Written by: Sarah Chase
Describe what made you interested in the arts?
Ever since I was a little girl I just remember wanting to sing. I wanted to sing before I knew I could sing. In the 3rd grade I remember dressing up as a singer for career day. A teacher asked me if I was a Giuseppe, I had no idea what that was. In my mind there was no doubt that I looked like a singer with my outfit. As for acting, I'm not sure when the acting bug truly it... maybe it was during middle school with my Chorus director. Each year for Christmas and Black History month we would not only sing, we would put in a theatrical production... a musical of some sort. I think that is what got me more interested in acting as well.
Describe the process of creating your one-woman show?
Why did you choose Fannie Lou Hammer to tribute the play to?
Well first off this... it was like nothing I had done before. When you write for a one person show you have to make sure that understand and remember, there is NO ONE BUT YOU, so you can't have “dialogue”, you just have to create a series of monologues that flow from one to another. So to be honest, when I started the script I was writing was being set up for an “ensemble cast...,” not one person. This script was written with my good friend and mentor who passed away in 2020 William Barry Scott (An authority on the life and times of Dr. MLK. He had been performing tributes to Dr. King for over 25 years.) Barry allowed me to explore and try to get the hang of the process alone for a while (he has written several one-person shows). But, at some point we began to work on it together. After having him give me more insight, that is when I realized that what I had done would not work and I began to write monologues for character that should be (Characters)...Of course, these types of stories take research. I traveled to New Orleans to the Amistad Research Center on the campus of Tulane University. They have a collection of Fannie Lou Hamer papers. The papers include letters she wrote, letters written to her, many other important papers that helped with my research. Books and speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer were looked at and used to write this play.When creating a play like this about Fannie Lou Hamer, we wanted to stay true to her real life story. So much of the script need to be factual. Therefore, in my one-woman show, 99.9% of what the character Fannie Lou Hamer says, are words she actually said at some point. Along with the research we began to develop other characters around the story and create monologues for those characters. Once the monologues are complete and the characters are created, the monologues are put in position. When writing the monologues for the characters, you don't exactly know where they will go on the story, you just know that what they have to say is important to the story. And … the truth is... we started writing the play in about 2011 and the first performance was in 2013. Since then, the script has been adjusted on several occasions. What it is now is much better than what it was in the beginning. But... THAT IS THE PROCESS.
Actually, I didn't choose her, Barry Scott (co-writer of the play) suggested it. I was working with Mr. Scott with his non-profit theatre group (The American Negro Playwright Theatre), and we were looking to start producing one-person shows s we wanted to continue our process of telling stories that must be told about African-American. He was working on writing a few and suggested that I write one about her. I had heard of her but didn't know much... once I began to research her... It was a must for me to do. She played a vital part in the voting right act of 1965, with her testimony at the 1964 DNC being what made many folks around the country get a first hand testimony of what was happening to people of color in the south. She stood in the face of fear and didn't allow it to stop her from taking a stand against injustice. I like to call Fannie Lou Hamer a “DANGEROUS WOMAN” - a woman who takes a stand against injustice and goes against the status quo. She does this not just for self gain, but for generations.
Describe your experience in creating your debut solo album.
I've been singing a long time now and I have recorded a few project with a group I used to sing with.... but this project is different because if is all me. Inspired by the Fannie Lou Hamer Story and the many folks who are still taking a stand against injustice. It;s a great feeling... I liken it to giving birth... this music and these songs have been apart of me and they come from me and now is the time to share them with the world. They will no long simply be in my tablet, or in my songwriting file. They have been given life and will soon be introduced.
How did you come up with the title of your album?
Being that this project is inspired inpart by Fannie Lou Hamer, Freedom Songs made sense to me. Freedom: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. | Freedom: absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government | Freedom: the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. We have continued to fight for our freedom in a country that has yet to be truthful about what it continues to do to people of color. Freedom Songs speaks to that as well as to what I hope for and what I find hope in... that is, that LOVE HEALS, that there are people who don't look like me, don't come from where I come from, and may have never experienced racism in any way.... but they stand with us. I chose the name because freedom is something that we all want... not just in this country but around the world. Freedom to love, freedom to live, freedom to be treated fairly. And as Fannie Lou Hamer fought for freedom, I use my music and this album to do the same.
