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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.