Life is crazy sometimes. It really is.
I’ve got this tattered and desperately faded red folder stuffed in my wardrobe in between a couple French textbooks and a stack of three-ring binders full of who knows what. For fifteen years, I’ve carried it from house to house, state to state, all up and down this country. To say that it’s packed to capacity with every shape, size, and color of notebook paper and random scraps would be a gross understatement; an old overstretched rubber band is the only thing keeping it under control.
My first full song–lyrics and instrumental accompaniment and all– was written when I was about twenty-one.
Back then, all I had was a guitar I’d been trying to play half-decently and a whole lot of country songs stuck in my head. Yeah, I know. A black girl who listened to punk, but decided to write country music instead. It’s pretty random. Truth be told, I had grown up singing a lot of country music and at the time, I figured it suited my voice best– don’t fix what’s not broken, you know? Anyhow, I started writing one day and completely fell in love with it.
Over time, my style evolved quite a bit. I guess that’s what happens when you listen to pretty much every genre there is. You might start borrowing bits and pieces of things you really like, discarding the stuff you’re not that into. However, nailing one specific sound or genre was never much of a priority because I mostly wrote for my own entertainment. Though I had always wanted to sing professionally, the confidence to actually sing in front of people was never there and I knew it.
Year after year, the red folder would grow as it collected songs that, for the most part, went unheard. Outside of a very small group of people, I struggled to share them. Despite going to voice lessons in an attempt to get used to singing in front of perfect strangers, the folder continued to grow. For awhile, it seemed as though my dreams of making music were a complete bust. I mean, what singer/songwriter can’t sing for people?
One day, I stopped writing altogether. This went on for about seven years, which was a significant loss.
As someone who doesn’t always have the opportunity to share their feelings or thoughts with others in a meaningful way, writing music was a huge escape for me. Not having it as an outlet left a hole in my life that nothing else could adequately fill in the same way. Poem writing eventually became a reasonable substitution, but without touching an instrument or coming up with a melody, it still lacked that certain something.
It’s All In The Details…
Today I posted my first public song to Soundcloud. I know, Soundcloud. Please don’t laugh at me. I haven’t gone off the deep end and turned into one of those rainbow-haired mumble rappers; it was actually a requirement for a class. The majority of my time in lockdown was actually spent trying to learn how to produce electronic music– the solution to my seemingly incurable stage-fright.
After developing a love of EDM a few years ago, I decided that I’d have a go at making dance tracks if the chance to do so ever crossed my path. Well, it finally did.
Coincidentally, my first produced track isn’t EDM at all, but some other interesting creation that almost went straight into my desktop’s recycle bin after the first session; it was awful! When I tell you that producing is hard for me, I am not kidding. It may as well be brain surgery with a plastic spoon. There were countless times when I wanted to quit, pull my hair out, or freak out and do both simultaneously. However, I stuck with it.
I am so glad that I did.
In short, the song is purely instrumental, brooding, dramatic, and right up my alley. It wasn’t at all what I expected to come up with, but I wanted to just follow my emotions and try to replicate them in a way that would allow the listener to experience them. I’d love to hear what you guys think about it– even if it’s not your personal taste.
Someone asked me if I was proud of my first song. Without the slightest bit of hesitation, I replied, “No.”
Technically, this is the furthest thing from being the “first” song, even though it is the only one that’s ever been released into the wild (lol). Truthfully, I find it difficult to take credit for something that was nearly a decade in the making. After all, I spent years dreaming about it before finding the courage to actually make it a reality. Indeed, I’m not proud of it.
However, I am forever proud of the person who inspired it.
There are no words in the English language for the respect and admiration I have for the individual who inspired me to return to music; there just aren’t. I cannot name a person who better exemplifies resilience and sheer grit. The thing I love most about them is their unwavering grace and humility in the face of adversity; it’s unrivaled.
For the longest time, my greatest wish has been to find a way to somehow compensate them for the encouragement they’ve provided, but how on Earth do you reward someone for merely doing what comes naturally to them? I suppose you can’t. That being said, I decided it might be best to simply make the most of the gift they’ve so freely given and pass it along.
If you happen to be reading this, and you find yourself with a “faded red folder” of your own, I truthfully hope this story helps to encourage you. While your red folder may not be full of unreleased songs, you might have an archive of dreams you haven’t dusted off in months, years, or even decades. It doesn’t matter how you start; it’s how you finish. So, even if you haven’t had the easiest time with something, don’t give up and don’t quit. You may need a little help from someone or a new plan, but you can do it.
There are so many things that can keep us from going after the things we really want out of life. A lack of resources, a lack of confidence, the fear of criticism, the fear of what could go wrong, a remembrance of the past that we are having a hard time releasing.
What is it for you? What could you gain by finding the courage to move past it? You already know what you’ll get if you keep following the status quo; allow yourself to imagine the endless possibilities of stepping into the unknown. It might be everything you ever dreamed of… but what if it’s even better than you imagined?
Here’s to making all of your wildest dreams come true ❤
© C.M. 2020 All Rights Reserved
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