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“How Quickly Joy Can Turn To Shame If We Allow It” by Sherri Rosen

Last evening I went to a wonderful concert at Riverside Church honoring Nelson Mandela. The concert was created by Composer and Producer,Joel A Martin along with South African playwright, director and, choreographer, Welcome Msomi assembling “Footsteps of Mandela”. Creating the event with percussionists, choir and drummers and singers
from the jazz and opera world.

They chose Riverside Church, NYC, for the performance, because Mandela had visited there on a few occasions after he had been released from prison 27 years ago.

Some of the singers were Simon Estes, who’s been with the Metropolitan Opera for years and has a voice as deep as the ocean. Actress and singer, Liz Callaway, jazz and
gospel singer, Jolie Rock Browne. Also the South African a cappella women’s choir, Thokoza.

The concert was on July l8, Mandela’s birthday and he would have been 96 years old. Coincidentally my birthday is July l9th, so I knew one of the celebrations I wanted to go
to for my birthday was to honor and celebrate Nelson Mandela.

My friend and I were fortunate enough to be sitting right up front and truly able to be part of the singing, drumming and amazing music that kept on coming. Congressman Rangel, our representative and Rev. Forbes, the head of Riverside Church for over 35 years spoke. Rev. Forbes said he identified with President Obama, because the first year Rev. Forbes was elected, the parishioners realized and said “oh my, we elected a black minister.” He said that was a most challenging year for him and that when Mandela was freed from prison and came to visit Riverside Church it was a defining moment for Rev. Forbes to hold his head high and to walk straight like Mandela and not allow anyone to bring him down.

Someone spoke about hatred being learned and not being born with hatred. I so identified with that because of what is going on in the Middle East and just growing up
with anti-semitism and racism. Joel A. Martin spoke about us not just going home and saying “oh, that was a great concert, or oh, that was an awful concert, but going
home and each of us doing our part to bring about change in anyway we can.” After all, change all begins with each of us.

So you see how inspiring this concert was and how celebratory, and I who was so into the concert, that when the composer and producer, Joel A. Martin, said “everyone up,
come up front” I thought that meant me, and I just jumped out of my seat and came up front and was ready to dance. What I soon realized that he was speaking
to the performers that were seated in the audience and was asking them to come up front. Inside I was embarrassed, but what really did it for me in that moment is
as I was realizing it was my mistake and going back to my seat, one of the performers in Thokoza, the a cappella women’s choir, looked at me with great disdain,
and said in this punitive voice “excuse me!” while trying to get up onstage with the other performers.

The shame that came up within me in that moment that I had done something terribly wrong was overwhelming. It brought back childhood memories of being
scolded for making an innocent mistake. When I got to my seat I am sitting there feeling this shame rising up in me and then the joyful spirit came through me
and said “Sherri, you did nothing wrong! You were so into joy, you just felt you were supposed to be up there!” And that joyful spirit was right on! It carried
me right up to the front with the other performers. And believe me my so called mistake did not take away all the wonder and joy that was going on.

So I say to you without being preachy, if someone says something punitive to you and takes away your joy–don’t let them!! Stay with your joy!!

This photo is of Tiny Modise, a South African dancer I met many years ago when she was performing on Broadway in “Drumstruck”. She was not in the Mandela performance but she symbolizes joy to me. She and I connected with our joy. Much love to you Tiny Modise wherever you are in the world!!!

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This entry was posted on Saturday, July 19th, 2014 at 6:16 am and is filed under African American, Clients, Friends and Colleagues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to ““How Quickly Joy Can Turn To Shame If We Allow It” by Sherri Rosen”

  1. Tiny Says:

    Thank you Sherri Rosen…

  2. becky blanton Says:

    How joyful can a celebration be if the performers are so hateful? Glad you didn’t let anyone steal your joy!

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