Exodus

I remember small details from my childhood in Jamaica, before migrating to the US. I recall a blossomed cherry tree, adorned with ripe fruit, in someone’s yard. I remember the leaves of an almond tree and the raw nuts dangling. Bag juice & jack fruit. Sometimes I wonder if my affinity toward trees and plants are founded in my subconscious’ recollection of home and it’s tropical climate. And sometimes I wonder what my life would’ve been like, who I would’ve began to become if I hadn’t migrated.

We moved to Brooklyn, NY to live with my dad. My two older sisters went first. My first grade teacher didn’t understand me when I asked her to “plait” my interlocked hair that had come loose. I guess the American term that she knew it to be was braid. My accent was a strong English patois. I used to eat Kraft slices of individually wrapped cheese so much that I earned the nickname “rat”; Addressed with endearment by my sisters, dad and, step-family.

My sisters and I would spend summers with my mother in Florida until we moved there with her. My second eldest sister and I first. I remember how hard it was for me to understand the Floridan accent. A neighbor asked me if I wanted to ride her “bai-ck”.  She was referring to her bike.  Funny how the tables turned. We moved there around the time when Uncle Luke was dominating the Airwaves and I had no idea what “booty shaking” was. What was this strange music? Now, those rhythms are familiar and my hips move and my back breaks on the down beats.

I think that perhaps those four years, ages 5-9, that I spent in NY were pivotal in my development and sense of belonging. Of the places that I’ve called home since my migration, the hustle and bustle, the buildings scraping the sky have always felt comforting to me.  Air and noise pollution, a blanket.

While trying to find my place in society, I’ve begun to develop a stronger sense of self.  I fit wherever I am, the ever malleable Pisces, but finding comfort and truly feeling secure has been a battle.  Here, many moons later, I’m trying to find a true home. It doesn’t matter as much if it is my place of birth, but must be a place of rebirth.  A place where I can dwell in my absolute nakedness. It’s a place where all of who I am requires no validation and is unmoved by critique. My naivete had me seeking refuge from the world in people of the world, which is almost counter-production. Experience has taught me that people are fickle, we are all ever-changing.  Solace is this mysterious, inward hug. When I close my eyes, breath deeply, & embrace the silence around me, I can reach out and almost touch my Utopia.

What is home?  Where is home?  My journey has been arduous and I want to pack my things and go.

elementary school.jpg
Kindergarten: Brooklyn, NY,

I Joined a Dating Site

I was bored.  I deleted it 24 hours later. If they allowed me to delete to do it sooner, I would have.  I received well over a 100 notifications before I “hid” my profile until the 24-hour grace period. I didn’t even have a real bio up, which was indicative of my lack of attachment to my own idea.

It made me anxious, not only because I feared that my accessibility would somehow compromise my brand, but also because it didn’t feel organic.  I don’t want to “audition” for a partner.  If it’s supposed to be a condensed, virtual representation of the “real world”, then maybe I just don’t want to date at all and perhaps that’s what it boils down to.

This is the first time in my adult life that I do not have a love interest.  You see, I loved the same person for a very long time and the “off” times in between, there was always someone tugging at my dress, so to speak. It wasn’t a public relationship, so most people don’t associate me with him. After a lengthy period of indecision, there’s now a true void.  I think that it’s natural to want to fill in spaces and I often wonder if we date out of habit.  I shouldn’t have been on that dating site because I know, in my heart of hearts, that I am not emotionally available. I joined because having a love interest is simply something that I am used to.  My ego won’t allow for anything else and is way too often the driving source of my decisions.

All of us have our ideas about love and romance.  How it should look, what it should feel like, the type of person it should be with.  My heart is coming from a place of trauma that existed before my last lover. Recognizing that is half the battle.  Another fraction is figuring out what to do with the trauma as I go about my day-to-day life; Trying not to project, trying to give myself and others a fair chance, and trying not to enlist in the fear.  Right now, decisively, being fair to myself is standing back and allowing myself to take care of myself and that may not involve catering to the longing for romance. I’m trying—going— to be okay with that.

So, I joined a dating site and realized that I’m not ready to date.

“Do for Love” – The Visuals – Behind-the Scenes

A few weeks before sitting down and creating the storyboard/video treatment for my latest single “Do for Love”, one of my favorite artists began releasing videos from her, at the time, forthcoming album. Upon seeing the first video “Django Jane”, I was so inspired that I sent the link to award-winning director/cinematographer, Luner Eugene of Lunerversal Film. I excitedly explained how much I LOVED the imagery, especially the lighting! Janelle Monae can do no wrong. He shared my sentiments and revealed that he knew exactly where we could shoot, that I would love it.

We met at the location and it was a dream! I couldn’t believe how perfect it was. I have always had an affinity toward Old Hollywood Glamour. It isn’t Marilyn Monroe for me, although the location has tributary photos and memorabilia of the actress at every turn. The appeal is the purr and rebellion of Eartha Kitt. Dorothy Dandridge’s sensual and playful “Carmen”. Lena Horne’s grace. I imagine Lady Day’s “Summertime” on vinyl. Silk lingerie. Red lipstick. Sensuality. Soul. Woman. Goddess.

I needed all of that to be captured. To be read as Sheena O. Murray as Sheena O. Murray inspired by [insert aforementioned].

In front of my laptop, I knew that I wanted to display the duality of a woman quietly acknowledging and then dismissing her own desperation. I wanted to pay tribute to coveted aesthetics that existed long before I did. To pay homage to empowering black women who transcend space and time, whom I saw myself in. I wanted to respect my own artistry by authentically expressing my layers.

“Do for Love” is essentially a song about self reflection. “Oh my, oh my, who have I become?” is the triggering phrase that causes my subconscious to materialize. She is me with my Afro, minimal makeup, almost in my birthday suit. This is the part of me that occasionally wants to be free from my own desire to be adorned, whether it is with jewelry and makeup or with a lover. This other self chastises the self that fumbles over reason.

I’ve reconciled with myself that I am better than this moping and is seen in, what acts as, a throne. I sometimes caption photos “More Goddess than Queen”. I regard myself as the divine ruler of my life. I am more powerful than “queen”. This is my visual representation.

The challenge with creating this video was the budget. Experiencing my musical journey as an independent artist has the drawback of having to finance my endeavor with very limited funds. Gratefully, there are people who believe in me and my vision and we find a way to make it work, undeterred. I styled myself, did my own makeup, and was determined to prove to myself and others that whatever I do will always match the quality of my intentions. The challenges keep me grounded.

All thanks goes to Luner Eugene (@Lunerversalfilm), O’neal James, Sandra Justice (SandraJustice.com), and Chris Pope of Triple Platinum Photography for all of their hard work.

Stayed tuned for the official music video for “Do for Love” directed by Luner Eugene

(Photos by Triple Platinum Photography)

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