The beginning is the end is the beginning is the end is the beginning.
What an insane start to this year! Does anyone else feel like where the hell did this first quarter go?!
January was the Cali tour, February was the London tour, and April is a work/birthday trip to Nashville. The past two weeks are a blur of the in between. The trying to catch up-get ahead-not fall apart kind of time. I seriously need to learn the power of no, just as much as I love the opportunities that can come with yes.
My first tour overseas happened to also be my first time out of the U.S.
I was terrified and excited at the same time. It was DEFINITELY a learning experience. I had the unfortunate luck of getting the customs worker on a power trip. I showed him my ticket, I told him I was only staying a week, that I was a songwriter just visiting, and answered the financial questions he asked. He then told me I didn’t have enough money with me to sustain me for a week. I thought he was kidding. He asked me why I would pick a time when I was broke to visit another country. I stared at him blankly for a moment, and then explained that it was on my bucketlist to sing in another country and that I had bought the ticket on a flash sale with the end of my credit.
I don’t like having to explain my finances to someone or my life decisions.
I also explained that I had a tax return that would be direct deposited into my account during the duration of my stay, so I would definitely be ok. Then he asked me if I had a copy of it.
WHO TF carries a copy of their tax return with them on tour?
Then he looked at my landing card again and asked me if I write songs for other people or just for myself.
I didn’t like the negative connotation that came with, “just for myself.” I explained that I do both. He proceeded to ask me if I got paid for these songs or if it was just for fun. So again, I had to try and explain my life’s work and passion to him, and justify the fact that I’m writing but still waiting on something to hit big.
Being a creative is the blessing.
Trying to explain to a non-creative what it means to be a creative is the curse.
He asks me if I have anyone at home who could financially sponsor me should I run out of money during my trip. I explained that my sister and boyfriend would be pissed, but if I was going to be stuck out on the mean streets of London, I’m sure they would loan me something until I got back to the states safely.
My humor is not a one size fits all type of thing.
Also, I don’t think he liked my face.
So, then he asks me if I know someone in London who can financially support me should I fall on hard times. I give him my friend Lucy’s name, although I’m extremely annoyed and embarrassed at this point. He walks me over to what I like to call, the box of shame, and tells me that he is going to give this “Lucy” a call to verify that I am who I say I am.
He leaves me there for another forty-five minutes, in a roped off area, in the center of the room, for everyone to stare at… in extremely uncomfortable silence. The only sounds around me are the beeping of the handicap cart, and the man next to me being sarcastically interrogated. And if I hadn’t been so upset about being held captive in a room full of BO, I would have been filming this guy’s responses.
Sarcastic customs worker: Sir, who are you here to visit?
Guy next to me: Mr. Sam
Sarcastic customs worker: What is Mr. Sam’s last name?
Guy next to me: Mr. Sam
Sarcastic customs worker: You are here to visit your friend, Mr. Sam Mr. Sam?
Guy next to me: Yes
Sarcastic customs worker: And do you know Mr. Sam’s phone number?
Guy next to me: No
Sarcastic customs worker: You are here to visit your friend, Mr. Sam Mr. Sam… who
has no phone?
Guy next to me: Yes
This continued on well after I had finally left the box of shame. He called my sweet friendwhile my sister was texting telling me to breathe and shut my mouth. She reminded me that they could deport my ass if they felt like it, and also that nobody in my family had international bail money. Valid point.
So I smiled as he leaned in and said, “Pardon my language but it sounds like your life is shit back home in the states, and you should get your affairs in better order before you decide to come back. Lucky for you, your friend is really well off financially, and she has agreed to be your sponsor through the duration of your stay.” Yes, pardon his language. Pardon his whole damn existence.
So I walk to finally find my suitcase, considering it has been hours since I deboarded the plane. I go to the luggage counter he directed me to, and ask the guy where my suitcase would be from a plane that landed two or more hours ago. He asked me, “Is your suitcase blue?”
I nodded my head as he pointed behind me.
I shit you not, my humble belongings were rolled out into the middle of the room. Just chillin…by themselves…waiting on someone to steal them. Had this been America, I would have had a real naked trip.
