I listen to a lot of music, so whenever I take this blog section on I have an insanely difficult time choosing what to write about. Nearly everything I listen to I listen to because I love it, and it's hard to write about things I love.
Experiencing music is, for so many, an extremely personal thing that isn't to be shared with the world. A complete stranger's ideas, arrangements, and lyrics can connect so powerfully with your life, scales and melodies tied to memories and emotions that you want to protect.
Music can represent people in ways no other form of media could.
Music can make us sad, happy, angry, and so much more.
Music can help us cry or dance or stay alive.
When I was little, I wanted to be a singer. My father could sing, my older sister could sing, and all up on my TV screen and on the radio were cool black girl singers. Aaliyah, TLC, Destiny's Child, Brandy, Mary J. Blige, and Alicia Keys are just a few of the artists whose songs I would sing, pretending to be a star.
Despite writing stories and reading so avidly during this time of my life, I did NOT want to be a writer. I wanted to be a singer; probably because the best, most varied representations I had of black women (outside of family) in my life were singers. I practiced like crazy, had this chunky voice recorder that I would sing into, analyzing my weak spots and strengths. It was pretty hard to do because I was like, 8 years old with no computer to look up the lyrics, so it'd take a ton of tries to get everything right.
There was this one album my mother would play ALL the time. It was Diana King's Think Like a Girl. I liked damn near everything on this album, and because it was played so often around my sing-along-self, I largely credit this album, this woman with teaching me how to sing.
My love, Diana King
Diana King is a Jamaican reggae fusion artist whose first step into the music industry was a feature on The Notorious B.I.G.'s song "Respect" in 1994. I was a wee baby when it was released, and my mama wasn't blasting Biggie in our house, so my exposure to Diana King didn't come from hip-hop.
My exposure came from this song:
On heavy rotation in my home for years since its 1995 debut, Diana King's "Shy Guy" was one of those songs I used to record myself singing. These days, anytime it plays, I go back to fond memories of my cracking voice and the rush of victory I felt when I finally nailed the whole thing.
A bigger rush of victory came from this song, specifically the beginning:
Do you know how hard it was for me to get the first 35 seconds of this song down? I mean, not just the notes, but the dynamics too? I went hard trying to learn it, and eventually I got it. And this song is still my jam, don't play it around me unless you want to see theatrics.
I could go on and on about Diana King, about how much I love her not only for her music but also for her bravery in being the first openly gay Jamaican artist ever, posting every last song I painstakingly learned. But I won't, because this post is already long enough. Just know I love this woman, I love her music, and I spent all day blasting her music as I sang at the top of my lungs because I was finally home alone.