Diary of a Black Woman in Country Music
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"Dedicated to the memory of Gregory Peck Coleman"
January 13, 1955 - October 29, 2017

Greg... How does one express the loss of a great friendship, one of almost 24 years, with few words?

You, my friend and mentor. (Who will I now have to talk on the phone for seven hours straight-- talkin' about nothin' but music??)

You, the sower and architect of my country music dreams and quest, from way back in the early Philadelphia days. (I smile about one unforgettable evening on the rooftop of your Philly condo, as we were wishin' upon a star... We were mimicking the iconic scene when 'Jack and Rose' - but for us it was a nonromantic kinda thing - were "flying". We'd been so revved up over our conjoined 'titanic' dream of which we hoped to give exciting wings one day: transforming my life into that of a major Country music star, and with you at my side as a managerial force to be reckoned with.)


You, yes, my first music manager. Your hard words would eventually meet my hard head. (One of my BIGGEST mistakes back then was failing to heed your wise direction, though it would take many years to realize.

The pages of my Diary will reveal how this profound awakening happened way past its due date.)


You, with your superior gift of songwriting, to show me the way. ( the way to NOT write six-page songs lol.)

And, so much more. All of you. Your insane humor which still brightens my cloudiest day (like today.) Your different voice impersonations while makin' business moves over the phone; the person on the other end having not a smidgen of a clue (hehe). And, that million dollar smile that still enriches my heart. At this exact moment. I keep all of you with me.

Thank you, friend, for all the love. For all the memories, many of which I will share on these pages of my Diary. My journey cannot be recounted without you. You were the very one who led me to a country road.

Until our roads meet again.  
~ Sovoya Jackson 

November 2017

Excerpt One: "Black People Don't Sing Country Music(10/2011)"
Time period: Mid 90's

Excerpt Two: "Tisss Praaak (01/2012)"
Time period: Mid 90's
Excerpt One
"Black People Don't Sing Country Music"
Time period: Mid 90's

Date: Once Upon A Time

Dear Diary,
I’ve seen a lady sing the blues,
ebony skin so fine.
But I’ve never seen her twangin
like lovely Patsy Cline.

Greg* was ever the Philly gentleman tonight, walking me home 3 blocks from his place. We'd kicked back and
enjoyed the delicious steak take-out he bought from the Irish pub down on 15th & Spring Garden. Such a sweetheart! It’s a shame I don’t have a dog because all that was left on my plate when I was done was the bone, Diary. Hey, who says a girl can’t finish a whole steak and still be considered a lady? Now, I don’t know about the girls up here in Philly but where I’m from, in Tennessee, we know how to ‘throw down’. We eat like southern ladies. We just eat all of it like southern ladies.
I do think Greg might be hearing things, smart as he is. You remember him, Diary.

He’s the one who told me a few months ago that he had invented roller blades years back. As in roller blades. Showed me his old sketches, notes and all.I believed him. Unfortunately, it was a timing thing. Yeah, he says he hadn't moved fast enough to get the darned patent before that other guy did. The one who’s now stinkin’, filthy rich! Guess great minds do think alike. It all started after we'd finished dinner while listening to music, and a couple songs by a singer named Dianne. He is producing her album in the studio. As I came from the bathroom after powdering my nose he was sitting there eyeing me with the silliest grin, adopting a sing-song voice. “Voi-eeee-yuh? I heard you singing in the bathroom, girl. How come you won’t sing for me, Voy-Voy?” I stopped in my tracks, not being swayed by his pet names for me. He knows how shy I am. I’m no singer, not like Dianne! She sounds like Anita Baker, all jazzy and soulful pipes. I told him all that. Again. I poured myself a wee bit of red wine. There he and I went on for eternity, until finally I surrendered to my insecurity. “Okay, I’ll do it!” I was instantly nervous---scared as the fattest turkey of the bunch in November! It'd been years since anyone had seriously heard my actual singing voice. I was ultra self-conscious about it.