The rest of the day followed this trend. It took me 20 minutes to switch over my currency and find the Hethrow express. I made it to Paddington Station, called an Uber and then the guy went to the wrong location. He cancelled my ride and it charged me. I stood there frozen and cursing for a moment, and then requested another one. The car got close and then my phone died. So, I roll my giant suitcase back into the station and locate a socket to charge my phone, only to realize that I am the least intelligent traveler that ever existed. Our sockets are different. I sat there and cried for a minute. I was cold, had no idea where I was going, and I hadn’t slept in going on 27 hours at that point.
There was an old lady who laughed and told me it would be ok. She said, “It’s ok, my daughter-in-law is American. I get it.”
I was too tired to figure out what that meant.
I borrowed her adapter for a USB and charged my phone enough to get me to my first Airbnb.
Luckily, all of my hosts were amazing. I stayed in three different Airbnb homes on opposite ends of the city. I felt pretty proud of myself for navigating a series of buses, trains and miles of walking with a giant suitcase…through the blizzard that hit on my second day there.
Citymapper is a life- saving app.
I was also blessed to stay with a friend of a friend and his wife for two days in Chelmsford. Even though the last show was cancelled, they made it worth the trip. They were kind and opened their door to a stranger on the word of someone else.
I got to meet up with a few friends I haven’t seen in awhile, and a hug and familiar face are priceless on a solo journey in a new place.
-Walking Portobello Row at night, alone, in the cold quiet, observing the city and taking pictures of graffitti.
-Playing the Bedford and all of the amazing performers I met and hung out with for hours there. We shared a meal, some hot tea, and disdain for number 45.
-Adding a show date last minute because Emanuele needed an accompaniment after a cancelation. It took me several trains and buses to get there and back, but it was a magical venue to play. I was overjoyed to find out he was playing an all blues set, so we figured out what covers we both knew and sprinkled my originals in there.
-After the show, I met a girl at a bus stop who had a few hours her husband had given her without her kids, so she gave me directions and then we walked around the mall together talking. She was a nurse and I told her Chris’s plans to enter the medical field. We hugged and got on separate trains.
-Watching the snow cover the city while witting in a coffee shop in Downtown London. I have never seen that much snow fall in my life…cause Texas.
-Meeting a couple from Germany that told me I should go into standup along with music. We shared some tea between sets and got some pictures together.
-Being a part of a conversation of men from three different countries discuss who had more natural swag.
-Fresh mint tea literally every place I went. I heart hot tea.
-Two covers recorded with a very talented keys player because we know how to make the best of a snowed out show.
-Enjoying a conversation with a new friend so much that we were in a restaurant long enough to eat lunch AND dinner.
There was so much I learned on this “backpacking” tour through London. You can literally make anything happen that you dream up. Stop waiting on a label to find you, or an investor to back you, or a manger to book you. I don’t have any of that shit. I used a phone, a computer, and drove lyft to buy a ticket. I got a ton of no’s, but I got two yeses. Things fell into place after that. I literally built a tour from nothing that meant everything to me. I believed the whole time it was meant to happen. I wanted to sing in another country, particularly the UK with their appreciation of soul and vocalists. The people I met and stories we shared with each other have forever been embedded in my heart.
One night during the tour, I couldn’t sleep. I was literally up all night and could not figure out why. But then, like I was slapped in the face, an idea hit me. How could I involve the women I loved in my life in the new release? The song is about sacrificing the best parts of me in past relationships, giving up more of me with each one. It took me years to heal, and sometimes it is still a process. Learning to love yourself takes work, especially when the world works at beating you down.
I love so much about so many of the women in my life, and I admire them beyond words. I didn’t want to define the best parts of them, I wanted for them to do it for themselves. And with every text,inbox and email that came across my screens, it brought me more joy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being part of the #bestofmeproject and sharing your smiles.
(link below to watch my new single “Best Of Me” produced by Da Dreak) (Please subscribe to my channel and share the video)
“The Sharing Is Caring Tour” started in Cali, extended to the UK, and now I am proud to bring it home to Texas. Music gives me purpose and it is the best way I know to reach and connect with people on a larger scale. See yall soon!
Dallas -June 15
Ft Worth -June 16