It’s been a while…(Personal)

There is nothing more constant in life than change. Since I last wrote you, I’ve lost two jobs; one from being fired, the other the business was liquidated. I’m doing my best to build my lesson studio, create new music, build new avenues for content to be consumed by those that need it the most, and learn more about me. Life isn’t easy. Bills, family, health, things can go wrong instantly. Nothing is certain and nothing is forever. Sometimes those words scare me. Music saved me. I used to laugh at that line before. It didn’t make sense to me. I never felt so desperate that I needed to be saved. I was looking at how “saved” can be interpreted. It saved me because it made me. I am myself, fully when I am singing, writing, educating about and with music. This is not all of me, but so much of me, that without it, I was lost. I needed to be saved from the world that everyone tells you should want. That wasn’t it for me. And music helped pave that way.

With that said, I had the opportunity this afternoon to sing at a Black History Month (yes a month late) at the Islamic Center of Long Island, which happens to be a 10 minute walk away from my home. I’m grateful for being in a town with so many different places of worship, and with so many different cultures calling Westbury home. Today, they were honoring a woman who I know and admire, Dr. Irene Betty Hylton. They also honored Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby-If you don’t know her look her up. A wonderful friend and mentor, Fred Brewington was the keynote speaker and asked if I could accompany his speech with a song. This was an event that felt like a Who’s Who of Black Westbury. But in that room, as each person spoke. I felt this overwhelming feeling of peace and purpose. A slide show played in the background. Watching Shirley Chisolm, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, all of these beautiful, intelligent, prolific women pass by on a screen made me scan the room. There were women in this room that were making Black history for their families, their communities, and their world. In a silence of my whole being, I wept, I prayed, I said Thank You to God, to my ancestors, to the universe, for placing such amazing Black women in my life. I spoke with someone the other night about being mixed, and how I like to identify myself. I told her I am a mixed race Black woman. I feel no need to qualify this statement. I am blessed to have seen all of these amazing Black women of all different shades and sizes growing up that colorism was not an issue for me. I understood my privilege, but I also understood the depth of the beauty of the Black woman both inside and out. I was reminded of that beauty when I was no longer constantly surrounded by it. I am determined to, in my life, surround myself with it. I am also determined to be like those women-myself. I realized that I know some of the mistakes that these women have made, and that does not tarnish my love for them. How can, then I think less of myself because of my mistakes if she is I?

Words; their importance and their strength were a large theme of todays celebration. I realized how important #sayhername is in that moment. Isn’t it frustrating, yet magnificent when we can become aware of something that affects us so deeply in an instant, in our own time? Think of people who you admire for one reason or another, you wouldn’t forget their name. Their name carries all that they are, because it is that name that we associate any story, memory, event, like or dislike. Our names are so important. Without them, we can be erased. Without them, we can be dehumanized. Without them we become abstract. With them, we are full, human, significant, and honored. When I say the name of someone I love, It’s as if it is a door to a memory bank of our shared experiences. This is such a beautiful thing, that the choice of not saying ones name, or changing ones name will be for me held with so much more significance than ever before.

This post seems all over the place, but know and understand that I’m so very grateful for my life, my gifts, my talents, my experiences, all of it. Life. I’m full and ready.


Language, thoughts, life

In the past month since I’ve posted, I’ve been elated with joy and beauty and then disheveled and broken. I’ve felt every emotion from love, angry, betrayal, denial, sadness, loneliness… so many emotions.

There is one thing that I’ve been paying attention to, maybe not perfectly, but paying attention to nonetheless; the words I use.

I found it terribly important to speak what I meant, and communicate in a manner that did not tear another soul down. So often insults and hate filled speech roll off our tongues and we don’t even blink an eye to them.

What does my opinion of someone have to do with ANYTHING to the point where I would speak negatively about them? Could you imagine if we got a wrinkle each time we speak badly of someone? Or gained a pound of weight?

I think in a way, we do. We send that energy, those vibrations out into the world, never to come back, only to radiate. But because we said it, we acknowledge it and we live it. That’s the problem. Why live in a world where your words tear others down? Why think negatively of someone? Especially when it’s superficial or opinions about someone?

Before you start gossiping about someone, before you start tearing another person down think of what those words could mean to you if you. Why do you feel that way about the person in the first place? Why do you believe that what you are saying is O.K. to be spoken?

Negative thoughts can enter our consciousness, but it is each of us who allow them to become thoughts and words. Think of how you could turn that language around to words that could encourage that person, or words that could change your perspective about that person.

Or, you could simply worry about yourself. You could deal with the negative thoughts and words that you create about yourself.

There’s that.

If what you said about someone else would make you furious if you heard someone say it about your child/mother/brother/father/husband/wife, maybe you shouldn’t say it at all.

Speak love into the world. Speak light into the world.

One word at a time.


With love and gratitude,



“She Knew” A short story

As I’ve been listening to the album (which will be out SO SOON), and thinking about what I want to say about all the injustice in the world, I decided to try my hand at a narrative with my album and my screen play, “Parisian Dreamin”. Each character will have their own story, and the songs will also go with the stories. Here is the first, “She Knew”. Subscribe to our mailing list to get each short story and more updates about the album and all other things soul nerd! 