I sipped a wee bit more of the red wine to calm my nerves and chose to sit cross-legged on the floor by the coffee table. Greg was staring down at me in amusement from the couch. Assuming the position by closing my eyes and opening my mouth, a technical glitch did occur. Nothing would come out. I collapsed on my back in laughter. I was terribly shy, Diary. “C’mon, girl...” Greg giggled with anticipation. I just picked any ol' ballad, this one called The Uninvited Guest by The Carpenters (hey I love them, Diary). Mind you, I am no Karen Carpenter either, what a beautiful voice. Anyhow, I was whining with my wine, “Pleeeease don’t look at me. Just don’t look at me, you’ll make me even more nervous!” Immediately he turned around in silence, his back facing me. Greg is an r&b producer. He is accustomed to being around serious singers with serious vocal chops. This intimidated the heck out of me, Diary.

I finally did it.



I heard the music in my head as I sang it in its entirety, knew it by heart. The imaginary sound of the steel guitar in the chorus lifted me away momentarily. My voice did quaver on the parts that called for the voice to go higher. I cringed but kept right on singing. They do say if you're going through hell just keep on going and don't look back. I was indeed praying Greg wasn’t holding back uncontrollable tears of laughter. When I finished, I knew my face was as wine-colored as the merlot bottle propped between us on the living room table. I opened my eyes, waiting to hear the familiar sound of Greg’s notorious giggles. My heart was thumpin’ out of my chest. Suddenly I felt like a little dummy sitting there on the floor singing for him. Never again, I promised myself. He turned around to face me. I looked up at him, square into his mischievous hazel eyes. C'mon, laugh, I wanted to say. He wasn't laughing. He was smiling. It was a genuine smile.

“I didn’t know you were a country music singer.” He spoke seriously.

“Hummh?” I didn’t hear him right. "Really?" I asked. "Oh, heavens no, Greg!!" But he smiled broadly, his light-tan complexion’s undertone beaming a deep rose. “Voya, you are. You have a country sound to your voice.” I wasn't confused. He was. “I’m NOT a country singer. Not really a singer." I shrugged and got it. "Aw, you’re just saying that ’cause I’m from Tennessee! You wouldn’t be saying that if I’d moved here from...Detroit.” I laughed. After moments of humorous debate (my denials and his hilarious insistance) there was a brief silence in the small room.
"You should become a country music singer, then.” He tossed the words out delicately, as if tossing a coin into a fountain of hope.

Would he stop? I was half laughing. It was crazy. There was no way. "Well, you know, I was raised on country music, just like r&b. But sing country music? I mean, black people don't sing country music. Do we?"

Yes, of course there's Charley Pride, I told Greg, when he brought up his name. He's the one who ‘kissed an angel good mornin’. Name me one black woman, though. Name me one who is a big time country singer? "Even if I were to take your suggestion seriously - and I won't - I would stick out like a sore thumb." People laughing at me, saying mean things, “Nah-heh, look at that black lady singing country music up there on stage...what's she, some circus act?”
"So??? Who cares what people say, Voya? You could do it! You like listening to it...What's the difference? And, this black thing...who cares if you are black?" He asked earnestly.

Crazy-funny evening, Diary! But hey, great food and great wine with a cool friend. I'm not really upset. I just found it all so amusing. Because I'm never going to be a country singer. I mean, I would be embarrassed...no, ashamed is more like it. I would be humiliated to be seen on any stage singing country music. I don't mind driving down the highway listening to Travis Tritt on the radio. But that's different. Anyhow, it's no big deal. Greg was just being silly. And, I got a laugh. And, it's over. 

I was delighted that he likes my voice, though. That really makes my day. He did mention ever so nicely that I could work on my vocal ability a bit and make it stronger. Maybe I will. I trust in Greg. He is a proven friend. Except for the country stuff he raved on and on about all evening! There isn't a snowball’s chance in---oh, goodness, look at the time! Must feed Calyx and Orangey! Poor things are starved, stepping all over you here, Diary, as I try to write. I’ll be sure to add a can of Seafood Fantasy to their dry mix tonight and make it up to 'em. Goodnight. 
*Name is real. Some names will be changed in future Excerpts.
Kinda hard to believe now that I used to feel that way
so long ago. It's like looking at an old photo....

