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Renaissance Marie Austin "My Story"

            My name is Renaissance Marie Austin and I have finally built up the courage to tell my story. But first, let me lay the groundwo...

Happy 19th Birthday Billie Eilish!

Let's face it. People think I am nuts, but I don't care. This is actually one of the growth spurts that took place within me since the day Billie Eilish came into my life. After becoming an official fan I remember my brother saying to me, "What are you, 16?" 

Of course. Just like an adult to be "adulting". No, I am not 16, and while I joke about being a granny, I am not that either. I was fully conscious that I was a grown person completely taken aback by a teen "pop star", and that was my first lesson, throwing away the socialized idea that age dictates who and what I am supposed to love and enjoy. After doing that I felt a new kind of freedom and intuitively I knew that Billie had come to be my releaser. 

From her 16 and Killin' It interview about three years ago this quote cemented my loyalty and dedication: 

Billie: "And it's like young fans...they are the ones that care the most because they have more caring in them than older people who have lost all of that. (she pauses) That's crazy! I just realized that...when you're young you haven't wasted all your love yet.

Interviewer: "You're full"

Billie: "You're full of love.

I will never forget this because I have never forgotten how loving, affectionate, hopeful and dreamy I was as child, teenager, and young adult. There was never a time I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, where I wanted to go, the things I wanted to accomplish. I had dreams and visions as young as five years old of a life I knew was predestined for me. Yet, the more I lived, the older I got, the loves and people I lost, came the possibility of me becoming bitter. I never wanted to fall into that trap. I learned in church from the Book of Ruth that I had to be very careful about becoming bitter over all the horrible things I went through in life. The moment Billie spoke this in the interview I was immediately enlightened AND checked, and I was glad for it. I felt relief, like FINALLY DAMMIT!! Someone who gets it! I kid you not but I felt a rush of love fill me as if I was being renewed and reminded that I was, well, uh, kinda depleted of love. I was losing hope after feeling like I was doing all I can on my own to live my most fulfilled life wondering where the hell are the people who are supposed to help me. [Side note: I do not believe that nonsense about people doing every single thing on their own for their whole career. Guess what? Tried it, been trying it, my hair is turning gray. People need fucking help, a catalyst person. PERIOD! LOL.] That's another journal entry. 

Okay, back. Sorry Bils, this is supposed to be your Happy Birthday letter, but I am sure you will appreciate my little rant. Honestly, I feel like Billie is the journal I have written in throughout my life and has came back as a living person to read herself back to me. I saw so much of myself in Billie, such similar thinking at her same age but because of my generation I was made to feel like my ways were all wrong, that I couldn't do and be the things I imagined I could be. I have had these discussions with some of my older friends and we just didn't know any better back then. We worked to fit into the molds that were shaped for us, but I was a renegade and did not even realize that that was what I was. I am not going to take the time to say what people told me I COULDN'T do. There is no point because you already get the point.

Well, so that this letter is not too long. I just want to say Happy 19th Birthday Billie. I saw you getting your Dragon all dolled up for a fun time I am sure. I just want to say I love you and that I have always loved you from the first moment I laid eyes on you, from the time I thought you were just a wild child fronting a rock band named Where Are the Avocados, when I didn't know your name or what you did. You are a gift to this world and a gift to me, especially during this interesting year where you have gotten me and so many others through. I dream of you and you make miracles happen in my life. You bring me happiness and you restored the promise of my own life visions. You freed me of other people's blockage of my accomplishments. I no longer worry about who is not helping or understanding me. You re-confirmed and reaffirmed my uniqueness and me being comfortable in my own skin. You are beautiful, your voice is beautiful, all from the inside out. You are strong, wise, open, understanding, insightful, encouraging, engaging, commanding, demanding, unwavering, humble, bossy, affectionate, loving, comforting, and so much more. How can I telling it all? There are no words to fully describe the galactic feelings you bring. I am truly thankful and blessed that you are here and have stolen my heart. From the moment I first saw you till this very moment of my typing I have thought of you every single day and every millisecond of the day and that has been for three years. I end my days scrolling through your tagged photos like it's a night job. I wake up with you in my morning prayers. I always hope your days are grand and filled with joy. At this point I not sure what the world would be like without you. Pretty dull and that's super facts. I stay alive because you are alive and well. I know that is a lot of pressure, but I am just being real and honest because I have dealt with a lot of death and I learned very young to tell people how you feel while they are here and not over a wooden box being lowered into the ground. I love you BILLIE!! Happy Birthday and celebrate well. The love you put out into the world is truly felt. Believe me!

