Write On Grrrl

Voice of Empowerment. Not reason.

ID'ing the Path to Success

Sometimes you get to connect the dots in life.  

And, sometimes, you gotta stand back and let, say, Stedman Graham, do it for you.

Dot Number One: Mr. Van Hunt

Last Saturday, Andre and I indulged in an outstanding show by one of our favs, Van Hunt. Who? Mmm-hmm. All part of the story. The short recap goes back to 2004, when he busted into the R&B mainstream, classified as a neo-soul artist. Sure, the brilliant songwriter was more than capable of being a comfortable crooner, but this was someone else's vision, not his. So he moved away from this established 'safe' sound, and the guaranteed fan base that came with it, to a more punky funky groove, which less people know about, but is hands down his best work yet.

Dot Number Two: Ty Taylor, lead singer for Vintage Trouble


The opening band, Vintage Trouble, didn't feel much like an opener. The guys were older. More polished. The lead singer? Complete showman. Dude was swiveling his hips. Dancing on the bar. And in an only in Rhode Island moment--during a urinal-side chat--much more interesting than a fireside--Andre found out Ty was from LA, via Jersey. But it wasn't for another two days before I figured out why he looked so familiar.

Back in 2005, Ty, then sportin' a mohawk, competed in an INXS reality show, on CBS, for the spot as the band's new lead singer. He didn't win and at the time, I remember feeling crushed for him because I thought he should have. Fast forward eight years and he's transformed himself in a mutton chops wearing, crazy cool James Brown song and dance machine. It all looked so comfortable, that I initially thought, mistakenly, this tight band was his life long passion.

Dot Number Three: Well, me

This occasionally frustrated freelance writer wonders and worries, where this professional ride is going. Sometimes, I just wants to catch a glimpse of the future to make sure the engine-that-could is indeed on the right track--and not about to get smoked at the top of the hill by an Acela.

The Connector

Well, who else would it be other than, Oprah's boyfriend, Stedman Graham, and his new book, Identity: Your Passport to Success. The gist? In order to find success, you've got to figure out who you really are. The process involves digging deep, tossing labels aside and not accepting any boxes that don't fit, even the ones you were born into. It's only after you peg down your true, authentic identity, that your limits will be lifted and true success will be achieved.

What I hadn't realized, until I saw Stedman hawking his book on CBS This Morning, was this was exactly the lesson of my weekend o' live music. Sure, I could see, and applaud, how both musicians had actively chosen to engage in this process of self-discovery, toss aside the safety nets of what brought them acclaim in the past and bask in the rewards of evolution. But what I hadn't realized, was just like on my journey, their muscling over to the other side, probably wasn't all that simple, pretty or without blood, sweat and tears. (The emotions, not the band.)

Simply put, I was privy to the end result, but not the journey. "It's all a process," said Stedman, from a studio in NYC. Argh. Someone's told me that once or twice, right,  Andre M. Brown?

And if you're true to yourself, the rest can't help but fall into place.