                              DIARY of a BLACK WOMAN
                                    in COUNTRY MUSIC
                                         October 2011

My Diary begins with 'Once Upon A Time'. It was the real start of my country music awakenings as a singer/songwriter and with my friend, Greg, in Philly. His strong influence really shaped my life. Of course, unlike most Once Upon A Time stories, I was no princess at any juncture. Gee, sometimes no angel either, for that matter (one must keep it real). On that very serious note, it is not my intention to engage in the hurling of salacious stones at the windows of others from my past as I flip through these pages and share some of these tales with you. Besides, people living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, right? For all I know, lil’ ol’ me, I might be in somebody else’s Diary out there.
Life flies by. Years come. They go. As I put together my first website, for the first time I began to really absorb so much that happened on this journey, this quest. What ‘a trip’ it has been. I thought back to the moment of how, when and where it all really started. I pondered the many deep and thought-provoking, hilarious, sad, happy, plain ol' crazy and, of course, maddening moments I’d experienced along the way. All the ups and downs and in-betweens. I decided to share some of these crucial life lessons learned, and in an unusual way, through the ‘eyes’ of a girl’s best friend, her Diary. Hey, this is the 'Sharing Age'.

Gettin' Mad Can Be Good Sometimes!
Some situations in life can knock us down into a valley so deep we begin to hear echoes. If we have any good sense left, we’ll give them their appointed time, wisen up, pick ourselves up and shake off the dust. Then come back out fightin’ – fightin’ for ourselves, for our dreams, for whatever is worthy to us, and good and decent from up above. Life is just too short to not do so. We are all Just Like The Roses, after all. Fightin’ mad is good. It is a healthy kind of mad risen up from the ashes of bitterment. Being mad at ourselves for giving up on ourselves has a clever way of getting us busy with living life again to the fullest, of puttin' the bloom back in the rose. 

"Charley Pride is in the ‘Country’ music section of the music store, not the ‘Black Country Singers’ section." I read that somewhere. It is true. Yet, his racial identity has been a ‘slice of the pie’ in his distinction as a country music singer. He’s openly discussed many of his experiences as a black person in the world of country music, through countless interviews, articles, books, etc. He is the most wildly successful black singer in country music history to date, an industry not in the least dominated by blacks.

Black people have a well-documented history in country music. I did not know this fact in Once Upon A Time. I must admit I was plain ignorant of the facts. It is truly our music, too. One of my favorite books on this subject is by Pamela E. Foster, titled, “My Country, Too – The Other Black Music”. This eye-opening read delves into the history of black people in the country music industry, reaching as far back as the 1920s. I discovered page after page after page the many black country singers, musicians, songwriters, music publishers, radio owners, radio programmers, DJs, and more. This book is an excellent choice to learn more about African-Americans and Africans who have made valuable contributions to the art form of country music, some info documented from the 1600s. Country music is in our veins. This valuable knowledge has become another powerful life lesson learned along the way in my journey as a country music artist. It helped to shed some of my fears and insecurities about singing country music. It really is passing along the torch of music history.

There’ve been a great number of black females in country music in the past and up to now in 2011. I’ve done unlimited research over the years in keeping up with many of us. Yes, black female country singers, songwriters and musicians. To name a few, there are Miko MarksRhonda Towns and Rissi Palmer. Miko Marks has a very touching song called Mama, self-penned. It is a tribute to her mother. The song’s video co-stars Erykah Badu who plays the role of Miko’s mother. Watch it @ www.mikomarks.com or on YouTube.

Speaking of which: I don’t compete with my ‘sisters in country music', ya’ll. I don’t get annoyed, resentful or angry when I see another black woman in country music ‘doin’ her thing’. If it’s in my veins, then it is in her veins as well. Nor am I in a competition with any of them to see which one of us claims the prized crown as The First Successful Black Female Country Artist. How would the word “successful” be defined here, you might ask? She’d be the black female counterpart of the 'Black King of Country Music' himself, Charley Pride. She’d be the first black woman to make it really, really big! Her career would be “on fire”, as expressed in the music business. For example, as a country superstar, Charley Pride had numerous chart-topping hits, sold millions upon many millions of albums and has toured all over the world. He was even crowned the CMA’s Entertainer Of The Year in his heyday. A true success story!

