and Jamaica for a couple of months.

14. How do you download and meditate?
Download..a nice bike ride, stroll along the waterfront, watching a movie. Meditate..sitting or lying quietly with no sounds except the electric buzz of the energy around me, playing guitar, biking.
15. How do you get in the zone before a show?
Usually just hang out and do it up with friends at the gig before I go on. The voice saying "Ok, let's do this, you have to do it hard, you gone do this!" is inside me all the while, pumping me up and getting me comfortable to get up there and entertain the people that came to see me. I am also really big on rehearsing...the more of that I've done the more comfortable I am and the less I have to prepare myself mentally to get in that zone..I'm already there you know.
16. Are you a spiritual woman?
Very much so, although I'm not into religion as far as "following" it, I do find it interesting, but I feel a very deep connection with the everthing.

17. What is your next project?
After the tour I'll decompress in Chicago for about a month then head to wherever I decide to live next. Wherever that may be, I'll set up my studio and get to work on the full-length album and managing Bad Girlz Productions.

18. Do you plan an overseas trip any time soon?
I feel and see myself overseas very soon though I haven't made any official plans. I believe it is a part of my near future.
19. When did you start your beautiful locs?
I had locks before, cut them and spent several years bald. I started growing my hair back in 2001, and I guess officially started locks in 2003.

20. Who blessed you with the enchanting name, Somilia? What does it mean?
My mother gave me my parents were a part of the Nation of Islam when I was born. They wanted to give me a name that reflected their beliefs and so when my mother saw the name in a newspaper article she was reading about the country she knew that was me. I have tried many times to find the meaning of the word "Somalia" and have yet been unable to find anything more than explanations about the country itself. However, my middle name, Rabee, is Arabic and means, spring.

The Golden Goddess
El 19 de agosto
Con amor

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Love and Reverence for THE OTHER SIDE OF PARADISE

For days now I have been sitting down to pay homage to the beauty, the light, the intelligence,

the audaciousness of one dynamic

young woman, Miss Staceyann Chin, author of the rave


Why has it taken me so long to do something as easy for me

as breathing---writing this blog entry?

Every time I venture to surf the net to learn something about this extraordinary woman, I discover something I did not know before and I pause to internalize the juicy new tidbit.

Staceyann is mesmerizing in herself and the machine that is her support system is bodacious!

Not only is the book on my desk, worthy of gift-wrapping to myself, as a reminder that with so little, one can do so much, but also it is there as a veritable gift to present to anyone I love!

I learned Staceyann had a website from one of her friends on Facebook. Yes, this is a young woman who actually, socially knows Ms. Chin...except now that Staceyann has ascended the blockbuster ladder, this person is no longer privy to her. Never any mind though! The young woman advised me to go to if I wanted to learn more about Staceyann.

What a blessing in itself!!!

Simply, I hope my author's site is half as engaging as Staceyann's when I finish with it later this week! But don't take my word, as a Jamaican woman informed me about the health benefits of a particular orangey spice at the DeKalb County Farmer's Market earlier this week. Go to the Internet and meet Staceyann for yourself!

On my virtual visit, I saw beautiful images of Staceyann and her extended family, which sounds peculiar, even in writing, considering she writes poignantly about growing up, drifting, wanting to belong to a real family, not a fragmented one, who sometimes, in the case of her "supposed" father, Jimmy Chin, who blatantly stated that he couldn't be her father since he was never intimate with her mother.

On her site, she became real for me, as real as one of my sisters or friends. There was audio. I sat under the music of her poems, recited in her beautiful bird-like voice. I wanted to leap up and call her, let her know that I understood. Her words showered me in a presence I could only feel! I was baptized and dipped under piercing emotions elicited from her poem, "Catching Myself," in which she writes about praying for babies she has never met and not wanting to walk down the road (of life) alone, without the love of one's own babies. Likewise, I do not want to continue walking down the road of life without a significant lover: a woman to laugh with, to make love to in the oceans of the world, to travel with, to make breakfast together in my parents' kitchen, to whisper with through the night and sleep entwined in the morning light, to articulate my secrets to, to be strong with, to cuddle our grandbabies with. I think of my silent poetic pen and begin to rumble with my own ruminations.


On her site, I discovered her SHOUT OUT BOX! Yes, you could actually leave a published note for Staceyann and her visitors to read; so I leave a message, inviting her to come to Atlanta and stay with me while she reads across the city! I leave my personal email, too.

