Days 1&2: So You Think You Can Spit
Day 3: Dodging a Bullet
Day 4: Mic Check Group 1
Day 5: The Midst of the Storm
Monday, 11 July 11,
I got to B. Smith’s early……as usual. And habit has had me sit at the bar and have the bartender, Tobin, suggest another delicious menu item and grab a drink before I attend either a meeting or watch the competition. But nooooo not today. I got there and went straight to the restroom and got prepared to perform.
I went into the back secluded rooms where we would be held before performing and I literally sat there and prayed over and over again. I needed that energy. I needed to have God surrounding me as this was a new piece and I usually work without music but I was ready for the challenge. I was ready to put my best foot forward and see what the world thought of my effort.
Shortly after I finished praying, my partner and bass guitarist, TJ Turqman, showed up and I was even more nervous, but he helped to calm me down. We walked outside of Union Station and on to the patio to rehearse. I don’t know about you, but have you ever rehearsed with an unplugegd bass guitar? hahahah Comical! But I learned where I could get caught up and I learned where I need to focus. After several, and I mean several, runs we were set. We walked back in and I continued to say the poem over and over and over again in my head. I even made Maurice stand in front of me and listen to the poem….lol. Let me tell you, it is amazing to have a partner who is of the same faith as you because they can say things that calm you down and you understand what they said and where it came from and I thank TJ for that. I even introduced him to the “touch and agree” movement…lol.
While I waited I also helped my videographer and photographer friends, Michael Avon ( of Michael Avon Photography) and Maurice Grey (photographer/videographer), find their way. They were coming to assist me document the experience. I am SOOOOO thankful for them being there. Everyone who I wanted to be there couldn’t be there and so, like most of my life, I would not have anyone in the audience. But having the two of them there just for me meant the WORLD to me. They filmed EVERYTHING from different angles and I cant wait to see the footage. They even did a little closing interview of TJ and I after the show. Again, I am grateful for them.
So, as I waited.. I learned that one of the groups dropped and we would only have 3 teams competing and that I would be going first. WHY ME!!!!? lol. I found this out 10 minutes before I was supposed to go. Even Andres mentioned that he would have expected that I would be the last person to be nervous. WRONG! That made me almost break into a sweat! I wanted to be last. I wanted to have time to hear what the judges thought… but nooooo. I had to go out there and work the dang thing.
Time to perform. I was shaking….. and I mean shaking! We walked out there, set up our two microphones and TJ and I nodded to one another. His intro cords soothed me and really set the move. Then he went into the groove and I knew it was now or never. I had practiced the second line of the poem several times because in rehearsal I had always gotten caught up…but this was not the time to get caught up. I breezed past it with ease and said an internal prayer. The breaks in our music accented the message, like how I said ” a white boy can’t play from his soul” and TJ did a rift…comedy! I also asked the question of ” when are we going to attack the fact that blacks can issue [racism] back” and TJ does another rift, paused, then says, “Just saying”. COMEDY YET AGAIN, PEOPLE! lol. I loved the Latin rhythm he played during the car chase, and the jazz groove he switched over to during the “darker the berry” part. But my FAV was when he did the “truth is, I could love me some of her” part. There was soooo much that we both loved about the piece and I think it showed in its creation and in the delivery of the piece. At the conclusion….we were satisfied. And apparently, so were the judges. We did not get a single negative remark!!!
The judges mentioned that they could tell that we rehearsed ( and we had). They noticed that we were professionals at what we do and they even remarked about our interaction and about TJ, as the musician, actually had lines in the poem. lol. It felt AMAZING!!! It felt amazing because they addressed EVERYTHING that he and I had worked on.
TJ and I had come to the first round of performances and we had both taken notes….this would come in handy. We noticed how people looked kind of hodge-podge (sp) with their partners. We noticed that the music didn’t always compliment the poetry, and other things. I also saw this as a perfect opportunity to step outside of the box and let my musician speak. Now, if you know TJ then you will know he is all about his music but he stepped outside of the box with me and agreed. I knew that no one else would think to do that. But I thought it was a great idea for him to have a say in the issue of racism. We were granted the lovely opportunity to be a white male and a black female and given the topic of racism and it would be foolish of us to squander it away on a stereotypical performance. I’m not saying we gave the best performance in the world, but we worked our butts off for this one. Everyone would expect me to do a typical “I’m 2Deep and this is my thought on racism” poem so I had to run in the opposite direction. TJ has an opinon too, he has a voice as well, and who am I to keep him from having his say? Either way…we worked together well.