This video means so much to me. It was the first time I saw Billie in person at the Shrine Expo. The full backstory is in another journal entry here on this blog so I won't go into it. I mean, all I can say is eyes, hands, soft. I am so happy I got the opportunity to touch Billie and receive her energy. I fully understand that she is a real person, but highly special and deserving of receiving all the love she puts out. It is truly an honor to love on Billie and it makes my life better. 

Poetry From Jamaica | Three Triolets

Three Triolets

It was the ride from the airport to Lantine’s villa.
There were cows and goats by the side of the road.
Surreal excitement took away homesick feelings.
It was the ride from the airport to Lantine’s villa.
Eyes closing to hot humid winds ripping through hair of red color
Island weathers tropical stories untold.
It was the ride from the airport to Lantine’s villa.
There were cows and goats by the side of the road.

              by Renaissance Marie Austin

We went to the open marketplace where there is fresh fruit and produce.
The children are beggars in the streets selling anything from gum to dominoes to thyme.
Checkered slave dresses, nappy twig hair catapults whirlwinds of time deduced.
We went to the open marketplace where there is fruit and produce.
Cheat me, "the rich lady", my unheard of wealth is of your poverty use.
Sun-browned faces ache at the glimmer of a dime.
We went to the open marketplace where there is fresh fruit and produce.
The children are beggars in the streets selling anything from gum, to dominoes, to thyme.

              by Renaissance Marie Austin

I love the mornings here.
Heavenly winds whisks in clear comely days.
The salty sea of Negril I can still feel.
I love the morning here.
From my window I see silent ocean waves, abiding on the balcony of my heart is steals.
Scanty is my spirit in this massive bedraggled grandeur of Montego Bay.
I love the mornings here.
Heavenly winds whisks in clear comely days.

             by Renaissance Marie Austin

I Found This in Google Drive

(Written March 17th 2019)

Dear Drive Journal,

Currently, I am listening to an E on Fire Podcast interview with Laura Gassner Otting. Her book is called Limitless. I am inspired by this podcast and must ask myself some very important questions. First, why do I do what I do? At the moment my answer to that question is this. All I want is to use the skills I have to the fullest and best of my ability, then allow the rest to take care of itself.

So far, I can surely say that my small business, my voice, and my fashion designs have taken me places I never imagined I would go. In all honesty, I can’t really say all the places my talents can take me because well I don’t know all the places I can go in the world. I believe if you keep pushing eventually you will end up in some amazing places. 

It is true that there are things I need to define and be reminded of. One of those things is how I receive revelatory understand when I read things. I have not read as much as I should for a while now, but I really need to soak in more information so that I can have a better understanding of things and so that I don’t forget. 

Key things to remember:

  • Define success for yourself, not what the world says or what other say

  • Always read

  • Know the reason why you do all that you do

  • Stay persistent and consistent 

Book Ref: Extreme Ownership book

"I am all smiles. There are some horrible sentences here, and some mediocre thinking, but it is nice to look back and see that was I was always trying. I think it is time for me to finally read the book I personally suggested. Also, I love the key points to remember. They were dead on then and they are dead on now. And they apply to everyone. Once you let go of the socialized success everyone thinks you should be you find yourself living a much happier life according to your own personal definition of prosperity and achievement. Always journal, always read your old self back to your ever renewing self."

2020 BET Soul Train Music Awards Takes the Cake!

I found no flaw in this year's 2020 BET Soul Train Music Awards. Let me say that again. I found no flaws, not one, during this year's 2020 BET Soul Train Music Awards ceremony.

First, I want to congratulate all the winners and nominees. I am not sure how to put my finger on it, but this award show was strategically perfect from the pre-show to the main show, to the after party. I am aware that with events like these, as soon as they are done, planning for next year has already begun. It is evident from the final broadcast that there are people in the background that are fully on one accord and know to the fullest extent what they are doing. They have maintained what works and in the midst of COVID made adjustments for the benefit of the artists as well as everyone else in attendance, including not making the TV audience feel cheated of a transcending and energetic musical experience. 

The intentional display of black love by Soul-Coming Pre-Show hosts, husband and wife team, Flex and Shanice, carries a strong message of faith, family, and tradition, upheld by the black community for generations. The "I love Your Smile" powerhouse singer and sexy Black actor became a hit with audiences many years ago with their first hosting of the BET Honors ceremony around 2012 and have since become a staple in hosting many BET events. The pre-show also exhibited up and coming and established artists like Infinity Song and Skip Marley, in super vibey performances with beautiful backdrops that paid homage to the style of Soul Train from years past, Infinity Song, a family group of siblings wearing afros and 70's style clothing. The beautiful tiered performance system, from the pre-show artists to the amplified artists on the US Army stage, which are given about half the time of the main artists, and then to the main artists themselves, served its purpose in making sure that a plethora of artists could be seen, heard, and exposed to a wide television audience. Sponsorship placement and announcements were far from overbearing and cleverly incorporated into the show with comical punch lines instead of numerous commercial breaks. I don't eat Cheez Its because I am vegan, but it was all so memorable and very cute. 

