Finding Inspiration: Aileys' "Revelations," Ayo's "Joyful," & Felicia Pride's The Message
As a writer, an artist, I am constantly searching for inspiration. Mama needs her muses. And more often than not, the more I look, even here in this metropolis of theatrics, edge and delights known as NYC, the less inspired I become. To be honest I never find inspiration, inspiration finds me.
And last Thursday night was one of those moments when inspiration kissed me on the back of my neck. I was just totally caught off guard by Alvin Ailey's Dance Theater and their performances of Night Creature (see above photo), Pas De Duke, The River and my all time fave, Revelations. For many, many years my mom and I went practically every December but I haven't been in about 3 years and I guess I forgot how absolutely invigorating, awesome and lovely the AA dancers and choreography can be. Specifically with Alvin Ailey it’s the music that gets me. Night Creature and Pas De Duke both showcased the romantic, lyrically seductive compositions of Duke Ellington. And Revelations, wow Revelations just grabs me and drenches me in hope, passion and fortitude. By the time Rocka My Soul starts playing and the women start waving their yellow fans, I’m on my feet—exhilarated and proud.
Still feeling the glow, my soul was rocked again last night when I had the opportunity to see singer Ayo open for Babyface at the Nokia Theater. If you don’t know of her now, believe me you will! Born in Germany and raised in Paris and New York she has a really interesting sound that is part Corinne Bailey Rae, part Tracy Chapman, part Miriam Makeba. When she sang "On My Knees" you could hear a pin drop and when she finished the crowd erupted into cheers and screams of “We love you Ayo.” Check out her video for Help Is On The Way and see why I’m still lifted.
Over the weekend I also had a chance to check out Felicia (of The Backlist) Pride's new book The Message. I have to admit I was doubtful about an “inspirational” book of hiphop lyrics cause here lately I just haven’t thought of hiphop as being inspirational. But Felicia really did a supa fly job at picking lyrics that resonate on a historical, err nostalgic level, but by using personal anecdotes as a backdrop she also creates these mini “life lessons” that reminded me of the importance of partnership (“It Takes Two”) and self-esteem (“Brown Skin Lady”). The Message is sorta like Chicken Soup for The Soul but it bounces and sways. More like the chicken noodle soup dance for your booty.