My crippling desire to be liked by everyone all the time has gotten in the way of free self-expression my whole life. Growing up liberal in a conservative place meant watering myself down constantly. I never wanted to give away my true feelings and beliefs for fear that I would alienate everyone around me in my community, or worse, lose their respect.
And there was never refuge in music-making. If anything, my insecurities and neuroses were heightened in the musical realm.
What if I was Dixie Chick'ed?!
What if I wrote a song that got too *REAL* ... expressed the harshest truths, released all my frustrations and darkest sadness, or dared to express my wildest, grandest hopes for the future, and everyone hated it and hated me and then I'd be blacklisted from every venue ever and people would laugh at me when I walked by on the streets and say hateful things and my music career would be over before it ever really began...
"Peaked at fourteen, that stupid socialist bitch!"
Yep that's surely what everyone would think of me...
And I so convinced myself of this, that I decided it was safer to shrink myself and stay away from the stuff that was too hard to talk about.
When I moved to Boston, my world grew hundredfold. I suddenly found myself shoulder to shoulder with people from Korea, Kenya, Kazakhstan and Kentucky. There was new music to hear and create; there were new foods to try, new experiences to be had. I found true love. I learned that it wasn't totally selfish and wrong to put my own emotional well-being before others sometimes. I learned about intersectionality and bystander intervention (major shout-out to the Berklee Peer Advising Program).
Friends shared their incredible stories of life as a person of color.
As a Muslim.
As a person with depression.
As an immigrant.
As a woman.
As a person who conquered body dysmorphia.
As a non-binary person.
As a queer person.
As a person who rose above childhood bullying.
As a survivor of sexual assault and abuse.
I found strength in knowing that the opinions of these fine friends was infinitely more important than the opinions of people who let their fear make them hateful. I grew more confident, armed with the power of empathy and the knowledge that I could use my privilege as a platform for doing good in the world. I was turning into a real adult who had my own valid opinions, could make my own choices, and speak my mind powerfully.
The decision to move back to a red state after college was difficult. It has certainly piqued those old fears of being my authentic self, just as I suspected it would. But I know that my fears of being accepted are nothing compared to the fears of people who have been systematically oppressed and denied their rights and dignities as fellow humans. And I now understand that because I DO have the right and freedom to speak out, staying silent makes me complicit in the atrocities committed against marginalized people and the environmental destruction of our planet.
Today, my lioness momma and aunts marched in the Women's March on Washington. My friend Christine and I marched in the Power Together Tennessee March in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington. Friends all over the United States and the world answered the clarion call for hope and decency and joined their local marches. It has been a beautiful, powerful, exhilarating day amidst several months of darkness. The work is just beginning.
I'm ready to be completely honest and open with those of you who have been so kind as to support my musical journey, because authenticity and integrity are fundamental to my mission as an artist. I'm terrified, but I'm proud. I want to bridge the divide and work together to move forward. I'm also prepared to fight tooth and nail for what I believe in. I'm here to listen to and lift up the voices of people who have been silenced for too long. And finally, after many years of hiding, I am pleased to say that I don't give a flying fuck what anyone has to say about it - thank you very much and good day!