Location, location, location. You know the mantra. And shall I say vibes, vibes, brick wall jazz lounge vibes? Google showed that the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California would be the location in which the 2020 BET Soul Train Music Awards would be held. However, unless this was a side lounge within the facilit it appeared that the ceremony was held in a different "historic" location according to R&B Princess Brandy. This award show came with an elegant black dress code for a physically distanced mini audience as well as the entertainers. Cocktail tables and lounge booths were perfectly placed for the masked attendees, with centerpieces and, what my eyes may have caught, candles. What I was most proud of was that the performers were given much needed physical onlookers and cheerleaders besides just TV viewers. Unlike parts of the American Music Awards and other virtual awards shows (not going to lie, the BET Awards Show earlier this year was moving and powerful as one long variety show music video), there was never a feeling that you were sitting in a dress rehearsal. The AMA's had a socially distanced audience, but way up high in the balcony when they could have been distanced on the orchestra level for the artists to feed off of more. Believe me, I get it. I know these organizations have five to ten years contracts where these venues are paid for well in advance, but I loved the fact that the Soul Train Awards were held at a smaller venue with the perfect aesthetics to showcase complete essence of Black culture and music. Another plus was the house band accented with two background singers, one male, one female, who also wore classy black and black face masks. One band to play for all. Easy, smart, perfect. 

Listen, I loved every single performance and every single speech. They were well written, well read, thoughtful, and vulnerable. There seemed to be a fairness amongst the artists who were nominated and who won. No popularity contest here, but later we will talk about Summer Walker and her Album of Year win. The performances showcased a variety of music styles from Ella Mai's sultry mood to CeeLo Greens wild and funky dance tune. Brandy gave me whimsical wizardly conducting and opened that vocal bible which had me moaning and groaning with a scrunched up face, while the Atlanta diva herself, Monica, killed it, performing past hits that made me feel nostalgic, then had me up cutting a rug to her new single "Trenches".  Moses Sumney. Do I need to say more? Um, yes I do. Look, I've been following him on Instagram for a very long time and he is one of the few humans on the planet that make my mouth salivate. I was so proud to see him on the Amplified artist stage showcasing his beauty, style, and voice. And, I can never fall out of love with the smooth vocal stylings of Smokey, Babyface, and uncle Charlie. I tell you, by the time the final award of the night for Album of the Year was presented I didn't want the ceremony to end. 

Last but never least, are the triple threats themselves, childhood to adulthood friends who met at an audition as little girls, Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell. From the theater stage to television and more these ladies have yet to receive their flowers in my opinion. For three years now they have been hosting the BET Soul Train music awards and it has been a win win for all. I love seeing them together in comedic fashion while displaying all of their talent. They are the epitome of black performance of the past, present and hopefully the future if we can continue to bring powerhouse singers to the light.  

Most of all, there was a no political propaganda and I was there for it! No Biden, no Trump, no BLM fest, an organization that does not represent majority of the Black community anyway. Most commercials were geared toward uplifting the beauty of the little black girl and blackness in general. Themes throughout the estimated three hours, from the Soul-Coming pre-show to the Pass the Mic post show highlight included using your voice to be heard, being who you are, family, hope, love, and great music. There was no one-sidedness, no negativity, nor the putting up or down of particular people. It was unapologetically high-end, decadent, first-rate, and superior! By the time the Pass the Mic highlight ended, which I just learned about Sunday evening and thoroughly enjoyed, I was smiling and full of buzzing energy. I also thought about how thankful I was to the sponsors and advertisers who took part in making the BET Soul Train Music Awards what they were. I thought about decades of yore, even before I was born, when the black community received no mainstream marketing and advertising, event sponsorships or promotions, when black communities were ignored because they were not seen as relevant to the consumer market. I mean, how long did it take for cosmetic companies to actually make color foundations for ALL black women skin tones. I was in high school myself when I remember LancĂ´me having two shades only for black women. It was one of my favorite cosmetic brands and the department store representative looked at me and tested the darkness color on my skin. I ended up buying the next color up because it was my only choice, just to get home and have my brother tell me my face looked green. The next day I returned the foundation. You get my drift right? Many of us who are old enough have had many experiences like this, trying to shop in places that underserve us. Somewhere, somehow, and with data as proof, white American corporations realized the value of the black dollar, the black vote, and black prosperity and success. Somewhere along the way our spending was realized and became very important and it is an honor to be seen as valuable. I see this as a plus and if we as a community can strategize on how to leverage our spending even more than we can experience even more return on our output. We will talk more on this later, in another journal entry perhaps?

