Saturday, September 10, 2011

UPlift: Meeting the Legend-Anita Baker

So I have a secret. 
I had somewhat of a sheltered childhood. Music was a love of mine growing up. I was in the church choir every year. And I loved music in general. But the selection of music that I was privy to was very limited. Smooth Jazz. Yes, I was only permitted to listen to Smooth Jazz until I was in 10th grade. That's my secret. Now, I loved the local smooth jazz channel. Kenny G, Sade, Anita Baker, Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston and even Brandy were played. There were times when at slumber parties or just out with friends I'd get a taste of TLC, Monica, No Doubt, Blink 182, Green Day or Incubus. But I still loved my Smooth Jazz. You might ask, didn't you just sneak and buy music that everyone else was listening to (Jodeci, IMX, Eve, etc)? I grew up in a household led by a strong Black woman from the south. 
Plus, I grew up in a time where you feared your parents. LOL!

And again, I loved jazz. I wasn't curious about anything promoting drugs, sex and violence. Jazz was much more peaceful and kept me focused on life and adventure. All of this is to say: my favorite artist became Anita Baker. I loooooved to sing and my voice was deeper than average, like hers. I've thought about running into her here in Detroit a time or two, or five. Then a couple of weeks ago I got a text from tyi3284 telling me that she had a surprise performance at the African World Festival (on the day I decided not to go). I was cooking dinner then and cried. I'm not ashamed to admit that.
I tried to forget about missing a chance to see her (this would have been my 4th time). 
Yesterday I drove to the Apple store to exchange my phone due to a defective camera. 

Divine intervention took place, here's how:

1. I left work an hour later than usual.
2. The Apple Store had no available appointments, but I went anyway to try and fit into a cancelled or no-show appointment.
3. For the FIRST time I parked on the opposite side of the mall I usually park on.
4. I took the escalator, when I ALWAYS take the elevator.
5. I passed Anthropologie instead of going in, trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

Click the Read More Link to Read More and see the pic!

All this and then....Lo' and BEHOLD, Anita Baker in front of the Apple Store walks toward me. I stop in my tracks and the rest is somewhat spotty. These are some things I do remember:

1. Crying
2. Asking for a picture
3. Begging for a picture

I had to beg because Anita, so sweetly, declined my first advance so that people would not ram-shack her with requests. My begging turned into improv, as I pointed to a store and asked her if she'd be okay with taking it there. This request was followed by even more tears and hugs. 

"Why do you young people always do this to me?! Okay come on. I don't want you to be sad!" 

I wasn't sad at all. The disbelief of meeting her was so overwhelming! And if you've ever heard Mrs.Baker's speaking voice, it's as sultry and sweet as her singing voice. As we walked into the nearby, almost empty store I tried to pull myself together. An unsuspecting and unaware customer agreed to take our picture. 3 in fact. This part was followed by:

4. More cry-baby confessions of my love for her
5. My story: Missing her at the African World Festival
6. Her requesting that I follow her on twitter (a personal invite?) *GASP*
7. Me telling her that I didn't even know she was on twitter
8. More hugs and goodbye waves.
9. Me running to the nearest mall bench where I took LOTS of deep breaths, cried more, and called my Mommy.

This moment will forever be in my heart. Meeting someone you've looked up to as a child, teenager, and as a woman. Someone you've tried to emulate throughout life. Someone who's class is unparalleled. Someone who is PURE inspiration for you. That meeting can be life changing. I still don't believe it happened and have only the 3 pictures to prove to myself that it did. 

God knows our hearts. He knows our desires and I'm so thankful. Interesting enough though, this entire encounter makes me wonder what's important in life. Now that I've met my musical favorites, I feel as though God is saying:

1) They are just people.
 2) People can be an inspiration to you and therefore highly influential to your life
 3) I (God) should always come first.

This chance meeting is more than just a chance meeting, it's a chance to change the way I see and think about the world. Progress. I'm even more focused to fulfill the purpose I was created for.
God is truly smiling on me. I hope that I can make him proud he did.