For some black women in country music, the distinction of becoming The First Successful Black Female Country Superstar is not an important objective, it is an essential one. To each one her own way of thinking, I don’t criticize. It would be a big deal. She would make music history throughout the world. She would forever wear the crown of distinction in music history books all around the world. For me, myself and I, it isn’t important to become the first. Believe it or not. One thing is for sure, the woman who does become the first? She will not stand alone in spirit. I envision her now singing beautifully on stage. She is not singing alone. She is one of many, many in a long line of incredibly talented, black females in country music, ones never heard of and never given adornment. She wears the crown for all. Hopefully there will be more than one. One day. Anything is possible in life!
Until next time...
Love Faith Peace
~ Sovoya J.
Torch #1  The banjo, a staple instrument in Country & Bluegrass, descends from Africa.
Torch #2  The Supremes, legendary Motown group, released an album of Country music in 1965!

Click Here To Go Back To The Excerpt Guide
Excerpt Two
"Tisss Praaak"
Time period: Mid 90's
Date: Once Upon A Time
Same Evening (cont. from Excerpt One)
Dear Diary,
Calyx and Orange got revenge,
their suppertime I did impinge.
I can't say goodnight. My mind is a wandering vine. Calyx is sleeping sound after cat-napping my favorite pillow. Orange is on the window sill meee-howling at the moon. I gazed at them, both content and well-fed. Even got real salmon out of me tonight instead of that ol' processed can of Seafood Fantasy. Swear, if I didn't love these furried mystics so much...they sure enough paid me back for delayin' supper time. I discovered their surprise after deciding on a strawberry-ginger bubble bath. There, all over the bathroom floor, was a sprawling, frenetic mess of toilet paper. Not to mention the trail of a billion pieces of the white stuff embedded in my bedroom carpet. I wanted to scream. Before morphing into the Mommy Dearest of Cats, I pondered a bit of Cat Psychology 101.

They never did things like that. Poor things were hungry and acting out their frustrations. Anyhow, my mind had been in such a state of distraction as I cleaned up the cat-astrophic mess of Charmin. Greg’s voice has played over and over in my head all evening: "Country singer…why does it matter if you’re black? You should sing country." It wasn't the country part that had taken me captive. That was clearly laughable. No...it was the singer part. How do I explain, Diary? Greg, had he peeled away at a layer of my true identity? Earlier I stood there motionless, broom in hand, staring into the steaming mirror. The running bath water pounded down in percussive rhythm. The strawberry-ginger scent of the bubble bath enveloped my letter of thoughts. It was the idea of being a singer period.

Date: Once Upon A Time
Next Day
Dear Diary,
Oh, I was caught daydreamin’.
Oh, just about the singin’.
Oh, what could it be meanin’?
My mind was swept away all day at work. When Mrs. Jones stopped by the makeup counter to comment on the expensive face serum she’d purchased a week before, I was totally caught off guard. I heard bits and pieces of what she was saying---that she'd put exactly three drops of the anti-wrinkle stuff into her tea each morning, just as she’d been "instructed" to do by another salesperson. Oh, that’s nice, ma’am, I'd nodded with a polite smile. I’ve always carried a secret wish to learn how to sing...I’m intrigued even more now...Greg says all I need to do is work on it...I  wonder if... Poof! “Oh, that isn’t enough, dear? Shall I use more in my tea?” Her grandmotherly voice reeled me back into reality. I felt low-down. She was sweet as honey. I apologized and rather delicately explained that the precious drops were to be applied only onto her face and not stirred into her morning tea. As she walked away I squashed this crazy impulse to call out after her, "So, how did it taste, Mrs. Jones…in your tea?" But like we say down home, I reckon not.

Dear Diary,
Daddy said I should become a nurse, 
stop pretendin’ I could sing a verse.
Green-eyed Mama, she’s the real singer. 
Still. But. Was I, too, her dead ringer? 
I stopped by Greg’s after work today and shyly confessed about the singing idea. He reaffirmed I am already a true singer, like my mother. "Since our conversation a couple weeks ago, hm? Nice, Voya." He rested his feet on the coffee table, flipping the tv remote, then said, "You gotta really explore it, babe. You’ve got to. ‘Cause you’re definitely a singer. So, tisss praaak." I watched him for a few seconds as he avoided eye contact with me, clicking stations rapidly. Finally, I asked what that meant. He set down the remote and held up both forefingers, quickly moving them back and forth, "Tisssssssss praaaaaaaaak." We looked at the other for forever. I was thoroughly amused that he was thoroughly amused that I was thoroughly amused and that we were thoroughly amusing each other.