So, if you have not seen the BET Soul Train Awards head over to BET.com for all the latest highlights and performances. I will see there. 

2020 American Music Awards Were Amazing and Lame at the Same Time

Let me just be real guys. Award shows need normalcy and audiences, period. I know we are living in a 'head cocked to the side with a frown kind of time', and because of it nothing carries the exciting energy it needs to, especially in music and entertainment. 

Last year I attended the American Music Awards, an experience I will never forget, AND by miracle if I am to testify! As always my driving force is the beautiful Billie Eilish of which I am always rushing off across town to see whenever the timing is right.

Because she stays at the forefront of my heart I knew in my gut that if I drove from Anaheim to L.A Live in Downtown Los Angeles that Sunday, with no ticket, only faith and hope, that I would get into the award show to see Billie perform live. And I did. Right at the moment when I thought all hope WAS lost a young lady walked up to me and offered me the golden VIP ticket and invited me to join her and her two girlfriends. Just like that I was living inside of a dream, VIP orchestra, red wine and Sprinkles cupcakes. What was even more fantastic was that we were sitting by the left stage entrance where Billie and Lil Nas X walked back and forth and we screamed for them every time and they waved to us in return. It was a blast. Over the years I have learned to live life by my gut and in doing so I have experienced miracles every time. My only regret was that I should have gone to talk to Billie, Lil Nas X and Regina King during the commercials. Those were the people I wanted to see and I kept telling myself I could go at the end, but that turned out to be a failed mission. I was unlearned, but well, I learned. 

This year, I sat in my living room and watched the AMAs alone while reminiscing on last year's fantasy come true. So much can change in one year, can't it? While most of the performances felt like a dress rehearsal, artists like Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Katy Perry, and Billie Eilish really brought the show to life, even if just to a TV audience and a small group of fans high up in the balcony, which I felt could have easily been physically distanced on the orchestra level for the sake of performers feeling their energy more.

Taraji P. Henson, and her character "Cookie" from Empire was necessary and needed. Her animated fashion and hosting style was the perfect combination to keep the small in-theater and Tv audience engaged. Of course I was thinking, "Hey, how did those people get the job of quarantine audience?" lol. Too bad. I was not on top of my game this time around. Successfully, Taraji entertained Jay-z and Beyonce cutouts, the fans, and the TV audience. The woman is multifaceted okay!

Let's talk about Justin. Justin, Justin, Justin. I was not sure what to expect from a COVID award show not done on sound stages then pieced together. Let me just say that there are entertainers who absolutely need an audience to make for a great performance and then there is Justin. As I sat there watching him open the show, with every moment, every movement, every note sang, my eyes became more and more wide. Truth be told, I felt the Spirit of God! I don't care whether fake or authentic as some people would assume. He is intentional and I am sensitive to spiritual things and a positive person seeing the glass half full. Man oh man, Justin sang his ass off with so much heartfelt emotion and contemplation. This is the head space he is in right now. As you listen to his latest releases you get a sense that he's been thinking a lot about when he entered the music industry. He is writing and singing about issues of loneliness and of growing as a person and I am loving every minutes of it. It's honest, healthy, and nurturing to my mind and brings peace to my thoughts. I feel I am not alone in my own contemplation of my life. He and Shawn Mendes together? Literally, a dream and their voices fully compliment each other. By the end of the opening performance I was overjoyed, shaking my head, holding my heart, which was filled with so much satisfaction. I had an entree´ already and could have went to sleep after that, but my main reason for watching was to support Billie and her performance. 

Returning from commercial with Henson's announcement of Katy Perry, I was expecting a very Katy performance as I should. I am a huge fan and she never disappoints. The minute she opened her mouth and began singing "As the Deer Panteth" I nearly fell out on the sofa. "As the Deer Panteth is a worship song I sang many times in church and is one of my all time favorites. I also thought, "What is going on here? These artists are filling me up with the church I did not know I needed!" And just like that Katy touched me with a moving, stripped down performance of her new song that, again, was honest. Between Justin and Katy I felt like I was experiencing what music was and is always supposed to be, about the lyrics and the authenticity of the artists' message, or the celebratory aspect. Sure, there is a time for lots of bling and flashing lights, but the singer/songwriter style never gets old. 

