singing ain’t my thing. i’ve said it plenty of times and i’m sure you all know me well enough to take my word for it. that hasn’t stopped me from singing, of course, because i completely believe in the healing powers of music. no matter what mood you find yourself in, there is a song that speaks to you in that moment and has the power to elevate you to the next level. music is magical that way.
like most of you, i have a soundtrack for each stage of my life. when i was a kid, it was all michael jackson, new edition, whitney houston, and whatever gangsta rap my cousins were blasting in my presence (don’t judge me). when i became a teenager, it was all about the new jack swing. r&b, rap, and boy and girl groups for days. college was when i fell in love with the jazz, soul, and funk i grew up dancing to with my dad and uncles. after the course of events in the country over the last two years, my soundtrack needs a more militant, in your face, rage-against-the-machine flavor.
i find myself pumping the gospel tracks to minister to the overwhelming grief of lost lives and the burden of black invisibility one minute; and blasting fuck the police and black rage as i choke on the hate-fueled words of bigotry, privilege, and racism soaking up all my air the next. i can’t breathe. i’m drowning my sorrows in the blues of nina simone and the horn of miles davis today, and swaying my hips and pumping my first because i’m black and i’m proud tomorrow. i am a mess from minute to minute but what ever state i find myself in, there is a song waiting to strum my heartstrings as if iv were the centerpiece of a masterful orchestra.
last night i had the joy of seeing stevie wonder (or stevie wonderful as india arie calls him) in concert. it. was. phenomenal. that concert gave me exactly what i needed. we danced, sang, swayed and bopped for almost four straight hours. now that’s grown folks music right there! but the thing i walked away with is music ministers to us and it’s important to have the songs that play in the perfect key for your life story. today, i’m feeling both rebellious and desperate for change. and so i share my own list of songs in the key of life.