He laughed gleefully, aware I was half annoyed. When it was time for me to leave he walked me down the two flights of stairs---it was still light outside so no need to walk me home. And, I swear, I could him hear chuckling under his breath as he walked down in front of me. He watched until I reached the end of the block. About to turn the corner, I looked back and gave a customary wave. His broad, toothy grin could be seen a half block away. Cupping his hands like a megaphone to his mouth, he yelled, "Practice! Tisss Praaak means practice! Practice on your singing!" Ohhhh. He got me. "You got me!" I yelled back, laughing. Greg. Always full of jokes. Tisss praaak. Practice. Okay.
Okay, practice. As I turned the key in my apartment a sobering thought tapped me on the shoulder: How on earth do I do that?

Date: Once Upon A Time
Several Days Later
Dear Diary,
They say an apple don’t fall far from a tree, 
but I don’t know when it comes to lil’ ol’ me. 
I think a worm mighta stole my inner core.
Imagine that lil’ worm’s voice is gonna soar?
A marvel. I was listening to birds singing outside my window this morning when I woke up. Calyx was nestled on my chest, staring down at me, waiting to be fed. Orange was crouched on the window sill above my head, no doubt filled with vivid fantasies of tasting the birds of a feather singin' together. The birds were taking turns, as if in a pattern. Singing is always on my mind nowadays. Greg said, "the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree". My tree, my mother, has a voice that could melt steel. She offered to teach me how to sing properly a few years ago. I can’t believe I wouldn’t allow her. Her voice is drenched with perfection. Way too intimidating for me to consider at that time. I do regret that now, though, Diary. My singing voice is and always has been "cotton mouse", small and soft. I hate that. I really want to get good at it. It’s all Greg. He inspires me. He believes in me. He really does. 

Date: Once Upon A Time
A Few Days Later
Dear Diary,
I shoulda paid attention in that school choir.
Say alto, soprano, lower, higher?
Impersonator in the school choir, all I was. Mimicking the other kids who really could sing, I suppose. How else could I've passed those auditions? I was too busy countin’ the white hairs in Mr. Breedlove’s beard, I'd have to hire a hypnotist to remember anything I learned. One time Mr. Breedlove asked me to sing a couple lines all by myself. Previously  I'd slipped through due to those small group auditions he held, four or five of us at a time. I knew how to blend my voice in with the ones who could sing well. But he surprised me this one day. Why, I could barely warble a whisper. He observed me with a curious expression, then gently shook his head, as if to say, "No, young lady, not this year, I'm afraid." The other girls piped up and vouched for me, insisting I was merely shy and was actually a good singer. I outright begged him to let me join the choir. He reluctantly granted me entrance into the choir that year. Whew, I thought---made it, Mr. Gray Beard! I laughed to myself, running along to catch up with the group. 

The truth was that I absolutely loved music. I absolutely loved being up there on the stage as a member of the group. It was like a team sport. How could I not be included? Yes, I mouthed and whispered those lyrics up there during performances. Yelled and screamed sometimes, too. It didn't matter. All those other voices drowned me out. I had the spirit. But I couldn't sing a lick. 


Date: Once Upon A Time
One Day
Dear Diary,
Now, it didn’t matter at the backyard gig,
pretendin' a yellow towel was my blonde wig.
"I'd have traded two packs of banana Now & Laters for their voices! I remember those girls my age, 10 and 11, singing with the maturity of women 10 years older. I'd listen to them with a mixture of envy and awe. But I’m grown now. If I don’t have it by now..well, there is no way it's ever gonna happen! But, yeah----my sisters and I had fun putting on talent shows in the backyard. I mean, I didn’t know what I was doing. Imitating singers again, you know? Wanna hear something cute? We used to fight over this yellow towel. The yellow towel was supposed to be a 'blonde wig'. We'd drape it over our heads and pretend it was blonde hair cascading past our shoulders. Funny, hm?....hello? Are you there?"