Here's is what I love about Billie. While there was no audience to interact with, which I know she loves, she, Finneas, and Andrew, the drummer, gave the most fun and easy going performance of the night that did NOT feel like a rehearsal run through. I have been to her concerts and have seen how professional and hardworking the family and crew is as a whole, so whenever I watch Billie perform, whether real life or a computer screen, I know she is giving 210%.

Ultimately, she wants to be proud of every performance she gives and it shows. I loved the staging, the fire red, the camera angles and frames. I loved the closeups and the planned backwards fall from off the steps. Pure gold. Her music always hits well live and a lot of that is attributed to having a great drummer like Andrew. The acrobatic stunts always remind me of how athletic she as I sometimes forget. What a beauty and a talent all the way around. I am waiting for the day when Billie sings while doing Ariel Fabric dancing. Yes, I know Pink has done it, but I would love to see Billie do it as well. 

Shawn Mendes. His voice. His musicianship. His dedication to music. He was not lame and never will be. That is all.

Meg the Stallion was lame and so was The Weekend, who actually needs a long vacation and hopefully there is a rehab located there. I mean, I sat watching in confusion, thinking about how far from relative these performances were to the climate of the times. I had a "read the room chile" moment and literally, I hate when people say that. But it's true. It showed the difference between those who are more engaged inward and those who have a little more awareness of what is going on in the world and how, as artists with large platforms, they can play a small role in helping to ease the minds of many. Artists tend to fall into that responsibility when they have so many fans looking up to them with admiration. So to me it is important to be conscientious of how ones exhibition fits and I found them to be in another headspace. 

But let's talk about the cutest performance of all. My guys, Bell, Biv, DeVoe. Come on guys, they were cute. You know it. Like, grandpa cute. The kind of cute that was really happy to be on stage, with their cute little Five Heartbeat moves. Now you know they have my full respect. I was so in love will DeVoe when I was a little girl and as a matter of fact, New Edition at The Forum in Inglewood, California was the first concert I ever attended in my life!

Overall, Justin, Shawn Mendes, Katy Perry, Billie Eilish, and Taraji P. Hensen made the Quarantine American Music Awards ceremony what it was for 2020. I am so happy I had the opportunity to attend the award show during a time before all of this craziness and I pray thing get back to normal where there is no COVID and music can reign the way it should. 

With Love, 

Renaissance M. Austin

New Youtube Video! Vegan Flax Seed and Oats Snack Bites

Hello all! I just posted a new Youtube video showing how I make my vegan flax seed and oats snack. Go now and be sure to subscribe to my channel. Thank you! 

Listen to this Podcast Before you Vote! "Let's Talk About It" with Special Guest Renaissance Marie Austin Pt. 4

Hello everyone! It is just a few days before November 3rd and we are facing the most important election ever in 100 years. I have been a democrat my entire life until just three weeks ago! Boy do I feel joyous and free! In this podcast, Let's Talk About It, hosted by my beautiful niece, Dejonia Johnson and my sister, Lisa Gales, my niece and I are simply two political novices just like you discussing how we came to understand the importance of our vote going to Donald Trump. We discuss two very different Americas and the victories OR consequences that will come about if you vote for the wrong person. BE INFORMED! You will be with this four part series dialog.  Listen now! Love you!

Listen to this Podcast Before you Vote! "Let's Talk About It" with Special Guest Renaissance Marie Austin Pt. 3


Hello everyone! It is just a few days before November 3rd and we are facing the most important election ever in 100 years. I have been a democrat my entire life until just three weeks ago! Boy do I feel joyous and free! In this podcast, Let's Talk About It, hosted by my beautiful niece, Dejonia Johnson and my sister, Lisa Gales, my niece and I are simply two political novices just like you discussing how we came to understand the importance of our vote going to Donald Trump. We discuss two very different Americas and the victories OR consequences that will come about if you vote for the wrong person. BE INFORMED! You will be with this four part series dialog.  Listen now! Love you!

Listen to this Podcast Before you Vote! "Let's Talk About It" with Special Guest Renaissance Marie Austin Pt. 2

Hello everyone! It is just a few days before November 3rd and we are facing the most important election ever in 100 years. I have been a democrat my entire life until just three weeks ago! Boy do I feel joyous and free! In this podcast, Let's Talk About It, hosted by my beautiful niece, Dejonia Johnson and my sister, Lisa Gales, my niece and I are simply two political novices just like you discussing how we came to understand the importance of our vote going to Donald Trump. We discuss two very different Americas and the victories OR consequences that will come about if you vote for the wrong person. BE INFORMED! You will be with this four part series dialog.  Listen now! Love you!

