It was just over a year ago that I started thinking about how I would begin to explore my ancestral roots in Barbados. My late great aunt Lillian left our family a jewel; a small black and orange paperback book bound with rope, filled with journal entries from my great-grandmother Edwina Yearwood and her father (my great, great-grandfather) Edward Yearwood.
It certainly would have been easy enough to center a trip to Barbados around documents and paper, but the more I started to investigate the yearning to return to my ancestral roots, I realized that I was looking for more than names, dates and birth certificates. I was in search of finding my own voice in the echoes of my family lineage. I mapped out a plan and I wanted music to be the vehicle in which to tell the story of my self investigation and exploration.
Once I discovered, applied and was accepted to the Fresh Milk International Artist and Residency in Barbados, I knew I had a safe and trust-worthy platform to express my truth and collaborate with artists of various disciplines who are searching too.
Before I continue, I must add, that my best friend Sasha Link, a non-fiction creative writer accompanied me on this life changing journey. During her residency here at Fresh Milk she is creating lesson plans to present to primary and secondary schools in Barbados. She is exploring the duality of gift-giving.
I decided to center my musical compositions on three themes: identity, self-acceptance and home.
Below are reflections, thoughts, prose and visuals around the three themes, complied during the first week of my residency:
Identity: How do you know you?
Home: “Keeping Things Whole” by Mark Strand
This is one of my favorite poems. It gives me the courage to race into the light, accept change, embrace my destiny and feel that no matter how high I fly, there is always home, a place of comfort, where I can land with my feet firmly on the ground.
Keeping Things Whole
By Mark Strand
In a field
I am the absence
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
I move to keep things whole.
Self-Acceptance: The weight of its conception spilling over into the noisy abyss yearning for a space to embrace the lore of its perfect design
Each theme is a collaboration of various creative disciplines.
Below are photos of our collaborative workdays.
Identity: Adrian Green (Spoken-word Artist)
My initial sketch of the “Identity” performance set w/ Barbadian spoken-word artist Adrian Green.
He says his work has been described as controversial because he addresses themes such a race and politics that aren’t openly discussed in the conservative Barbadian society.
I decided to incorporate standing mirrors into our performance.
The mirrors represent: reflection, confrontation, acceptance, rejection and illusion
Adrian Green will be the first ever male spoken-word artist that I’ve collaborated with allowing this exploration of identity to not only cross culture, but gender as well – he from Barbados, I from Boston.
The delivery of the spoken-word pieces will be directed at the mirror and other times, Adrian and I will be facing each other.
Home: Sky Larc (Filmmaker) Janelle Headley, Vocalist and Operation Triple Threat (OTT) Director, Tara Jane Herbert (OTT Choreographer and Director of Ascending Stars) OTT students Johari Taitt, Kwasi Perry and Charlene Morris
Self-Acceptance: Nexcyx Band
For this collaboration I brought in an original song entitled, “Pretty Girls” that I started writing back and Boston. Mahalia, the lead singer from Nexcyx wrote a second verse to compliment my first verse.
For more on Shea Rose: Boston to Barbados visit her blog: www.myangelwearsafro.org