Proud, humbeled, whole…. these are the words which come to mind when I think about being part of such a rich and incredible culture.
Ever since my plunge into the work I have done on Lena I have discovered my heritage. For quite some time there was a disconnect for me. I cannot quite pinpoint what this disconnect was attributed to, yet I know I lacked that thread which made me feel part of something… and finally yesterday a lightbulb went off.
I wound up in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, watching Leslie Uggams and Mos Def performing with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. I found myself so connected to the past and the present, the classic and the new. As I sat in this space with people of all colors and all ages I realized just how beautiful life is.
I had met Leslie Uggams when I was a freshman at SVA, and she was getting honored by the AAWIC (African American Women in Film and Television). I was so in awe of her… I was also so glad to be part of such an evening… now flash forward 7 years later and I am sitting Brooklyn watching Leslie perform Lena songs with Lenas arranger for The Lady and Her Music, Linda Twine. Overwhelmed is the best way to describe the feeling… but it wasn’t a bad overwhelmed… I was just filled with so much emotion that by the time Leslie finished her set with Stormy Weather… I was in tears….okay I cried through her entire set. It wasn’t only because of the music or because Leslie knocked the ball out of the park or that Linda was there… I realized that through Lena Horne I found life, my life. At one time my life existed within the walls of my bedroom or in old movies… and now I am living. I am seeing the world. I am part of something. I am not quite sure what that something is… but it feels heavenly.
I will continue to thank Lena, and women like Leslie Uggams and poets like Mos Def, who continue to make me proud of where of where I come from. We are a community enriched with many talents and I am so glad to be someone contributing to the effort.