Listen to this Podcast Before you Vote! "Let's Talk About It" with Special Guest Renaissance Marie Austin Politics Pt. 1

Hello everyone! It is just a few days before November 3rd and we are facing the most important election ever in 100 years. I have been a democrat my entire life until just three weeks ago! Boy do I feel joyous and free! In this podcast, Let's Talk About It, hosted by my beautiful niece, Dejonia Johnson and my sister, Lisa Gales, my niece and I are simply two political novices just like you discussing how we came to understand the importance of our vote going to Donald Trump. We discuss two very different Americas and the victories OR consequences that will come about if you vote for the wrong person. BE INFORMED! You will be with this four part series dialog.  Listen now! Love you!

I am Fine with my Life

I can not speak for anyone else, but I am fine with my life. It is a mental state I have arrived to and I hope that many people get to this place at some seasoned level of their life for the sake of finally finding inner peace and acceptance of ones self according to the ability of all they've been able to give so far, even if they desire to go back and relive past events or change mishaps. I pray they are okay with what can not be changed. I...have become okay. 

I am fine with my past, my present, and I am excited for my future because I learned a little while back that God, without a doubt, orchestrates everything happening in my life, even when I think I am making decisions for myself. See, when you are obedient to a spiritual comforter and guide, you are not really engaged in decision-making on your own. You are in partnership with your gut, your intuition, and the energy that surrounds your thoughts and the energy given off of by the people you come into contact with. 

I am fine with every person who thought, or still thinks, of me as strange, too unique, and too different. I am glad I was comfortable in my skin, with my unique appearance and not in a state of mind to want acceptance from people by being a "pleaser". I was fine not following the crowd and I was never afraid to go against the grain. 

Surprisingly, this can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for people. But then again, I was always in the wrong tribe, around the wrong community, those who did not really understand, and that includes close friends and family. I learned that my community is the tiniest of all human sectors on the planet, a remnant of spiritually connected loners who see the world not just in the natural but through supernatural sight, dreamers and visionaries often times disconnected from reality, but "see" mostly everything. The masses, most of them, can not see and they should not be expected to. 

When I was a little girl the only person I wanted to be was Whitney Houston and by her I learned to sing really well. I had an expectation and vision for what I believed my music career would be because, let's be honest, I had, and still have, an amazing voice and was talented in dance and choreography, among many other things. Education administrators saw me and said, "She is going to be someone someday". I thought life would happen like how I saw it happen for Whitney and other artists. Then I met a little girl by the name of Brandy when I was 10. We immediately became best friends. Truth be told I was the only person who enjoyed her constant singing while other classmates were always telling her to shut up. Having a friend like me at that time was a saving grace when looking back in hindsight. We walked hand in hand, spent all of our school time together and participated in drill team for a couple of years. We were both naturally loving and affectionate toward each other. Kindred spirits for sure, but not really knowing this as children. When observing many of our classmates and their attitudes toward Brandy I learn something about how my brother and I were raised. We were loving, non-judgmental, and never harbored jealousy towards any of our friends. I believe Brandy was able to detect these qualities in me and therefore latched on like Elmer's Glue.  

As an adult I reflected on our childhood and thought about what was the same in our lives and what was different, how we both desired a life in music, but it was the differences that determined the outcome. Brandy was not shy at all, while I was. I was the quiet friend who allowed her to be who she was while I never made mention, ever, of me having the ability to sing. She was a star then and without a doubt she knew she would have her own television show and that one day she would meet Whitney Houston, her greatest inspiration. The confidence she had in the certainty of her destiny stemmed from her mother Sonya (really, both her parents), a women who at times seemed overly controlling and determined, but was Brandy's greatest cheerleader, supporter, and career guide, even if Brandy did not always want her to be. 

However, the mother issue was a sensitive subject for me and I realized way later in life that the maternal void I will forever carry to my death plays a huge role in the level of confidence I have in living my life. Now, I had confidence in other areas because whereas many do not grow up with their fathers, my father was an amazing single father who was like Willie Norwood, a musician, church organist, bassist, and saxophone player. He encouraged me to sing in the children's choir and knew I had a gift before I even knew I had a gift, yet I was so, so shy. But, imagine being 7 years old and people always expecting you to have a mother and finding out that she died in a tragic car crash. Things are not supposed to be that way right, and even more so no one is raised by a single father. That was literally unheard of during my childhood. So, I was automatically made to feel like an outcast very young, made to feel a sadness that contributed to my shyness. I also felt ashamed, imagine that, for not being "normal". Eventually I made the connection that my quiet observance and shyness was due to the facial expressions going from normal to shock and worry, expressions which remain etched in my mind today. Quite frankly it makes me really mad because it was impressed upon me that I was unlike everyone else and that caused me to withdrawn internally and become a loner even as a kid!

