My Introduction to Nina Simone

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Back in 2009, my girlfriend and I met each other in Atlanta, Georgia for a weekend of fun and to get fitted for bridesmaid dresses. One afternoon, we stumbled upon the art district, Little Five Points and wandered into an attractive shop called Moods Music. I got really excited. This was the first music store I had ever gone to, that catered to my personal tastes. It was amazing! I wanted to buy the entire store, but settled for a really wonderful CD by Quadron and a copy of Wax Poetics Magazine that I cherish to this day with Gil Scott- Heron on the cover. Since I liked this magazine so much, a friend of mine, who has always gotten me the best and most thoughtful gifts, decided to buy me a subscription to Wax Poetics for my birthday. On the cover of the 1st issue I received was Ms. Nina Simone. Reading the article, I fell in love with her spirit. They dubbed her “the Black poetess of protest.” I learned that she was a child piano prodigy, was great friends with Amiri Baraka, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Richard Pryor, and Lorraine Hansberry, and that most people who came into contact with her thought she was fearless and revolutionary. They say, Nina Simone didn’t give a fuck, meaning, she was going to do her thing no matter what. I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do on this woman who had an attitude that I could relate to. I wrote and performed a tribute to Nina Simone soon after I read this, and I have listened to her music since, mostly adoring the unconventional sound of her voice and her unapologetic lyrics. We are forever connected, Ms. Simone.

Peace & love.

Thank you for reading,

Shila Iris

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My Introduction to David Banner

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black-history_feb-19_copyright-shila-iris-2017Transformation is possible. He used to be vulgar, ruled by his lower self- arrogant, over-sexed, chasing money, starved for attention, allowing Black life to be dictated to him by non-Black people at his record company. He did this until he knew better. “When you know better, you do better.”  In 2017, he is taking a different approach to African consciousness and to Black life.

David Banner is using his charm to resuscitate Black History, and he is striving to help Black people wake up. Willing to meet people where they are, he uses his own life as an example to inspire change. When you have knowledge of self, small distractions like technology, sex, and material possessions fade. Banner doesn’t hide from his past. He acknowledges his own humanity, and takes responsibility for his actions, reminding people to be humble and honest. When you bring up any of his mistakes, he smiles, laughs, and continues on in his evolution. This level of maturity is necessary on the path to transcendence. I have not known about this man for very long, but I am happy to see him boldly taking action. It’s so easy to get caught up in worldliness that weakens the spirit, but at some point we all have to lay our egos to rest so that we can survive. Always in search of good music, I listened to his latest album, The God Box. I love it. I am sending him good vibrations on his journey to push Black people into consciousness.

“I don’t care what you think of me, I just want you to think!”

Thank you for reading,

2015

Shila Iris

Say Yes

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I guess I’m going through something because I am wide awake and it’s 5 a.m. I don’t need sleep in this season of my life!  So, I am here. I loved these two together, the equation was perfect. This song is youthful, and so romantic. I love it!

Tonight, or this morning, this will have to serve as the elixir to put me to sleep.
I am a poet, so these lyrics really reach right into my soul and make me feel soft, like a woman. Lol.

“There is only one for me
You have made that possibility
We can take that step to see
If this is really gonna be…

Loving you has taken time, taken time
But I always knew you could be mine
I recognize the butterflies, inside me, Uh
Since it’s gonna be made tonight, tonight
All you gotta do is say yes…” 

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You are awake too? Peace and Love,

Shila Iris

P.S. This song was written by Marsha Ambrosia & Andre Lewis who produces for Jill Scott. Honestly, I like Ambrosia with Floetry. I haven’t really been able to get into any of her solo music. I think these two long time friends just lyrically and melodically go together. I hope they have gotten over their differences. Maybe I’ll get to see them perform one day. Peace.

My Introduction to Susan Taylor

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black-history_feb-18_copyright-shila-iris-2017The first time I picked up an issue of Essence magazine, I noticed Susan Taylor’s picture. She looked like a statue of an ancient African goddess, sort of that Grace Jones bold look, but with clothes. I read her “letter from the editor” and it became my favorite part of the magazine. Throughout the years, I have seen her with various writers, artists, activists, and its easy to see that she is loved. Taylor served as Editor-in-Chief of Essence from 1981-2000, but worked for the magazine since its conception in 1970. That’s commendable. As a woman who writes, and aspires to publish a book, I really admire Susan, and I think that she is one of the most influential women in journalism.

