Behind the scenes at today’s shoot.
Behind the scenes at today’s shoot.
Potential Track List?
via #BeFunky iPhone http://goo.gl/jy6LM
My heart has always been in music. Growing up, I loved singing – I loved the sensation of the notes in my throat, I loved the beat, and I loved how my voice could affect others. When I appeared on The Voice in Season 2, audiences could feel my love for music, helping me to reach the Top 8. I’ve had the opportunity to record with some of my favorite artists and travel around the world. Now, I have the unique opportunity to use my voice and my talent to bring much-needed attention to the challenges facing children living with HIV.
I’ve been living with HIV for almost a decade. I know its challenges and dangers, and I know just how scary it can be to live with the virus day in and day out. But for children living in resource-poor countries, the virus isn’t challenging, it’s deadly. Despite everything we know about preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, every day, over 900 children are born with HIV. Without care and treatment, half of those children will die before their second birthday. But that doesn’t have to happen.
For 25 years, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation has worked tirelessly on behalf of women, children, and families around the world in the battle to eliminate pediatric HIV. Working in 5,400 sites in 15 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and India, EGPAF is dedicated to keeping mothers and babies healthy, happy, and HIV-free. That’s why I’m proud to lend my voice to their efforts, and that’s why I’m so excited to perform at the 24th annual A Time For Heroes celebrity carnival in Los Angeles, CA on June 2.
I believe that if you are willing to live your best life, you can do it. If you want to do more for others, you can do it. For years, I’ve been using my music to help others live their best lives and achieve their dreams and goals. Now, I’m thrilled to be able to do so to benefit EGPAF’s important mission: to eliminate pediatric AIDS and create an AIDS-free generation.
For loving you is like a disaster.
it’s a flood.
that tramples villages and conquers soil.
it rushes in like
hovering over the face of the deep,
and resurrecting ghosts,
this love of yours.
Somewhere between Gethsemane & New Orleans, you littered a deluge of affection & I found it complete & in tact. How is it your hands turn fractions into whole pieces, whispers into testimony? How is it your arms are long enough to reach me, yet short enough to find me? Somewhere on that road to Damascus, you made me blind, just so I could see.
Cape Town boogie.
Life, for me, has been dire plenty of times.
Car repossession. Check.
A public separation from my wife. Check.
The death of friends. Check.
The ongoing struggle with dependent behavior. Check twice.
HIV. Yep. Check.
These things not only depressed me, but debilitated me; rendered me useless. I was no good to anybody and I certainly was no good to myself.
So I’ve hit the reset button about a dozen times.
“Reset?” You’re asking, “uhhh, ok, sure.”
I understand why you may be skeptical. We’re tired of slick mouthed people telling you the life of your dreams is right around the corner (all you have to do is buy the book/DVD to learn how).
I’m simply sharing what I’ve done to reset my life. And, Lord knows, I’m still in need of some resetting.
What I do know for sure: moving forward requires a letting go.
This letting go is sometimes painful, uncomfortable, embarrassing…but in the end, the burden is always lifted.
Maybe the letting go is someone you love very much, but just isn’t good for you.
Perhaps the letting go is releasing yourself from the gult of yesterday. Finally saying to yourself, “I have punished myself enough for this. Life MUST go on.”
For me, the letting go has been habits. I’m a HIGHLY addictive person by nature. Seriously, I get addicted to anything (people, coffee, Altoids) and though I’ve been able to overcome a lot of bad habits, there are still others that need to be released.
I’ve smoked cigarettes on and off for 14 years and at this point, this is just unacceptable.
When I first walked away from meth, I found that smoking weed helped me sleep and stimulate my appetite. I was also dealing with a recent HIV diagnosis and my doctor encouraged me to smoke to help deal with nausea and other stomach issues. I must admit, the bud helped tremendously.
Fast forward 8 years and I’m still needing it to eat and sleep. I am fed up with emotional and physical dependency and it is time for me to release this.