I can be honest and say that this is not easy to write about. I am not happy about being born into a family that did not know how to cultivate talent. My twin brother who is a two time Grammy nominated music producer and songwriter made the choice to not create music with me for a reason I don't know. My whole life from childhood until now I searched for an advocate hoping they would see everything they needed to see in me and then propel me to the place I needed to be. I mean, my parents were not here to do it and I know for a fact that if my mother had lived my life would be completely different. I thought perhaps, I would find that advocate by going back to school to receive my free education afforded me because I was a ward of the court. Fours years later, after becoming a double graduate in 2019 and 2020, with two associates and a certificate in Fine Arts, Music, and Commercial Music, I found nothing, though I gave the best effort I could give. But, while studying music I learned something that I am fine with knowing. I may never attain what I desire in the realm of music. When I looked at all the examples present in the world, I saw that there was a formula and that formula was and still is a strong family and supportive unit. It's the formula of "seeing and believing". This became clear to me some time after discovering Billie Eilish. I looked at the O'Connell family and thought about how similar we were raised. I saw in Billie and Finneas a surety that can only be had by how Maggie and Patrick raised them. Then I worked my way backwards and thought about how Justin Bieber's mom, although a single mom, recorded everything he did, took him to meeting after meeting, advocated for him. I thought about The Jacksons, The Carpenters, The Osmonds, and so many groups that were family entertaining groups. Then I went back to the very beginning to someone I knew personally, Brandy, and realized that there was always someone there carving a path and that was her mother. With a cornerstone like Sonya Brandy's voice, personality, and outspokenness flourished from the very beginning while my abnormalities caused me to become the complete opposite. After contemplating these revelations I understood that no one advocated or carved anything for me, not as a child or an adult. I have been more ignored, rejected, and made fun of, which I am so used to that I expect it. My father did his best before he unexpectedly died when I was 14. I did ask if I could take singing and dance lessons around 8 or 9, but I don't think he wanted to pay for it. By the age of 10 I at least had the opportunity to participate in military drill with Brandy, and when I was 15 I put myself into my very first ballet class. Yeah, pretty late to be starting but I was a late bloomer anyway, which also made me feel awkward in comparison to others. 

Now a college graduate in 2020 during a strange time in the world before an approaching election I can say that at 41 years old I am fully awakened, I know it all (not in the way that God does), and I am fully found. I understand that I have nothing left to do but to put my art in the world by my own efforts whether I am helped, supported, or advocated for or not. I feel like Emily Dickinson at this point, like I have mentally retreated from what is sucky about people and although unfortunate, I am sad to say that majority of people are not insightful at all, nor do they have the ability to "see". Speaking of "seeing" let's go back to Billie Eilish for a moment. I don't think people really get how instrumental Finneas was in catapulting her career and I don't just mean him being her collaborator. What I am saying is that Finneas had the ability to "see" something in his sister that made him want to make her a star, her personality, her unique style. This flies right over people heads when he mentions this in interviews and I adore how he gives Billie very intense looks into the side of her face when she is speaking. It's the look that says, 'I really know you sister'. Half of the time I don't think Billie is even aware. When you think about it, it was his desire to pursue music heavily and his reaching out to music makers and managers he loved that brought about the connection and we all know the rest is history. 

Over the years and very sporadically, I would run into Brandy at recording studios when I was with my brother writing songs. I always had some project with me whether crochet or making jewelry. Each time it was like old times, reminiscing about drill, doing old combinations (that is what they were called), her checking out my crafts. Then one day she pulled me aside and quietly asked, "Oh my God, can you sing?".  Smiling, I shook my head and said yes. Then she turned around to my brother and asked him the same question. He laughed and said yes. She just stood there wide-eyed and open-mouthed in humorous surprise. 

It's been a long time now since I've seen her and there is always a possibility that someday again I will. I love her dearly and miss her based on childhood memories. I miss that closeness with someone like her and the few others I have been kindred with. 