Guess I had been going on and on. There was silence. Finally, Greg spoke from the other end of the phone line, "I’m here, Voya. Cute stories, really." His voice was patient and kind. "You got it all wrong, though, sweetie. All wrong. It was always in you, waiting to come out. It’s coming out now. I heard it the other night." I was quiet as a mouse, uncertain. He continued, "I hear something in your voice. As I mentioned the other night, you must be willing to work at it, to bring it out more and make it really good. Practice on your singing. It’s in there. Good singers practice for hours." I hung up the phone in amazement.
 They do?

 For hours? 

Date: Once Upon A Time
Three Weeks Later
Dear Diary, 
Oh, my Lord, since I’ve begun a-singin’,
I hope my phone doesn’t start a-ringin’.
Oh, my landlord might leave a little note,
"Pack up, get out. Your neighbors took a vote!"
I started tissing prak. Not for hours, though. About an hour a few nights out of the week. Devised my own method, too. I’ve written down several songs of my favorite singers. I play a song with the volume up and sing along a couple times, as a guide. I then turn the volume down and sing it alone. Think I can gauge myself this way. I assume that doing something over and over and over again is what Greg means by practicing. Guess it's how one gets good at somethin'.

Wonder how long it'll take to refine? I dunno, maybe a couple months. It's as if I'm back in the choir, sometimes yelling and screaming along to these songs. I long to sing with passion and power. This time there are no other voices to drown me out. Sigh. It's a real good thing I don’t have a roommate. They would've moved out. 


Date: Once Upon A Time
A Month & Half Later
Dear Diary,
A peach don’t fall far from a tree, 
but do tell me about about the pitch? 
A pitch plopped down far from this tree, 
rolled down to a nasty lil’ ditch!
I can almost smell it now. The scent of that wooden stage, divine and pure, fills my nostrils all these years later. Suddenly, I am back in time when I won that talent contest at the Girls Club. Was I ten? How I ever got up on that stage to begin with...? Oh yeah, some of the older girls who were the organizers heard me singing quietly to myself and were impressed enough to convince me to shed my painful shyness, and go on up there and sing a song. There I went in no time, walking across that creaky stage to stand front and center before a sea of curious, young faces. There was no band. No pre-recorded music to accompany me. There was no pianist even. I was to sing a capella.



I cradled the microphone nervously. After a few seconds I began to croon: "Friday night and the lights are lowwwww...looking out for the place to go-ohhhhh..." Immediately I could hear people in the audience raving that my voice sounded nice. I blushed proudly, continuing, "And when you get the chaaaance..." I knew it by heart. Suddenly I panicked. Oh no, every time I try to sing this next part my voice gets all wobbly and out of tune, cracks like a broken egg with messy yolk all over the place! Here it comes...I know it is going to be disastrous...but I can't run off stage...I'm just gonna to try to sing this part really well...I braced myself for the big note in the chorus line: "You are the dancing queeeen----"  Egg yolk. The entire audience erupted into howls of laughter. My face was brick red. I suffered through the humiliation and continued singing, "Young and sweet, only seventeeeen. Dancing Queeeen, feel the beat from the tambouriiiine, oh yeaaaaaah. You can dance, you can die, having the time of your life. Whoo-oo-oo. See that girl, watch that scene, diggin' the dancing queeeen..."

When I finished everyone stood up and clapped in thunderous applause. They thought I was cute and courageous. I was shocked to actually win that little blue ribbon. I won! What was interesting is that the other little girl who could sing ten times better than I was so terrified, she cried throughout her whole performance. If anyone should've cried it was me. I massacred the chorus. When it came right down to it, I was just goofing off. It didn't scar me, being laughed at. I wanted to go bike riding or play in the creek. But so many people came up to me that day complimenting my "pretty voice". I laughed it off shyly. Funny thing, years later I learned I sung a line incorrectly from that song." You can dance, you can die, having the time of your life," was supposed to actually be, "You can dance, you can jive..." I'll never forget how I felt that day. I was a 'Singing Queen' for a few minutes in life. The applause was delightful. The attention was special. Even though I messed up the song people still admired my voice. Singing all alone on stage had secretly boosted my spirits. I felt weird, though. For some reason I never did it again in my childhood.