Her blogs, albeit ONLY four, are entirely fascinatingly rich meals of glimpses into her world. In "Falling for Bob Marley, in her simple, poetic, inimitable style, she writes of Marley's message of love and the reason why she decided to leave Jamaica eight years ago, amongst other things. I discovered in "No One Cared If I Kissed Girls" that she engages in worldwide workshops on "writing the self" and poetry workshops and that she has found being Black in America is almost as problematic as being lesbian in Jamaica.

Diosa, Goddess, I loved her statement: "So when I discovered that I liked the smell of girls more than I liked the taste of curried goat and rice and peas (with lots of gravy), I promptly decided that relocation was in the charts."

That is bravery in action, to pack up, lock, stock and barrel and leave the familiar to be one's self, to love without the threat of a self-righteous machete singing at your ear and without corrective rape for lesbianism. How many of us would fly out of our homeland on a self-imposed exile, a journey whose story we cannot fathom, to be ourselves?

I'd like to think I'd be able to do it; pero yo no se! (The only complete Spanish sentence my sister Chicken can say.)

I visited, to get a picture of her memoir to share with you, and I received a gift of my own! There was Staceyann, bright and bushy-tailed, articulating her book's journey and for 2:32 minutes, in video footage, she sold her book!!!! This young woman has taught me much since I came across her book's title in a publication I no longer remember. I learned that she appeared on Oprah, and as an out lesbian, she was sharing, and proudly, her trials and tribulations and triumphants with the world! Her presence reminded me and other lesbians that it was fabulous to be us! If by chance one of us forgot, which I try not to do, even when I am hiding, at some inopportune time, when I think to admit so would be to incur instant attention, negative attention. But that is in my own head sometimes, so I correct my erroneous thinking and move on!
That Staceyann has become an ICONIC performer since she has been in New York for eight short years. Her presence reminds me how much more I can do, how I should ferret out fear in my life, and live! Sometimes we think we face fear and giggle, leaping forward doing what we do! But there is always so much more that can be done. And I intend to do all that I can do before my Sisterlocked head hits the pillow for the last time!
To see her perform on her website is enough to make you want to grab a mic and hit Centennial Park, stop the Wednesday music gala and slam the gathering with poetry, like Theresa Davis and Queen Sheba and Lakara. Publish your life and concerns right there in the park, in the heart of the ATL. Dance in a colorful sarong, let lose your hair and shake your butt and be elated for the beauty of breath and love and freedom!
I love Chin's statement: "I cannot conceive of a life in which I am not a traveler."
Truly, I understand! You learn so much traveling, nationally or internationally, hell locally, when you reach out to others and see their faces, hear their voices, eat other foods and listen to other music, and abide in another way of being. I am feeling the travel bug myself.
Anybody want to go away with me for a day, a weekend, a week, a month, a lifetime? (kisses)
Oh my! The title of the memoir...
To use the other side of paradise, the side that was wealthier, as a metaphor for going somewhere else or being someone else was absolutely beautiful! Staceyann illustrates this in her video on Amazon!
Miss Chin is a FULL-TIME ARTIST. The winner of slams from Chicago to Denmark, she is the author of "Hands Afire," her first one-woman show that ran for ten weeks at the Bleecker Theater in the Summer of 2000.
In my locs, now, I can yet hear her words: "I want to erase the straight lines so I can be me."
Amen! Hallelujah! Peace and blessings! Light and love! She makes me want to dance!
Reading her memoir, I came to love her and the world about which she writes.
I find myself missing her Grandmother. I know I'd be "one of we," if I were in Jamaica.
I miss Delano and wonder how he is fairing in Germany, wonder if he has a German wife and half German and Black and Chinese babies, handsome babies.
I wonder who is lucky enough to be Staceyann's woman, her wife. I wonder how life has changed for her after the publication of the book. I hope she is amassing more wealth, to do all that she wants to do!
I wonder about her beautiful, wandering, French-speaking mother. I'll bet Staceyann is fluent in French by now.
I wonder if those Jamaican boys who almost raped her in that nasty bathroom at school ever recognized their transgressions and forgave themselves. I wonder what that Jimmy Chin is doing. Racquel? Wonder what Auntie Ella, with whom Staceyann spent that first magnificent summer that showed her what life else where could be, is doing? I am even curious about her Aunt June and her tiresome behind.
The memoir boasts a style and voice that forges to the forefront in this generation of writers! It is a feast of a meal! I am FULL! I have supped in Sorrow's kitchen; I have laughed at the grown little girl unafraid to tell you what come pon her lips; I have screamed at Miss John and her bad-azz crew; I have wept at the near-rape, and I have applauded with the others when Staceyann delivered the graduation speech.
I am pleasantly I will retire to the arms of my office sofa and get up in a little while to make myself a pot of peppermint tea.
The air conditioner is the only sound I hear, aside from the clicking of this keyboard.
Although I am not on my way to Hartsfield International to join my beloved friend, Anita, who is flying to Africa, to Senegal, for a nine-day celebration with her sister, I am happy. I am blessed. I yet live a Golden Life.
The Golden Goddess
August 13, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Healing Letter I Remember for Self...

