Sunday, 25 April 2010


"If you know who you are, you will not answer by who you are not…." Moi

The past couple of weeks, the word identity has been popping up wherever I turn. The word came up again when Isa Agape was teaching at the Rockhill Music Workshop for singers and songwriters.

I have not been watching the current season of American Idol not because I think the artists are not that great, no! I lost interest after the Fantasia season. I however tuned in yesterday; there was nothing else on the box and it’s interesting to see the judges argue amongst themselves about what style or genre of music each one of them think or assume an artist should follow. I never understand these competitions anyway because how do you determine what is good and what isn’t when it comes to creativity? How do you sit behind a long table sipping coca cola through the three minute or less rendition, and make a decision about what artist you think will be ‘huge’?

I have since learnt that these shows are just about pushing the agenda of a record and TV production executive; huge bank balance. No more, no less. One of the ways they are able to pump up that balance is market to millions of young people who are impressionable and are at that early stage of trying to find themselves. The need to be loved and heard will drive anyone to identify with a product that seems to affirm them or give them a sense of comradeship with a community of fellow human beings who are also searching for themselves.

Speaking of young people, flip open the newspapers or tune into any news channel, you will find everyone talking about young people and violence. Sometimes I wonder why the madness and why are young people so angry? What is fuelling the rage? Is it the need to be loved and heard? What would make someone in their right mind take the life of someone else? Is there a link here to identity crisis? Just thinking out loud.

The question of identity is not just waiting be answered in the artists or creative circles only. Everyone and I mean everyone is screaming to be heard and noticed. One of the things I enjoy doing is eavesdropping on people’s conversation. When I am at work, typing away and punching the numbers I tend to listen to what people are saying and time and time again when two people are engaged in a conversation, the listener is almost always sitting on the edge of his or her seat not because they are paying attention to the other person and listening to what he or she is saying but because they are waiting for breath catching moment and an opportunity to get their word or two in. Everyone is talking but no one is listening.
I came across the amazing James Mraz yesterday, and he said something really important in an interview.

‘Ten years ago, I thought, I can’t wait to be signed so they can tell me what to do. They will give me a bus, give me tour so I can sing. You then realise, that doesn’t happen. They are waiting for you to say, this is what I’m going to do, this is how I am going to do it and this is what I’m bringing along and the minute you say that, everyone is like YAY! Let’s go!

I had to rewind that statement a few times.

I find that people who know who they are, are the ones that inspire others. The minute you sort out in yourself who you are, others will follow.

Who are you?

Thursday, 8 April 2010

I am Accepted

I picked up the Stylist yesterday; for those who don’t know what that is, it’s the free London fashion and travel magazine. An article by Dawn Porter on Self-deprecation caught my attention.

“In recent times, I have insulted myself approximately eight times in the hope that the people I was trying to impress would like me”

I totally identify with her opening statement and while I may not out rightly agree to the term ‘insult’ I have, numerous times tried to make others feel better about themselves or less intimidated by me by belittling (yeah, that’s the word, belittle) myself or my gifts.

Compliments such as ‘your hair looks beautiful’ is met with responses like ‘Oh, I just had it cheaply made from some local salon in my area’ when a simple ‘thank you’ will suffice.

For some strange reason self-deprecation is seen as an attractive quality. Some think it is synonymous with humility or modesty and for those who have spent a bit of time in the church, they defend their action with Romans 12:3

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

Belittling yourself so that people accept you or to make you less intimidating goes against all the ideology of being created in God’s image and after his likeness so that scripture CANNOT be about self-deprecation or undervaluing one’s self.

So, I decided to do some digging and found from the Amplified translation of the bible, the statement not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think is interpreted as not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance

AHHHHHH! So there you go, it’s not that we should not have an opinion about ourselves, it is that those opinions about us should not be inflated, overstated and I dare say, understated. In other words be true to yourself.

I am currently reading the number one book on human relations; How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie and I cannot begin to tell you what an eye opener this book has been. I recommend it to all Pastors, leaders, business people actually, everyone should read this book, with over 16 million copies sold, it would be ridiculous of you not to find out what the ‘excitement’ is all about.