Jeannie Jones (MEOW), first of all, looked fabulous in her black and gold looking like a kitty hornet. I am so accustomed to seeing her in her turquoise but she still looked fabulous so I didn’t mind. lol. Besides, the day that Jeannie doesn’t look fabulous is the day that I’ll go play in traffic on 495 South during rush hour. Just saying. Now, Jeannie mentioned that she loved the poem. She even asked if TJ plays regular gigs, which he does at a place called Jo-Jo’s I think every Tuesday. I informed TJ backstage that Jeannie has her own guitar skills thing going on so she must have been impressed! I think they should have a jam session, but that is just my opinion. She even asked if I was a “tongue ring kitty”….lol. COMEDY! It was fun being interviewed by Jeannie. [ For more info on Ms. Meow Media herself… check out her webpage at JeannieJones.com .]
We walked back to the holding area and tried to hear everyone else who was performing. It was hard for us to hear because the speakers weren’t pointed in our direction but that didn’t stop us from trying. At least we got to send out love and support in their direction. One group went up with props of sunglasses and a book, the other had the musician play the keyboard, record it, then walk away and play the violin as the keyboard played on its own. THEY WERE AWESOME! I couldn’t hear what the judges said but the other contestants told us that the news varied.
We sat back there waiting for the news of who had won to arrive. We walked up to the mic in the order that we had presented our performances and the room went silent. Andres thanked everyone for their participation and then Jeannie stepped up to the mic to announce the winners. And the winners are…. 2Deep and TJ Turqman!!!!!!!!!! “We want to thank everyone for coming out….” Wait….no one else won? I’m confused-ed. In this moment of joy I was more stunned that two teams didn’t move on. But rumor has it that because one team was unable to perform…they were only moving one team forward. OUCH! I didn’t know how to truly celebrate that moment. I honestly felt guilty for being the only winning team. Does that sound stupid? I stepped to the mic and I thanked TJ and he thanked me….and scene.
We hugged everyone, thanked everyone….got wonderful feedback and then we hugged each other. lol. TJ’s mother even came over to tell us how well she thought we did and that she had heard us rehearsing in her house at 9am on Sunday morning…lol.
We walked around to the front of Union Station and did a brief interview for my video/photographers and then we hugged goodbye. TJ and I had made it into the semi-finals and we now could rest for 2 weeks. GREAT! it was worth all of the hard work. TJ and I had used every electronic invention we could muster during last week. We used cell phones, PCs and Macs to record our parts and email it to the other person when we couldn’t meet. And with his living in McLean, Virginia and my living in Prince George’s County, Maryland ( YES, TWO DIFFERENT STATES!)….we PHYSICALLY met up once on Saturday and again on Sunday. The rest of the time we met via the world-wide web…..it had to work and it did. I didn’t go to bed until midnight on Saturday because I was working on this piece. TJ went to sleep late as well and woke up 15 minutes before our Sunday rehearsal….lol. We still had our regular lives to attend. TJ still had to teach his guitar lessons until late in the evening while I had work and my poetry slam team meetings to attend. I even had a poetry slam to host from 11pm to 1am on Friday. Talk about dedication! I loved it and I loved working with him. So…..on to semi-finals. I cant wait to see what the next round of topics will be.
Now, I’m not saying that I will win this whole thing (even though I am definitely praying for it)…. but I do pray that I will be in finals and have a great shot at taking home the grand prize with my partner. The competition is strong and only the best will be in semis so…..root for us and show up to B. Smith’s restaurant in Union Station N.E. D.C. and support TJ and myself. I will let you know when semi-finals is! Love ya!
P.S. Did I mention that TJ and I won? ahhahahahahahaha Feels great to say it.
~*My Mother’s Daughter*~