Shea Rose & Sasha Link

June 2013

Shea Rose: Week 1

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
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
for moving.
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

______________________________________

Sasha Link: Week 1

Exploring Dreams

Dreams aren’t written in black and white; they manifest themselves in a variety of colors. They take shape and form in various sizes. Dreams build walls of hope that lend inspiration to all who are willing to fly. The letters, “Be true to your dreams” are written in black ink circled around my ring finger. Those words are like an engine roaring, a vehicle to my creative exploration.

Almost a year ago, my dear friend Shea Rose started the process of sketching out the steps she’d take to begin her journey exploring her ancestral roots in Barbados – a land her ancestors lived, worked and walked on. Shea’s vision to return to trace her ancestral roots was intriguing to me, especially considering the way in which our paths have mirrored over the years. I’ve been working on a similar project tracing my maternal and paternal genealogical timeline, with the hope to find the Link to my history. The steps to “finding my voice” as Shea said it, lit our way. Shea’s vision was a dream that opened the door to exploring the concepts of identity, self-acceptance and home. Together we’ll explore the duality of gift-giving abroad.

When we arrived in Barbados on June 10th as International Artists in Residence at the Fresh Milk Art Platform, we were greeted by Annalee Davis, Founder and Director of the organization and residency programme.  Our first day we settled in, unpacked and traveled to Lime Grove for dinner and to see spoken-word artist Rebel Glam perform.

The second day we met with Barbadian creatives, the U.S. Embassy and a host of musicians, photographers, videographers and dancers to share the overview of our project, “Exploring Creative Collaboration: Music and Identity” and “The Duality of Gift-Giving.”

By the third day, during our creative collaboration a transference of energy took place. I attribute it to being in the midst of such talented artists, composers, poets, singers, photographers, videographers — listening to the echoes of the percussion, a solid rhythm-thumping, notes on the keyboard joining in unison — music making moments filled with lyrics that tell a story, that hum a tune, that inspire.

Music is a story. I’m listening right now. It’s transformative. My father says it brightens his day, challenges and lights a flame of hope. For me, here in Barbados, I’m dreaming a story that sounds like waves smashing against the algae-painted shore walls. The distant undercurrents are whispering: “You’re not in control.” The music takes over on the platform of Fresh Milk. As it emanates from collaborative voices that surround me, I glance down at notes from my lesson plan for the workshops I’ll be teaching on the duality of gift-giving at three schools here on the island.

I’m here. I’m ready and willing to embrace each strand of knowledge passed down by our ancestors who carved the creative way for our artistic existence. I’ve learned it’s okay to dream and explore. Dreams are written in many shades; they tell stories in various forms. Shea and I are here to walk in our dream and co-inspire the world.

– Sasha

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