Welcome. I want to introduce to you my new series of articles and interviews titled: Up Close and Personal. They feature yours truly, but the goal is to speak with other women and men that I find to be significant. I will link them in the menu bar to replace the “Stories” tab. This is the first. Check it out. It’s just about me! Testing the waters to find harmony. Smile.
THE QUESTIONS ARE IN BOLD
What is your real name? My name is Shila, but I have some aliases. It’s fun to use different names when writing, performing, or painting. Oh yes, those are some of the things that I do. Ok, so let’s talk about what you do. Honestly, I have a lot of talents and have not yet settled into one. I think as a society, or generation, we are a bit beyond the days where we worked 30 years and retired from the same company. The stability of this lifestyle can be comforting, but I am not that. I need rapid change. However, I need to maintain a steady cash flow to survive. Been shifting a lot lately to secure this level of my life. I live in America. Although I think the concept of money is full of shit, I still gotta pay bills. So how are you maintaining financially? It’s a combination of things. I have a gig and then I do freelance performance art, business writing, graphic designing, I’ve sold paintings. I wish to do better with selling my talents. My entrepreneurial side helps. Do you have children? No. How old are you? 29. Are you going to have children? What! Not sure. I really love my nieces and nephews and find comfort in them when I need to satisfy that instinct. However, I may in another life. What is your average day like? It is not a 9 to 5 type of day. It changes. I have worked very late into the night and very early. This way is better for me. My day is not all about work. I have time for reflection, exercise, connecting with people, some eating, spending time with nature like staring into the sky, walking by Lake Erie, smelling the flowers. It all matters. Hmm. Is this balance a challenge? Yes. I am learning that everything has to be in moderation. Too much or too little doesn’t work. Balance the scales to reduce stress. Have fun, but not before you give it your all. That’s nice. Is this actually working for you? Yes, but it does not exist in the element of perfection. I’m working it out. How are you maintaining your health? Herbs and holistic methods work best for me. I’ve eliminated bread as much as possible because of my sensitivity to gluten. Not much dairy, definitely not milk. Sweets on occasion, if at all. Today I wanted a Krispy Kreme donut, but I resisted. I like broccoli, brussel sprouts, green beans, potatoes, romaine salads with a vinaigrette. I cook veggies in as much garlic and capers as I can stand without becoming offensive to others… the smell! I eat corn chips with hummus weekly. If I am over a friends, I will eat a chip, but I stopped buying them. A few months ago I was adjusting to having gained 10 lbs. I was telling everyone. They were probably cursing me out in their minds because I was going on and on. I should have kept quiet. I was just surprised that one morning I got up and was much heavier than I’d ever been. I couldn’t fit my pants. I was irritated. People actually noticed that I had gained weight! Now recently, I lost 15 lbs without even being aware that I was losing weight. This happened in a month. It teaches me that I should not speak of the unimportant. I should just try to balance it all out. Make it count in a different way. My weight is not a problem. Just eat to live. No complaints. If I gain a little weight tone it up. If I lose it, do the same. I also love wine both dark and light. I am careful with the alcohol. It’s full of calories. But I like it too. Smile. That’s cool! Have you been published? Well, yes I have worked with a local magazine for a few years- articles, photos and photo manipulation, poetry, and this blog is a publication. I want to go farther with this, though. I want to do some serious editorial publishing. I want to conquer the challenges of reading. and get people to read what I write. I want to delve into the element of persuasion with the pen. What is your style of music? Oh my, it’s so much. Right now I am listening to N.E.R.D. and Kelis. In my music library you can find Badu, L. Hill, Sade, Sweetback, Gregory Isaacs, The Jackson 5, Common, Telepopmusik, The Roots, De La Soul, Tribe, Tupac, early Alicia Keys music, Esthero, Lucy Pearl, Aerosmith, Bjork and Portishead, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Amy Winehouse, Anita Baker, The Art of Noise, Asa, Nneka, Ambrose Akinmusire, Bilal, Maxwell, D’Angelo, Alanis Morisette, SWV, Brandy, Xscape, Janet Jackson, TLC, 702, 112, Donell Jones, Carl Thomas, Tweet, Enigma, Madonna, Etana, Eurythmics, Eric Roberson, Gaelle, Carlos Santana, Goodie Mob, Fisk University Jubilee Singers, Floetry, Watts Prophets, The Verve, Black Starr, Skye aka Morcheeba, Miles Davis, Musiq… and the list goes so far and wide. Lots of people have good things to say lyrically. You get excited about music? Most definitely. I love to hear a lot of the old and some new like LiAnn La Havas, Esperanza Spalding, Quadron, Janelle Monae… shit! I hesitate when talking about new music. I really have to search my brain when trying to think of newer artists that resonate. The world is evolving and there are still those out there with major talent. You have an interesting style. What inspires your dress code? It’s all me. I don’t mimic anyone or anything. When I’ve tried to be sexy or cute, it didn’t work out spiritually and it attracts an attention that I do not need. So I keep it queen-like. I’m Shila. That’s all. But, there are some artists out there whose styles I like. Les Nubians. Whoa! Beautiful. Erykah can do no wrong when it comes to dress! Nneka has this rugged look that I adore. Solange is OK because she isn’t mainstream with her dress code. I definitely dig her hair. Jill Scott has a nice look. Boy does she wear that smile! That’s pretty much it. I don’t model myself after anyone, though, especially not entertainers. Why did you name your blog African Essence? I was trying to represent what’s inside of me- the style, the story, the real deal. I feel close to my ancestors. I do not want to ever repress my true roots. I feel it in my soul. I love the culture within. I project it. I actually am at the point where I want to change the name. I’ve evolved into something else. That’s coming. I’ve noticed that you read a lot. Yes. Honestly, it has been so hard to maintain a regular reading schedule, but sometimes I have to just stop, put it all down and read… and I don’t want to read online or using an eReader. I need the book to be in my hand. I want to feel the spine, the pages.Yes! Even with magazines and newspapers, CD inserts! I like the smell. I like the physical. Any favorites? For some reason Lerone Bennett Jr’s Before the Mayflower is a book that I cherish. I have 4 editions of it. My favorite mag is WaxPoetics. Whatchu know about it!? I discovered this magazine in ATL at a record store in Little Five Points. Been in love ever since. I read mostly non-fiction African-American Lit/Black Studies. I also read a lot of books based in Buddhist philosophies, art and science rituals, things like that. What is the up close series about? I tend to open up like a flower when I am around the right people. They love that I am not afraid to tell the truth. I love that they appreciate a good story and listen so well. I say some interesting things. I am more interested in the things that others have to say, so here I am. As an aspiring writer, it is important that I take this challenge- get people to open up just like me! It’s so much better when we tell the truth… with humility. Tell us something interesting, Shila. About you. Oh wow! I suppose this is the point of it all! Ok, so you really want to know? Here it is! I do not believe in religion or marriage as practiced in doctrine. I believe in a higher connection with the Creator, Universe, and with people! It gets better than what’s on paper and in a book. Don’t hate me! Smile. Peace.
Interview conducted by the spirit of Gil Scott-Heron – haha
Gotta, gotta read. Trying to finish the Questlove book and I am looking forward to reading The Hip Hop Generation by Bakari Kitwana.