I know it won’t be easy or comfortable, but I’ve learned that the beauty in releasing is the return.
The return is contentment and peace and a little bravado because, after all, you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.
I don’t have it all figured out but I’m learning and in my learning, I’m choosing to be honest.
Come reset with me.
And so this is what it feels like to have you
bleed into the arteries of my mind,
and it happens
at the oddest of times.
On the 101,
at the chicken place in Koreatown,
in the pew at church,
in that dull, gray space between
dead of night
You’re there, bleeding on the carpet,
and I say, “what took you so long”
Getting ready to speak in Johannesburg.
She liked the way it danced
on the edges of my mouth.
her laugh tittered,
It stumbled through her lips
headstrong onto my lap.
It sounded like the forming of continents,
of the Red Sea standing at attention.
Her laugh made my smile
“So, anything interesting you’d like to tell us about yourself?”
The young interviewer was so eager; so excited to be working for America’s #1 TV show, NBC’s The Voice, I didn’t want to rain on her parade by talking about the fact I was living with HIV.
The Voice wanted the All-American guy and what did I have? A tragic story of recklessness.
I told the petite blond with her eager eyes about not fitting in very well as a child. I told her about craving love and attention and how that craving can lead you to do silly things sometimes.
She was nodding. I kept talking.
I told her about being molested at a very young age and how that led to me thinking that there was something fundamentally wrong with me.
Singing was a great way to escape, but sometimes thoughts literally tormented me at night.
I told her about the three suicide attempts as a teenager. I told her about the numerous times I ran away from home. About having my first drink at 17 and popping my first pill at 18.
The young interviewer kept her face passive, but I could see the wheels in her head spinning.
“Were the pills the hardest drug you experimented with?” She asked.
I told her how the pills were great in the beginning but after awhile, I began to need something stronger. Ecstasy led to cocaine, which led to cat tranquilizer, which ultimately led to crystal meth.
I left that audition that day feeling extremely defeated. Though it had been years since I’d touched those drugs, I still felt dirty.
I was even more disappointed in the fact that I hadn’t told her about my HIV status. I had been too afraid to bring it up. What if The Voice didn’t want to approach the subject? What would average Americans think?
I received a phone call from a very close friend in New York shortly after my initial interview with The Voice. My friend was frantic and I could barely understand what he was saying.
“He’s dead, Jamar, he’s dead,” my friend kept saying.
After a few minutes of coaxing and piecing the story together, this is what I had gathered: a 25-year-old friend of ours had jumped off of the George Washington Bridge. He had killed himself because he found out he was HIV-positive.
I clutched the phone close to my ear as my eyes filled with tears, “he didn’t have to die,” I whispered, “He didn’t have to die.”
I began to think of all of my young HIV-positive brothers and sisters around the world who felt as though there was no hope. I imagined the burden of guilt and shame that they carried with them everyday.
Life is too short to spend on regrets. How can we move forward if our feet are stuck in yesterday’s mud? It’s time to forgive ourselves, dust ourselves off and accomplish what we were created for.
After the emotional phone call with my buddy, I called the interviewer from The Voice and told her that I had something I wanted to add to my story.
“I’d like to tell America that I’m HIV-positive,” the words came out in a rush, “but only if we handle this like it’s a story of triumph. This isn’t a tragedy because I’m alive to tell my story.”
You see, my brothers and sisters, life does go on even when everything has crashed and burnt around you.
There’s a refined beauty that comes from destruction. It’s the chance to re-imagine, to rebuild.
However, being free means paying a price.
The cost is living and enjoying life, even when others would like to take that right from you.
The cost is being a teacher, a healer…educating ignorance even when it hurts.
The cost is taking a leap of faith and trusting that the net will appear.
The cost is deciding, once and for all, that every life deserves dignity and sometimes you have to be the one to fight for that dignity.
Living with HIV hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a blessing because I finally recognize my strength. I’m a fighter and I choose to leave a legacy.
What do you choose today?