Date: Once Upon A Time
Couple Months Later
Dear Diary,
The scrawny goose looked to the sky, 
"Look at that eagle so fine.
I sit atop this egg so green. 
Gotta really make it shine."
My face feels like dry cement. I'm listening to Dianne’s cd while giving myself a mud mask. Greg did a nice job producing it a couple months back. Sigh. I'm peanut butter and jealous. Why didn’t God give me a voice like that??? Greg insists God gave me the voice I was meant to have. Dianne's voice is the voice of dreams. She's got it all together. A strong & powerful, rich & soulful, thick & juicy, totally packaged, black woman's voice. I want Dianne’s voice!!


Date: Once Upon A Time
A Month Later 
Dear Diary,
Scarlett had beloved Tara. All I have is Tear.
Yes, as in frustration, tearing out my O’hair.
My throat is irritated. I practiced singing again tonight after work. I still seem to be screaming and yelling. Maybe I’m trying too hard to emulate some of the singers on these cds. What to do? I feel inadequate. Lost.


Date: Once Upon A Time
Weeks Later
Dear Diary,
My voice is in my body. It’s deep in there, I know.
Come out, I command you, voice, or my nickname ain’t Beau.
I’ve heard about piano. Yes, heard about cello.
Haven't heard of playin’ a voice. I-eee-I don’t know.
Angela blew me away!! She's an r&b singer at work. We heard her sing a song with the band the store booked for the big sales event today. She belted out that song! Laid it on thick and strong. She and I had a chance to speak later on and she told me something I didn't know. She told me that the voice is an instrument. My reaction must’ve sounded plain ignorant. It does makes perfect sense to me, though. The voice is a musical instrument, why, of course. Angela  encouraged me to continue learning how to “play it”, this instrument in my throat. Naturally, I didn’t dare sing for her, no way. I felt terribly insecure when she’d asked me to sing her a line of somethin'. My really great voice-in-waiting persists in evading me. Maybe it’s lodged in my toe. Yes, needs more time to rise to my throat.


Date: Once Upon A Time
A Month Later
Dear Diary,
Hey, Diddle-Diddle, Calyx plays fiddle, 
Orangey jumped over the moon.
Heard that honey or lime will help my voice.
Sounds like I’m nibblin’ a prune.
Maybe it’s my hormones. My voice is blah. Dull. I haven’t practiced all week. Greg says he hears this “quality” in my voice. Why can’t I hear it? Why didn’t God give me a voice like Whitney’s? Or Celine’s? Or something high-octane like Tina’s? I want a powerful and voluminous voice! During practice Calyx and Orange roam about observing me with their
delicate, inquisitive faces, as if to say, "Is this chick for real? What’s she doing, Orange? Beats me, Calyx, some kind of human yelling and wailing thing." I hope the neighbors don’t call the landlord tomorrow complaining about the yelling and wailing down in 1A.


Date: Once Upon A Time
A Month Later
Dear Diary,
A Chaka Khan of peons granted me some hope.
She loved my green and purple. I’d been thinkin’ taupe.
She pointed at a button, center of my waist,
“Girl, if you press that button? Shows up on your face.
Angela begged me (again!) to sing for her. Well, I have been practicing for some time now, I thought. So, I let down my defenses and did it, a few lines. It reminded me of the experience with Greg. I didn’t expect that response. She loved my voice! I was…surprised. That an r&b singer of her caliber would appreciate my voice was a…surprise. Jenna, our co-worker, was nearby putting away a box of promo lipsticks and sauntered on over. "Oh, that’s all head voice," she appraised snootily, interrupting our conversation. "I’m a trained opera singer. And, I know the difference..You’re supposed to sing from the diaphragm."


I immediately made a mental note to look into the diaphragm thing. (Ewwh, sounds so clinical.) Angela stepped in graciously. "Some of it was the diaphragm. Anyhow, it’s her soft tone I’m lovin’." I looked back and forth at the two of them. I’d never heard Jenna sing but hadn’t deemed it necessary to question her. When she marched away Angela winked at me with a dazzlin' smile. "You’re doing so good!" My confidence meter rose so quickly I almost heard a ding!  Angela loved my soft tone. 