What about Fannie Lou Hammer inspires you so much and what would you want people to know about her when listening to your album?
One of the songs specifically is her story, that song is called Stand-Fight-Win! … I want people to know that just as she did... you can make a difference, one person taking a stand can empower a nation to stand with them. I want them to know that she was big on love, she understood that LOVE is what HEALS. She didn't let her “lack of education” stop her from speaking up and out about the injustices that our people faced.
Explain what your biggest goals are with yourself and your art.
Well... my motto is “Rock Mics, Change Lives, and Birth Visions.” Rock Mics – More than just through music but it means to use my voice and my platform to uplift and empower. Change Lives – As I use the Mic...my gifts (music, song, writing, etc) will help others make positive change to better themselves, in every way possible. Birth Visions – What is inside of me I will share it with the world, and help others move forward and live out their dreams and reach their goals. I want to change the world one song, one play, one lyric at a time.
What does your support system look like and how do the people in your life motivate you?
My family and friends are very supportive. I've always been encouraged to reach for the stars. My friends and I pray together and uplift one another on our goals and endeavors. My mom doesn't always understand why I do what I do or don't do as an artist, but she is behind me and knows that I am determined to reach my goals with my artistry. I have some of the best homegirls and sistas in the world. Many of s have businesses and “side hustles”, and we all support each other. My support system consists of old high school friends, family, my international good friends, former teachers, sorority sisters (Alpha Kappa Alpha), my church family, and others.
What do you want people who listen or watch you to know about you and black people in general?
You are great and powerful, and strong. You can do anything because you were born to be great. I want them to know that they should never give up and never stop moving forward. The process to the promise is hard sometimes, but it is simply a process... the promise is waiting on you... so DON'T ALLOW THE PROCESS to break you down. Let it make you stronger. I want them to remember to stay humble and know that what we do and go through is NOT just about us... there are lives will change because of what we do. This music, these plays... they are much bigger than me... and that is the same for my people... what we do is not just about ourselves. What we do will affect generations to come. I want people to know that I am human and flawed but flawed people have the power to make the world better. And most of all, I want people to know that I lead with Love, I am a lover of Christ who understands that Love must lead the way, and it is my hope that with my music and productions of plays.... etc... they see that and hear that.
Describe what your favorite song on your album is about.
11. Describe what your favorite song on your album is about. (You do not have to share the title!) Honesty, I can't pick one song. This project is currently set ti have 5 songs ( I feel like I may add 2 more....that is up in the air). Each of these songs are special and can stand alone. Out of the current 5, 3 are completely original and the other 2 are remakes and/or remixes. I have folks who really like the song Hero, others who really like What Do You Stand For. As for me... don't have a fav at the moment. They were all written at different times and mean something special to me.
Explain why you think activism through the arts is important.
Because I want to be the change I want to see and it starts with me. I can't simply sit and see people mistreated and do or say nothing. It's not in my blood....So, I therefore MUST use my voice and my platform for more than just to make money or get fans on social media. There are others who came before me and because of them I am able to do what I do. I owe it to my ancestors... I own it to my family… I owe it to my people... I owe it to myself, and most of all...I owe it to God to use my voice to make positive change, to speak against the mess and to use my gifts to empower, encourage, and motivate people world wide! And truthfully... If its only about me... I'm wasting my time... because one day, I will be no longer... what I leave here will be the work I've done... the lives I've inspired and empowered and change for the better.
More ReallyReecy wants you to know:
1. I have an apparel brand @7StoneCreative | www.7StoneCreative.com
2. I work with the youth at my church, I am the Praise & Worship Director for our Kingdom Kids Ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, TN (Bishop Joseph W. Walker III, Pastor)
3. Following this project I will be working on a children's album titled LIFE'S LITTLE INSPIRATIONS, inspired by the children I cared for over the years of being a nanny & teacher over the years of being a nanny & teacher for over 15.
Also... my website is www.ReallyReecy.com | I am ReallyReecy on all social media as well as @ReallyReecyMusic on Facebook as well.