“Thoughts have power; thoughts have energy. And you can make your world or break it by your own thinking.” -Susan Taylor

Thank you for reading,

Shila Iris

Up Late

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Music is a tool I use to wake up parts of my soul. It is a necessity on the road to being healed. Just as much as I need those silent moments, where I lay in meditation, staring at the ceiling, reflecting on my day, my life, my story, I need the inspiring vibes of beautiful musicians to uplift my spirit and help me positively change my patterns of thinking. Lianne La Havas has been one of those lovely voices that have kept me mentally stimulated and in a positive place. Check her out:

“I’ll wait a little longer
While we are and getting stronger
I know it’s taking time to heal
We’ll be unstoppable
Don’t know what I did it for
I needed to know that it was always real…

… let’s be at peace, we’ll fly
Our hearts collide
Can’t escape the magnetic side

I was like a satellite spinning away
Almost lost forever and leaving no trace
Floating through the darkest reaches of space
To another galaxy
Our polarity shifted around
There is nothing else left holding us down
But it’s just gravitational
We are unstoppable
I just can’t escape the pull
We are unstoppable
It’s just gravitational
We are unstoppable…

… Our head’s held high when we walk down the line, honey
Arm-in-arm through the clear night sky…”

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This season of my life is all about healing. That is the purpose of this blog, finding the tools I need to bring myself out of an abyss of emotions that were suppressed for a very long time. It takes time to heal, so I am being patient with myself.  I am seeing and learning:  clairvoyance through observation.

I use this sweet music to lift me, but I have come to see that healing cannot be romanticized. When I was in a very hollow place, there was nothing I could do to feel better about love, but once I got some space and time, I began to see clearly.  My heart opened and I began to travel down the road to maturity, which in my case is letting go of anger.  I didn’t realize just how much my upbringing had affected my ability to think clearly. I didn’t realize how much I was suffering until I saw my reflection through the eyes of another. Have you seen yourself yet?

Peace and love,

Shila Iris

My Introduction to the Wu-Tang Clan

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black-history_feb-17_copyright-shila-iris-2017The year was 1997, and online music was no where to be found. Most of the world experienced solid, art-based hip-hop through Rap City, Video Vibrations or through either the Vibe, Source, Right On! or Word Up! magazines. My older brother was a hip-hop nut! He introduced our family to this raunchy, fun, yet highly political style of beat-based poetry. When I saw my first Wu-Tang video, Triumph, I was so intoxicated that I wanted to be a rapper. The intensity of the lyrics made my heart percolate! The fast-paced imagery tugged at my youth, urging me to be free. The 10 men I saw on the screen were raw and oddly intellectual.

They seemed to be well-read, open, and real. They were from another world, far away from where I was from. The beats were right up my alley. I was intrigued. The music of Wu-Tang has taught me that we can’t sanitize Black life, making it appear to be easy, and we cannot not alter our stories to please others. Life is what it is. Give it to them raw. I feel blessed to have seen them perform live. It was a fun experience. I also saw the solo performances of Ghostface Killah, and last year I saw GZA perform in Akron, Ohio. RZA had a book talk at the public library, where he shared parts of his personal life story, talked about the business side of Wu-Tang and explained his book, The Tao of Wu. These men are such heart throbs! Their ability to be honest makes them all the more attractive. Whenever Wu-Tang is in town, I will be there, no doubt. The Clan is an ultimate example of the Nguzo Saba aka 7 Principles of Kwanzaa. If you ever see me in the gym, nearly falling off the elliptical, it’s because I’m listening to Triumph, and I have gotten so lifted, that I’m in another world! Be careful when you listen to the Wu. Peace.

Thank you for reading,

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ShiLA IRiS

My Introduction to Imhotep

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black-history_feb-16_copyright-shila-iris-2017A few years ago when one of my good friends was a med student, he changed his online alias to Imhotep. I didn’t inquire about it, but in my heart, I acknowledged the change. Then, I realized that instead of taking the Hippocratic oath that students of medicine are required to recite, perhaps he decided to invoke the spirit of the true Father of Medicine. If you’d like to know about him, I encourage you to research the greatness of Imhotep, the world’s first physician, who laid the foundation for the healing arts. I’ll say this: we are forever connected to the past and to our ancestors, each and every one of us. We value their traditions because it makes us stronger. We stand on their graves and ask for guidance and offer our devotion. Imhotep, I honor You, for I am You. My heart told me to dig deeper, and I found jewels, gold, stories, hidden colors. I went above and beyond mainstream education, to find out who I really am, and now I know my worth. I value history. In this age of information, we can uncover truths faster than ever before. This is necessary, because being Black is tough. This is not rhetoric, it really is. That double consciousness that W.E.B. DuBois taught, that invisible man that Ralph Ellison described, is a part of our everyday realities. It can be exhausting, and it can drive you crazy. But, I learned, through a Master Teacher, not to give up, and settle, and make excuses for my ignorance. I need to be healed. We need healing. My ancestors look over me. I swear by Imhotep. That is my oath. Peace.

Thank you for reading,

Shila Iris

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