I remember watching Showtime at the Apollo one night at the age of 15. There was a 13-year-old girl who sang a Whitney Houston song and blew the audience away. She had such a mature voice and sang with such power. It was then that I knew I was washed-up. I was 15 years old. 15 years old and I had not been on the Apollo yet. I hadn't even been to a local talent show. My singing career was over.
At 16 I found out that Beyonce was just one year older than me. Now I don't recommend that any woman compare herself to Beyonce, especially today. But at the time I was devastated. There Bey was, fully established in her girl group Destiny's Child. I noticed that she started doing cameos on her own, so I knew her solo career was coming soon. And I was still just a normal high school student. My career would never take off. I was so behind.
Fast forward to my freshman year in college, and here comes Jill Scott. Now, Jill kind of took me by surprise. I didn't see her coming at all. And I think I was more discouraged once she came on the scene because she was everything that I wanted to be had I been a breakthrough artist at the time. It was as if my place in the industry had been highjacked. I was finished.
Okay. So maybe I was just a little ridiculous as a teenager. I grew out of that train of thought... eventually. Thank God for Bobby McFerrin.
Years later, I remember attending a Bobby McFerrin concert - an experience that I would recommend to all who are able to partake. He shared a little of his own story. It was just enough to encourage me for the rest of my life and to reignite my washed-up self.
Now this is an artist capable of singing two-part harmonies by himself and creating music using his entire body as an instrument. He is known for his organic and extremely engaging performances. He says to the audience that night that he didn't even know he could sing until he was 27 years old. 27 years old!
I was shocked. You mean greatness doesn't have an age? At any point we can start being everything that we were made to be and actually be successful? Who knew? Apparently, I was holding myself to deadlines that were completely arbitrary to my personal journey.
Jill and Beyonce are amazing. And so was that 13-year-old girl on the Apollo. But I'm not them and never could be. But then again, they could never be me. So in the words of Drake...
"oh yeah that's right, I'm doin' me. I'm doin' me. I'm living life right now man and this what I'ma do 'til it's over, 'til it's over, and it's far from over..."