This day hadn’t meant anything to Akiva in several years. After getting back from Paris, working with her aunt for the Black Paris uprising, and coming back, immediately working in Baltimore, she knew. She knew that something was going to happen. She didnt know it would take this long, but she could feel something boiling under the surface. All the tell tale signs; Twitter had been set ablaze in the past couple days, people fighting in the streets for weeks, clashing with the police, it’s happening.

As she sat up in her bed she looked to her left and remembered him. He was so alive, so passionate about life and about freedom. He enjoyed good food, good music and great sex. Akiva rubbed the pillow and turned away. When would she see him again?  She didn’t know if it would be behind bars, or hanging from a tree. All she knew was her fight was to make his capture not in vain.

She turned on the t.v. and saw that the tanks were coming in.

After years and years of doing this and working with her aunt Ci Ci, she knew, she knew today would  be different. She knew preparing herself for the rest of her life may be just preparing herself for today. July gave her a call.  July warned Akiva not to do anything irrational, but Ju Ju knew. She could feel it over the phone. Akiva was ready. Akiva knew that the work that had been done up to this point was for this day. The people were tired, the people were fed up. No longer listening to what the news, what the radio, what their pastors, what their religions leaders had to say. All they wanted was freedom. The only way to get freedom is to take it. She knew this wouldn’t be easy, so she decided to start writing her message. Maybe if written those that were against it would understand, she knew that there wasn’t much hope in that, but maybe then the ones were with it would understand better.

She stood up, went to her computer at the window and typed,

If bravery is found through love, let me never tire of the act, let me choose to be brave each day. If words spoken in hope and grace mean more than those spoken out of envy, let me know them of the former and less of the latter. Let darkness fade on the coward. Let light shine, let love glow. Even if painful, let it be triumphant in my heart. I pledge allegiance to love.

She hoped that writing this and sending it to the right people would get out in time. So she pressed send. Retweet after retweet after video after facebook share came. And as she prepared herself for the worst, the first bomb fell. This was the second civil war, and her fight, her allegiance, were in love.

Jeanette Berry

What it look like….

Haven’t written anything on here in a while. I decided to share some words I’m working through. What do you think? It’s called “What it look like” 
y’know what freedom looks like?

Freedom is wearing sneakers onstage when everyone thinks you should wear heels.
Freedom is not wearing make-up.
Freedom is wearing make-up.
Freedom is wearing what you want no matter what size.
Freedom is exploring your sexuality honestly.
Freedom is opening up your heart.
Freedom is art.
Freedom is curly hair in a straight haired world.
Freedom is pink lipstick with yellow teeth.
Freedom is pursuing your happiness while respecting anothers’ pursuit.
Freedom is a hopeful heart.
Freedom is security.
Freedom is risk taking.
Freedom is loving
Freedom is bravery.
Freedom is courage.
Freedom is being uncomfortable.
Freedom is




1. the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.

2. that which is excellent in the arts, manners, etc.

3. a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: Greek culture.

4. development or improvement of the mind by education or training.

5. the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: the youth culture; the drug culture.

6. Anthropology. the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.

When I think of culture in the United States, I unfortunately do not see this as much as I’d like to. So much of our time is spent arguing about things we don’t like when we should be building things up that we do like.
The term art, the term artist is thrown around so easily these days, just like the word love. What does love really mean? Love is not simply a feeling, but an action. Art, the idea of art, the art society has been ruled by people telling us what art should be. While, I’m a firm believer that “art” should still be held in high esteem, it doesn’t mean that you need the stereotypical schooling to be an artist, but you have to value what it is you are doing. I know there are many people that create in spit of creating. Almost poking fun at the idea of creating, at the idea of putting soul into products. Soul is what separates art from creations to me. Putting life into your creations makes art for me. There needs to be a palpable presence of care, a presence of vulnerability to make something human. Why do we create? Who do we create for?
So much of our media and world is focused on the fame, the culture of fame and money. Where are our artistic traditions as a society? Appalachian music and art, Creole music and art, blues, jazz, grunge, rock n roll, hip hop. But if it’s not selling, we don’t invest in it. If we can find the profit, we will invest.
Is being a well rounded, open minded individual important to us?
Arts Education is being taken away in schools so quickly? Why? More and more we are removing our humanity. What makes us human? Our ideas, or thoughts, our creations-and yet, these are the things they are taking away from us. Some might say, and I might agree, that we are trying to be pacified. That if we just keep by routine, never explore, never question, never up end, never nurture difference. Why can we not love? Why can we not appreciate differences? I believe we cannot because we are not encouraged to think, discuss, be vulnerable, be wrong, appreciate those who are better, different, worse or in different circumstances. And I believe that all of these human actions come from the arts. When we lose them, we lose ourselves. When we lose ourselves, we will buy what they sell. When we buy what they sell, we are their slaves. When we become slaves without knowing it, we don’t believe in ourselves or any better.
You want to change things? You want revolution? You want acceptance? Have the conversations, create, work through your ideas, create based on how you feel and what you understand, then listen to others and how they work through their thoughts and art. But…. if all we are worried about is money…
We’re already enslaved.