This letter comes from an e-mail of healing and love that I wrote to a young sistahfriend seeking advice.
In rereading it, I discover it is worthy for me to reread tonight, to remember all over again, that I AM because THE DIVINE IS...

Good evening Mi Joven Amiga Querida,
I trust you have been blessed with a lovely Easter at this writing. I have!
First, let me commend you for what you have done. Many people would never have come out of their shells or stepped around the walls they build to say what you have said. It takes courage. It takes self love. It takes the willingness to learn.
Yes, I have lived long enough in my fantastic years to have been where you are now.
Please know that it is a blessing that you are there. It is where your soul desires you to be...or else you would not be there---here, to live and love and learn.
You have vowed to choose love instead of angry, to release the antagonistic individual you once were. That is a beautiful decision, a milestone of a transformation.
No matter how hard it seems to remain on this road of your journey, stay. It is well worth your time.
It is true, people take kindness for weakness. That has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the other person. She is yet learning, and we do certain things until we don't. It's all good. Continue to be kind anyway. It is not for her that you are being kind; it is because you have chosen to be no other way (and remember Love is the Way).
You, mi amiga, are faced with a situation in which you must know what it feels like to turn the love you are giving this young lady, so desperately wanting her to receive, to yourself, to Miss Tucker.
The love you seek from her you must lavish on yourself!
That means you must love yourself enough to accept that (for whatever reason she is running and sidestepping your vows of love and affection) you can walk away. When you walk away, you affirm your love for her and, most importantly, for you.
No, you do not choose to go upside her head, call her a few choice bitches, and remind her she is not the only dime in the ATL, because you can collect 5 of her before you reach your block.
You are a new woman. You are choosing to love in the seeming face of no love. Before you leave for your trip, tell her how you feel about her, even though you think you know she knows how you feel. Tell her you don't ever wish to abuse her by staying around, when her actions are screaming "Go, sistah, go!" Why? You love yourself too much to do that.
Then you walk away. Don't look back. Keep your eyes straight ahead. Don't buckle and call. Don't inquire if she's okay? Don't look for her in the places you used to go, in the places you know she'll be.
Look forward. And if you must do anything, send her loving thoughts, send her good wishes. Want for her what you'd want for yourself: love, happiness, health and wealth.
Doing this is a healing act. You choose love in a powerful way.
I have lived and loved long enough to know....whatever happens, her coming back to discover where you went, why you aren't seeking her; you walking into the sun, where another young woman will be waiting to love you; where you may need to be alone, to know from deep within yourself that you are WHOLE, COMPLETE, and BEAUTIFUL already, and that YOU ARE ENOUGH, just as you are, every curl, every smile, and every gestures.
Trust that you will have what you thank the Divine for. She may or may not be the response to your desire to love. But know anyway that if you asked the Goddess for a woman, a lover, a mate, she will be there. Just for you. And when you ask, ask in gratitude, as if she is already present, for she is.
Allow the feelings of rejection and shame and inadequacy to course through you. They are emotions that come to visit to teach us. You are, like Rumi, a great philosopher says, a guest house, and at your front door, emotions will come knocking throughout your life. Welcome all of them...JUST do NOT stand in the way when it is time for them to leave. To do so is to create your own living hell. If you do, they will be worse than year-old fish grease in your nostrils, worse than tar on your soul.
So welcome each new day. It is a gift, another opportunity to love yourself and others.
I loved a woman much like you love this young lady once. Poured myself everywhere you could imagine. Wrote poems about her. Asked her out. Showed up on her doorstep. Took her home to my sisters. I imagined her accompanying me everywhere. Stroked her in my dreams. Woke with her in my head, on my whines. But the more I spread the feast of me at her feet, the faster she ran. And for the first time in my life, I met true sadness...and it was of my own making. Then the day arrived that I realized that I was enough. For myself and others. And I took sadness by the hand and led her out my back door.
I stood on the porch, reflecting. The love I was giving someone who did not want it I gave to myself, and from that day to this I walk with my head to the sky, my heart open wider than India Aire's desire to live with an open heart. The lesson I learned was I am a gift to myself. You do not continue to ply a gift towards someone who does not desire it. You are a prize. Walk like it. Talk like it. And others will perceive it, and receive you accordingly.

Beautiful Easter Blessings,