I have to admit something. I’m a bit of a hypocrite. Thus, this is a reflection that I am sharing with you as I hear the inflections of Samantha Harvey in my earbuds. See, there is a part of me that gets annoyed at people when it comes to the craft that I practice. Writing for me is serious business—it is both a purpose and a passion. At the risk of sounding conceited, I can say with a high degree of confidence that what I write is unique for I present analysis based on multi-dimensional assessments instead of parroting dogmas and ideologies.
So there is a part of me that always gets vexed that hacks who are employed by the mainstream media—supposed writers who grace the OpEd sections of the New York Times or the Washington Post for example—get an ovation worthy of Imhotep as they regurgitate unoriginal thought and shallow articles. Perhaps it’s a bit of envy I suppose; but really I think it’s more of an annoyance at the fact that people conflate fame with knowledge and confer wisdom upon those who are accepted by the “system”.
I’ve written two books and between the two I’ve sold about 100 copies. I’m not complaining; I’m grateful actually that 100 people were kind enough to support me in my endeavors. But let Oprah “bless” me with her acknowledgement or let CNN run a story about one of my books and all the sudden there would be a line from here to Uzbekistan of people frothing at the mouth to get a copy of one of my books! This thought actually perturbs me; nothing would have changed between anonymous Teddy and the discovered Teodrose other than the fact that some rich patron discovered me the same way that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America.
Ah but today served to reveal my own hypocracy; as I was listening to some music on YouTube earlier while writing the “Obama to Trump” article, I decided to listen to a couple of songs by Whitney Houston. Music is my potion in this way; the same way that Popeye ate spinach to get super human strength is the same way I pop melodies into my ear drums in order to get a kiss from Serendipity between my synapses. Oh snap! All the sudden a song came on by Samantha Harvey as she was performing a cover of Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You” that made me pause to check out the person who accompanied the voice.
Now as a golden rule, it is best to avoid singing one of Whitney’s songs. Trying to do Whitney is like me trying to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Whitney is in a league of her own and trying to join her strata usually doesn’t work out to well for too many singers. But Samantha though was holding her own. I’m not about to say that she outdid or even sounded exactly like Whitney for that would ruin my journalistic credibility the minute I even tried to make that argument–nobody will ever sound like Whitney may God bless her soul. But I found myself listening to Samantha’s rendition of Saving All My Love multiple times—I was impressed each time I heard her voice.
There is one way to differentiate an also-ran from a legit singer. Let them sing without the benefits of a studio or sound engineers. The same way I mentioned how some hacks are conferred greatness simply because they write for the New York Times is the same way singers on major labels are adored by the masses even if most of them could not sing their way out a wet paper bag submerged in salt water. Katy Perry’s “Roar” would probably sound more like a croak if she sang in person without the assistance of a high price sound board behind her.
I realized my own hypocrisy at that exact moment of reflection. I am guilty of overlooking the talents of amazing singers as I focus most of my writing on established stars and bankrupt politicians. One of the core missions of the Ghion Journal was to highlight the people who rarely get the accolades even as they toil in the shadows making a difference in the communities where they live. Instead, I write about the same gnomes who are showered praise by our vacuous fourth estate. I become the same thing I criticize by spending too much time either bashing the political idols or highlighting the talents of singers everyone already knows and who don’t need my help to begin with.
This is the trap and allure of fame. The truth is that as much as I try not to sell my soul for the sake of recognition, I do so by default because I know that articles I write about lesser known people will not get as many clicks as the articles I write about the uber famous. I am guilty, though on a smaller scale, of the very same things I bash the mainstream media for. In the chase for quantity, it is easy to sacrifice quality and the matters of the heart. This is the corrosive nature of fame and those who want to be famous and why social media is ruining civility and public discourse. Everyone is in a rush attain eminence and to hog the spotlight.
Let this article be my reminder and perhaps a gentle nudge to all of us. Instead of chasing the famous so that we can be famous by derivative, let us commit to acknowledging those who have talent who are right next to us. The talent does not have to be just voice for all of us are blessed with gifts that can make a difference if we only realize that it’s better to be kind and graceful to our neighbors than it is to be famous.
Thus I present to you the styling of one Samantha Harvey as she performs her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love”. Going forward, I shall write about the lesser known who have more to offer than glamour and glam. I ask you, the reader, to take part in this venture with me and forward YouTube videos you find of people doing covers of songs or, better yet, record a video of either yourself or someone you know with an awesome voice and forward that video to me at email@example.com. See how the inflections of melodies can cause a much needed reflection—this is the power of music. #SamanthaSerendipity
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ~ Aldous Huxley
If you enjoyed this write up and appreciate the sounds of Samantha Harvey, share this article on social media using #SamanthaSerendipity. Check out Samantha’s video below and make sure you LIKE her page on Facebook by clicking HERE or on the picture below her video and follow her on Twitter @samharveyuk. Make sure you check out the video at the bottom titled “Cover Lover” it is my homage to singers who are not uber famous but are UBER talented.
This is a Ghion Cast paying respect to the lesser known but the highly gifted singers all around us.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.