Do you most often actively seek inspiration or does it find you? Or is it a combination of the two?
My inspiration normally finds me in my dreams. I’m also inspired by heart felt life stories like someone overcoming obstacles that are considered impossible or unimaginable.
What led you to art in general and to your art form in particular?
I was led to entertainment by a number of things. Some are very personal but I will start with my mom and dad. My dad is a musician and my mom has always been a natural dancer. Growing up, my mom would play music for hours. My siblings and I would always dance around the house with her. My sisters have always been inspirational. Even when it comes to the first song I wrote. I was 6! They still sing that song when they want to pick at me. My dad inspired me to want to become a singer and my mom is the reason I am a natural dancer but the show “Fame” is truly what intrigued my interests to pursue dance. Yes! That one line from Debbie Allen, ”You want fame? Well, fame costs and right here is where you start pain and sweat!”
Have you ever been involved in a traditional business? If so, how?
My very first job was the McDonald’s on Metropolitan formally known as Stewart Avenue. I was 17 and I absolutely hated it! I became a cosmetologist after that and I am still a master stylist working at Off the Hook Barber and Beauty. I’m also working on a documentary with Yeek! Atl about the past and current resurrection of Atlanta’s unique street dance and music culture endemically titled YEEK!
In addition to mastering their art, what other skill sets to you recommend that artists develop if they want to be successful?
Put God first! Believe in your brand even if no one else does. Have patience even if it doesn’t work out the first 10 times around. Perseverance is everything!!! Love yourself!!! Always stay willing to learn.
How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
I truly dance to the beat of my own drum. I have never had the desire to follow the pack! As a kid I was very outspoken and got in trouble a lot because of my mouth. What I lead by is being myself. It’s OK to admire things about a person but you can go so much further in life by staying true to who God made you to be. I have to also acknowledge my daughter Courtney. She truly is my rock. [She’s] my number one supporter [and] is truly a better version of me. I stay in the lead by making sure I set a standard for her to follow.
Do you think that there are any widely held misconceptions about art, artists or both? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?
Someone asked me the other day why did I stop singing and doing gigs with different artists? Well, I never stopped. I simply took another route.
Why I took another route in the entertainment industry? … Being an aspiring singer, writer, dancer and choreographer the words like no, wrong height, wrong size, she’s too old, she’s good but not what we are looking for, she needs more work or we can’t have any dancers out shining the “artist” can be very disappointing to hear. I worked with snakes of all kind. Harmless to poisonous. In my heart, all I wanted to do was perform. Entertaining became a outlet for my many emotions that I could not express to the ones I was too afraid to address up close and personal. After one final no at my last audition 11 years ago. I decided to create a way for myself and all other entertainers/dancers to do what they love and that’s to perform. Size and age became a nonfactor and Melodic Movements was born. I had no desire to follow what every other artist did then nor now.
How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?
I map out my goals first through prayer. Then I focus on what’s important to make my brand better. I’m not in a competition when it comes to what I see for Melodic Movements. There are a lot of great dance studios around Atlanta and I support them all. What I focus on is making sure my child and adult students get the proper training and guidance they are seeking. Whether it’s to pursue a career in dance or if it’s just an outlet. I don’t measure my success because what ever is for me God will see to it. Success comes in so many different forms in my world. I had a child at the age of 14 and was told I would never amount to anything. Was bullied growing up and went through some things back then that most kids now can’t even handle in these days and times. Looking at where I have come from. Now that’s strength and success within itself.
Who do you see or use as examples to emulate?
My peers … The dance world is saturated with excellent instructors, choreographers and dancers so that’s tough. Debbie Allen will always be number one in my book. Along with her. Mia Michaels and Alvin Ailey. They are ones whom I would want to emulate.
Name two of your top role models: one in the art world and one from outside of it.
Debbie Allen was my role model from afar. Her passion for dance whenever she hit the TV screen or stage was impeccable. When it comes to my number one role model I give all praises to my mom. Though our relationship can be challenging, she is my everything! There is no true art form when it comes to being a parent. I watched my mom struggle as a single parent to raise four daughters as I brought another baby into our household. I hid my pregnancy for 7 1/2 months which is another story within itself. My mom still made a way for us. The only thing she made me promise was that I graduate from high school. I did that and I also attended Morris Brown College.
Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you view life, yourself or both.
There is a book called Damaged by Cathy Glass that I read years ago. It gave me a totally different outlook on life. I could relate to so much in that story which made me strive to stay strong no matter how broken I was inside. Sylvester Stallone’s success story also motivates me a lot.
Why do you consider continued learning important?
Continued learning is always important because terminology and technology are always changing.
What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
Letting love cover all the multitudes of sin.
What role does art have in the community? What role would you like to see art play in the community?
Art is an outlet in any community. Giving kids and adults a chance to have expression and be creative whether it’s in music,dance and any other form of entertainment.
What role does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?
Through the use of social media I have been able to increase my clientele in dance and hair.
What software, app or other technological innovation has made the biggest difference in your life and/or career?
Social media and Bluetooth.
Please define your personal brand.
Melodic Movements was designed for aspiring dancers, regardless of size and background knowledge of the art; to master the fundamentals of dance while focusing on the importance of physical fitness. We believe in enhancing the inner passion of each dancer through providing exceptional instruction and customer service.
What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
I would like to visit Egypt because I would like to experience that culture.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I wish I could change a number of things about this world like guys pulling their pants up but unfortunately you said one. I would change the way human beings treat one another. Letting love cover all the multitudes of sin.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
If I had to answer this question 10 years ago I would have a long list. I wouldn’t change anything about myself. I have embraced that my attitude can be a bit much. Sometimes I talk too much. That I can’t save and please everyone. I love my big teeth, my stretch marks and everything else people point out about me. I have learned to embrace what I have because it’s a part of what makes me who I am. My child was and is a true blessing to who I was and who I have become. She thinks I’m superwoman and that’s all that matters to me. To know my story is to know me and why I love me.
What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?
When I think of an icon the first thing that comes to my mind is our Lord and Savior because he died for all of us. No one can ever be as high and iconic as he. So I would like to say what I think it takes to be an inspiration and role model to others. Though I am human and highly flawed it takes for love to cover in every aspect of anything that you do. To treat everyone with respect. As much as I admire people like Debbie Allen there are many others whom I admire known and unknown like Madame CJ Walker, Maya Angelou, Louis Farrakhan, Phylicia Rashad, Serena Williams, Terri Axum, Chantel Perry-Stevens, my mentors Michelle Douglas and the late Sharron Benjamin-Hodo, My dear friend and business partner Aja Little who also passed away. (Aja. My fussing angel now.) and then there are the people like my students who believe in me and trust me. My students give me life!