Since Faith without works takes me nowhere, I decided to put one actually, two of the principles in this book to practice.

Give honest and sincere appreciation

Become genuinely interested in other people

A lady I work with and I seem to always be at loggerheads over one thing or another and the only thing that’s held me back from giving her something to go home and cry about, has been the fear of my P45 (blame it on the recession or is it credit crunch now) so, what I always do when I need any reports or files done is send an email flooded with sarcasm and cynicism enough to sink the whole cyberspace!

A few days ago, I got talking to her and this time around, paid attention to what she was saying (as opposed to drifting away in my thoughts and wishing her to shut up!) and from our conversation, I learnt that she had enrolled to start taking sewing lessons. I grew more interested since I was a creative head myself and encouraged her to really go for it. Not just that, the next day, I walked up to her desk and gave her a yard off some African Print fabric I had at home. Yeah, I know!
You should have seen her face when I gave her the fabric all wrapped up, I even got a hug!

Aaaaaaaaaawwww, I hear you say, but really, it got me thinking about how easy it is to relate to people once you get to know them. Once you take the focus off yourself, you begin to see with a different eye.

I think there is a link between how we see others and how we see ourselves; the latter influences the former and unlike Dawn Porter who thinks that self-deprecation is an intuition, I think it’s a cHoIcE.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

WOW! it's the 1st of April... Already?

I can't believe it's the 4th month already! I feel like starting this piece like one of the chapters in the bible; 'IT WAS THE 4TH MONTH IN THE YEAR THAT PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN REIGNED' LOL!

Well, it's been an interesting year so far and it's about to get even more interesting because on the 17th of April 2010, Rockhill Music will be holding a workshop for singers, songwriters and musicians at The Albany Theatre. Sharing her experience and providing practical tools for a successful artist is the Philadelphia born Isa Agape. She took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to talk with me about what to expect at the workshop and a few more interesting stuff.

Where do you write?
That's a good question. I actually write a lot of my music in the privacy of my room. Its rare that I will write a song out side of that place. But I have written a few in the studio during breaks in between tracking songs.

Why that space?
I think the reason why I write in my room is cause its private, I can work melodies out loud when no one is around.

I have listened to your third project '.. of Love & War' and I love it! what is the inspiration behind this new album?
The inspiration on the album was mainly people. I don't just write about spirituality, I write about relationships and in particular my personal relationships. So a lot of the songs are actually about real people.

You are passionate about equipping other musicians and singers like yourself, why is that?
When I first started I didn't have a "mentor" to help me understand the business of music. I believe that there is a creative side but there is also a business side, that if you don't know what you are doing can bite you in the back side. I've been bitten several times and I want to do everything I can to help people not make the same mistakes. So I created a website that helps people get to know the business side of music more, especially for those that are not signed by a label (indie or major). You can become successful as an indie artist, there are just a few things one needs to know in order to be successful as I have been.

We look forward to seeing you in London on the 17th of April, what should we expect from the workshop?
I plan on telling a little bit of my background and where I grew up. I want to cover how to go about developing a website for your music, how to use Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Youtube to promote your music and get sales, how to protect your music/copyright, how to go about recording your CD project and what you should do after that, marketing and branding, and discovering what you sound/genre is.

I read somewhere that you started off as an artist so, do you still paint or draw?
I did start off as a painter... I stopped doing that actually. But I recently have been wanting to get back into painting.

When you are not singing or writing what do you do?
I work a full time job on top of what I do with my music. So I work really hard outside of my side projects with music. I also love to hang out with friends, play cards and games, eat great dinner with family. Going to the movies every now and then is fun too.

I hear you love shoes too?
I do love shoes... Its one of many weaknesses for me. Where did you hear that??? LOL.

Thanks for your time Isa.
Thank you.

To book your ticket for the Rockhill Music Workshop for singers, songwrites and musicians pls call 0787 6541948 or 07957 466322