"I want the same things everybody else wants: love, respect, and relationships. And I want to be remembered as a person who was generous. The Obama cap? Well, I can’t knock nobody for the job he’s doing."
"I was working three jobs, but now I’m down to two. That will pay my bills, but I’ve got to find a third one again so I can save up some money for when I’m older. I don’t get any rest, really."
"I was 29 years old when my husband and I got our first foster child. We kept children for thirty-four years, mostly pre-adopt newborns, although we had some for two, three, and four years. It was really rewarding and brought us closer as a couple and as a family. We had two birth children and then adopted two of our foster children. I used to call my husband the “Baby Whisperer” because of how good he was with the little ones. We’ve had over 100 kids in all. We loved them all so much and it was always hard to let them go to their new adoptive families. It got harder and harder over the years, but we always said it was better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
“Music was my escape, the portal I used to walk foreign lands and experience life away from my Caribbean address, filled with joy and laughter, yet often mixed with pain, fears, and confusion. You know, I thought no one would like dreamers or people who wrote poetry; maybe they would think people like me are weird or out of our minds. And so I retired to the home of my mind, with pen and paper. Music and poetry were the outlets for my questions and yearnings, the divine connection that I felt. Even when sermons given by preachers couldn't reach me, I knew I came from somewhere and was loved and blessed by someone. I just wish that everyone who listens to my music could feel the same way: Life (humans) searching for LIFE (God).”
Robby John's CD, Runaway, is available through iTunes. Take a listen to a couple of cuts from the album: Freedom and Soul-dier. (I had the pleasure of taking the shots for his CD cover.)
“A few years ago five of us started a band and called it Surrender the Fall. We picked the name as a way of saying, ‘Let go of the things that keep you from getting to your destination. Don’t let anything stop you.’ For a while my mom was pretty mad that I was in the band and not in college. She’s artsy but not really musical, so she was afraid for me, I guess. But then we started playing a lot of places and released a record not long ago, so she’s very supportive now. We’ve played at the New Daisy, at the Beale Street Music Fest, and we tour nationally. When I’m not touring with the band, I’m working here at Schwab’s. The music business is hard on people though. I’ve been married and divorced already, and I’m only 23.”
Read more about Anthony Pitts and the band HERE and on the Surrender the Fall website. They also have a number of music videos on YouTube.
“I came to America from Sudan when I was nine years old, and I'm twenty now. There was a war there in Sudan, which is why we left. When I got here to Memphis, I had to learn how to greet people and how not to speak my language around people. We do speak it at home in our family. My dad says he wants my seven sisters and five brothers and me to get an education before we go back to Sudan, if we do. My grandma and uncle are still there. I’m going to try to go for three months next summer with my older sister and help out. Give out food. Put a roof over somebody’s head.”
“I was a single mom and I wanted to be home with my kids, so I left the corporate world and started providing childcare. I love watching children learn and seeing them grow.”
“I’ve been in the food business most of my life. I used to be a private chef for ultra-rich people. When I’d put on a clean chef's coat and go out to announce dessert, I used to get standing ovations. I can cook anything. Southern, barbeque, Cajun, anything you want. Another thing is, I’m a minimalist now. I can pack everything I own in my car and be ready to go anywhere in a hour.”
Mark works at Miss Polly's Soul City Cafe, 154 Beale Street, home of chicken-and-waffles, barbeque, and fried green tomatoes. Can't beat it on Beale!
"I took piano when I was very young, but my mother made me quit because I wouldn't practice. Then, after not really touching a piano for fifty years, I started taking lessons again. I'll never forget my first recital. The other students were between 6 and 14 years old, and there I was, 56 years old. I was probably the worst one there except for maybe the ten-year-old who cried and refused to play at all. I've taken lessons for five years now and have had two or three recitals every year. I don't have any illusions that I'm going to perform at Carnegie Hall, but I didn't want to regret forever that I hadn't learned to play. I think it's important for people to know that if you haven't done something and you've always wanted to do it, you still can, as long as you are drawing a breath."
Read more of Judy's story HERE.
“I used to come downtown when I was a little girl, and I always thought I’d like to work here. There’s so much happening and so many people to meet. People from everywhere, all different languages. A girl from Italy came by the shop a few days ago and really liked the big silver earrings I was wearing. She wanted to know where I got them, but I couldn't remember, so I just took them off and gave them to her. They matched her outfit; they looked good. She hugged me and tried to give me a dollar, but I said ‘No, no - it’s a gift from America.’"