Date: Once Upon A Time
Couple Months Later
Dear Diary,
I breathe in and I breathe out,
with resonance, right on pitch.
‘Til I was told I fell flat
by some ol' me-e-ean, evil pitch.
I counted the months. I’ve practiced on my singing for about nine months now! Long enough for a baby to develop in the womb. Something definitely has been 'born' from within my vocal 'womb'. I hear improvements. These self-taught voice lessons have even given me a newfound purpose in life. I don't know, it's like I've become a little singing train that won't stop. The only problem is that dadgum lil' flat caboose on the end. Yes, flat. As in, "I hit that note flat." It’s when a singer’s voice falls flat on its behind, Diary.


Date: Once Upon A Time
Soon After That
Dear Diary,
So, it’s not just from the diaphragm,
it is also what one hears?
Become my very own audience,
pay attention with my ears?
A mental breakthrough. In order to stay on pitch, I must really listen to myself as I sing. Become my own very audience. Hmmm. All this time I thought I had been.


Date: Once Upon A Time
The Next Night
Dear Diary,
So, it’s not just from the diaphragm,
it’s also from the heart?
That beatin’, pumpin’, patterin’ thing
has got to do its part?
Another mental breakthrough. Good singers do it with heart & soul. All this time I thought I had been. I mean,
Tina feeeeels What’s Love Got To Do With It. I wanna feeeeel the lyrics. I need to feeeeel that exhilarating love I’m singing about. When I sing of pain I wanna feeeeel that utterly depressing pain! As I've practiced along with my favorite singers all these months, I now realize I’ve been a mere outsider pounding on the door of their lyrics, trying to enter into their songs. This self-realization has sprouted a new thought within my creative garden. What about my own experiences in life? I mean, could I actually sing about my own experiences? Would it feeeeel more natural this way? Would doing so grant me the crucial ingredients of heart & soul?


Date: Once Upon A Time
One Saturday Afternoon
Dear Diary,
I am a writer of poems,
Don’t call myself a poet.
What is a writer of songs?
Songwriter, you dumb poet.
Now I know. It is a huge piece of clay to be sculpted over time. I reflected on the initial approach I had in becoming a good singer all those months ago, laughing at my baking-a-bundt-cake mentality. I was so naive about all this. It has most def taken longer than a couple months to 'sculpt' my singing. True, I have come a long way. Something else is going on in my universe. I am changing somehow. My life is changing somehow. I have a secret, Diary...I wanna sing professionally! On stage. It's crazy, I know. No way am I ready for that. 


Then, too, I have days like today. Where the living room floor is my stage and I'm singing in my own style and for no one but me. I really enjoy singing my favorite songs. Only thing is it's extremely difficult for me to create my own style when singing these cover tunes. I find myself wanting to sing them in the style of those singers. My mind keeps going back to my creative garden. There's something I want to experiment with but I keep putting it off. I feel silly trying it. I'd like to take one of my poems and...just...sing it. I don't know why I feel so awkward about it. No one's watching but God. And Calyx. And Orange. I mean, I write poetry, I don't sing it. I'm so intrigued about singing of my own feelings. Writing my feelings down in rhyme is nothin' new. But singing about them? It's primal...fascinating. I must try it. How hard can it be?

Date: Once Upon A Time
That Evening
Dear Diary,
Don’t ever, no, no, never leave a brotha all alone,
sippin’ juice & Remy Martin, flippin’ through his phone.
Some chick’ll whisper in his ear, “Hey, baby, where’s your date,
wanna see my pink Mercedes? Ain’t my fault girlfriend’s late!
Hangin' at Zanzibar Blue tonight. Red dress, red nails, red lips. Can’t decide on the shoes. Taxi’s comin’ in 20 the dispatcher said. Mark offered to pick me up. But, well, this is our first date, so... Anyhow, funny how I am becoming more attuned to the tones in people’s voices. Why is it that some female taxi dispatchers seem to have really deep, masculine voices??? I better run along, Diary. Never keep a fine brotha waitin’. Actually, Diary, never keep a Philly taxi driver waiting. You get about eight seconds to emerge and hop in or their taillights are gone with the wind. Nite. After all, tomorrow is another day.


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"As of 2023, until further notice, pages of my diary will be shared on my Instagram account: sovoyasingerandsongwriter.🗝️Instagram
Chapters 1 and 2 of my diary are available here on my site.
Flip through some pages of my musical life where my singing and songwriting began!"