Drawing Inspiration from Memoirs
The world around you moves so swiftly. Day in and day out, seeing people rushing to work, friends uploading new content, even local news has overwhelming information. With everything going on, drawing inspiration should be easy right? Somehow you find yourself in a monotonous space, a place of lackluster songs, repetitive dance moves, and a showcase of past fashion styles. Maybe it is time to consider looking behind-the-scenes and through the lens of the innovators. Those who dreamt, worked hard and achieved their place in the scene.
The following books are by strong leaders in the entertainment industry who have broken barriers, set records and forever marked history. Their voices encapsulated within the pages of their memoirs, to be heard throughout time as a marker of their struggles, triumphs and perseverance. While these books are not the typical self-help readings, they can serve as an introspective intersectional point to reflect and rejuvenate the mind.
As an aspiring writer for the entertainment industry, one of my self-doubts is my writing. Hearing professors say, “less poetic, more academic” and then searching for different opportunities, yet hitting dead ends has amplified the subtle message to “give up.” In many circumstances my school major Sociology, has defined my “experience” within the field of entertainment. I Decided to enroll back in school and attain certifications that would expand my training or background on the subject matter. However, with taking six courses in the past three months I have read three memoirs, as a means of stress-management. These memoirs include “My Voice: A Memoir,” “Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who’s Next,” and “Unbreakable: My Story, My Way.” Turning the pages of the memoirs, a new perspective and was reminded of various life lessons learned from my parents, peers, and community around me, but simply let go of in the face of my adversities.
As a radio personality, Angie Martinez is widely known as “the voice of New York” for her groundbreaking work, specifically interviews with some of hip-hops biggest stars. In her memoir, “My Voice” Martinez details her humble beginnings from being mesmerized by the growing and developing sound of hip-hop to getting her foot in the door at a radio station. This ultimately lead to her blossoming career in the broadcast industry. Reporting on the deaths of two major hip-hop legends, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. To this day, Martinez has not released her interview with Shakur. Her sincere acknowledgement of the interview and why she has not released it, makes her memoir that much stronger, by giving the reader a bigger picture of the momentum built up between the East Coast, West Coast rap beef. Her departure from the radio station that saw her rise to stardom, to the move into the competitor’s team, Power 105.1, is described as a bittersweet moment. when Martinez knew it was time for a fresh start, a new chapter. This informs the reader to cue into the signs that life gives one when it is time to begin a new journey.
In her memoir Martinez states, “The point is, you never know what you can do until you really put yourself out there and try. Do it. Whatever it is. Challenge yourself. If you can’t imagine the finish line, the first step is to just show up. And don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Run your own race.”
This is a reminder that a person’s focus should be on themselves, by not worrying about another individual’s odyssey. Although times may be hazy, opportunities are still on the rise, defining what success is and how it is reflected in one’s daily journey.
The commonality between Usher Raymond, Mariah Carey, and Justin Bieber is the multifaceted music producer, LA Reid. In Reid’s memoir, Sing to Me, Reid writes about his start in his birth town of Ohio and growing up with the love for drums. His passion for playing in a band, ultimately led Reid to create a group that be known as The Deele, producing various hits like “Body Talk” and “Two Occasions.” Reid would not only come to work with, but also “discover” global acts like TLC and Toni Braxton, among other artists, bringing them to the forefront of various stages and cementing their talent in history. Sing to Me gives a behind the scenes’ look at Reid’s life, from personal struggles to professional breakthroughs in his search for individuality. Reid’s honesty in revealing how the attaining of a goal he hoped would bring him much joy, a distinctive identity, would make him feel conflicted, as there was an element of loneliness that began to settle from such accomplishment. The genuineness in his writing allows Reid’s identity to be seen as more than a music producer and, ultimately, empowers the reader to see that every note, step and phase in someones life happens for a reason.
Giving insight into his world of discovering talent Reid states, “You have to remain receptive and open, without losing your critical and analytical side. It is a tricky combination of balancing intelligence and intuition and being able to tell the difference between having a vision and a hallucination.”
This speaks with the purpose of being connected to the self, to allow both reason and instinct to lead the way. In doing so, one can begin to recognize the remarkable variance of stories and be inspired to realize that one’s own story holds much weight.
Strongly known as “La Diva de la Banda” and “La Gran Señora,” the late singer, Jenni Rivera, penned her story to reveal her upbringing, from domestic violence to accomplishing a triumphant musical record. Rivera’s vulnerability allows one to understand the struggles of a woman of color reconstructing the mold for female Mexican regional singers. Being the first and only female regional Mexican artist to sell out the Staples Center, in her memoir, “Unbreakable,”
Rivera details her sentiments on setting records and breaking down various barriers. From singing competitions to small bar performances and finally owning prestigious stages with broken hearted tunes and songs about female empowerment, Rivera documents all the rejections she had to face to attain an iconic career. Rivera’s integrity is kept intact with every page as she is not afraid to open-up about disappointments from personal relationships, strain from a demanding music industry, and the feeling of isolation even when among the largest crowds. This is what makes “Unbreakable” a powerful memoir, a profound look at the makings of one of Mexican regional music’s most successful superstars.
Rivera had a motivating quote that her father instilled in her from a young age that said, “The key to success in life is getting up early.”
As the phrase goes, the early bird gets the worm. The quote kept her motivated to not only aspire and dream but move beyond that, in creating roadmaps to accomplish her goals. One, then, can use this as motivation to analyze the self and admit if one is giving ones plans the adequate amount of time to continue seeing progress.
In these past few months, these memoirs have reminded me to continue running my race, as well as to not allow someone else’s comments about how I should accomplish my goals to further affect me. The importance in reading from other individuals’ stories is the takeaway and realizing that one does not need to follow the mainstream narrative of “success” of attaining luxuries, fame, or fortune, but rather follow the rhythm of our own song, which will lead to one’s own definition of splendor, distinction, and prosperity.