I am fine, though. I am fine with all things because I am still alive and breathing. I have my health and I have all the things I have accomplished that makes me proud of what I have done. Famous or not I have treated myself like the celebrity I am and I can count on one hand, the people who have really gotten me. I am ultra talented, meritable of all I have received, scholarly, and born to two genius parents who left a legacy within me. I know that this period in my life is the best time, that I have the ability to still carve out a great path for myself and give to the world all that I am until I am no more. With the help of God who has never failed me I can do all things through my spiritual and supernatural strength. I have experienced many miracles and I know there are more on the way. I feel it. That's all for now. Heart's joy wherever you are in the world. 

Legendary Hitmaker Babyface Cover's Billie Eilish's "my future"

THIS. IS. EPIC. Legendary songwriter, producer, and hitmaker, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds recently covered Billie Eilish's "my future" with his 12 year old daughter Peyton for a virtual school event. In his own words he stated:

"First things first, my daughter Peyton and I love us some Billie Eilish...and since we were asked to do a song together for a school event this past Saturday it only made sense, that she'd wanna do a Billie Eilish song. So for sheep-doodles and giggles, we went in the studio and recorded My Future... and also shot this little video on my IPhone." IG: @babyface

I love Billie Eilish too and when I saw this video roll through my Instagram feed I was wide-eyed and all smiles, but also perturbed. 

It's no doubt that having Babyface for a father, the adorable Peyton would be bound to come out with smooth vocals of her own, which she has. The video itself is fun, bright, and joyous with the perfect Babyface aesthetic all throughout the music, including his own falsetto background vocals that sent glitter flying throughout my body! Jesus! That man's voice. And perhaps the blond kid was a cousin or classmate. He added to the vibe as well. 

Yet, I was jaded. I mean, this is the man who gave us Toni Braxton and numerous collaborations from Mariah Carey and Boys 2 Men, Brandy, Tamia, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight, Babyface and Madonna! "Take a Bow"!, Whitney Houston and so many more. And let's not forget his own masterpiece, Grown and Sexy, which I played on repeat for a year straight. There is nothing like picking up a new release while on a road trip and playing that same record for 28 hours straight. Grown and Sexy will always connect me to that time and the magical beauty I witnessed driving through some of the most amazing countryside. 

To say the name Babyface is to also think of Diane Warren, another world renowned songwriter he shares the ranks with, ranks that clearly showed in the comment section of his post. There lied replies from stellar celebrities, from supermodels to label executives, Naomi Campbell, Holly Robison Peete, Tommy Mottola, Kris Jenner, just to name a few. Even my sweet angel Brandy, who shares my fan page with her angel sister Billie, sealed the deal with her red heart, an artist Babyface had always been a huge advocate for showcasing her on many tracks as the primary vocalist. The who's who of all who-isms was present. What was not present were Billie Eilish fans. 

I scrolled for a while, admiring plenty of blue check marks, but could it be that I was the only fan account excited about sharing this rendition, and commenting to let it be known that Billie stans were in the place to be? Yeah, I like showing off for the people I am passionate about and if I were Billie, or any artist for that matter, and Babyface covered one of my songs I would be laid out on my back staring up at the ceiling for a week in disbelief. If I were a fan I would be even more stoked about someone giving Billie her flowers while she is alive to receive them, showing her all the love in the world. But hey, that's me. My main thought was really about the fandom as a whole, and I get it, this could all be purely generational. But let's just say I was not 1,000 years old and I was 16 and I ran across Billie content of a random guy and his daughter covering her song, but I did not know who they were. After seeing a comment section of major celebrities I would want to know who this person was and then look into it. 

Unfortunately, there are biases within the fandom where younger stans judge older stans for even having accounts. Also, if Billie content surfaces by someone the fandom does not know, they are ignored and no re-posting takes place. Doesn't seem fair really. And let's be honest, younger stans only know who older celebrities like Julia Roberts and Naomi Campbell are, because Billie has mentioned them repeatedly and has taken photos with them, and I am not going to lie and say that I knew who Rosalia, Jessie Reyez, and Denzel Curry were before Billie made mention of them in her interviews. That is the beautiful gift she has and one of the reasons I love her so much, the gift to blend many generations into one musical construct. As a 15 and 16 year old I was stunned to see how much she related to the music and culture of my time. But then again, Billie does have older parents and also, she is an old soul. So if I am able to connect myself to Gen Z artists as well as music from my childhood, younger stans should be able to make that connection as well. You love on who's loving on the the one you love. 

Overall, I would have loved to have seen Billie stans show up and show out in Babyface's comment section, not just to show him love, but to show all the love to his 12 year old daughter who holds a love for Billie just as much as most of us in the fandom does. 

The full video can be seen on Babyface's Instagram @babyface. What a beautiful visual I have of them having a blast in his home studio recording a song by an artist they both love as parent and child.