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Growing up, some of my clearest memories were when either of my parents had get-togethers with family and/or friends. It was a cacophony of sound; the slap of dominoes on a table; the rich belly laughs of my elders, the music that played as a background to the party. And the melodious sound of their patois. It was a rhythm that I could only hear, but never really participated in. An embodiment of my culture that I never really participated in. And that's what made those occasions (as few and far between as they were) so precious to me.

I was always discouraged from speaking Patois. There was the idea that I'd be looked down on, or assumptions would be made about my education and potential based on how I sounded. So I learned to speak "Proper"

I was taught to not be so "loud" (translation: boisterous), to "stop being extra". So I learned to dim my light, became quieter. I listened more, learned to react less. Or at least not react visibly.

It's funny the things you carry from childhood thru to adulthood

I've recently been cast in a production of 'Once On This Island'.

"Filled with calypso-flavoured songs, this musical takes place on a Caribbean island where villagers are telling the magical story of the orphan Ti Moune: a fearless girl in search of her place in the world, and ready to risk it all for love!" is the caption used to describe it, but it's so much more.

It's a show that is deeply personal to me, on so many different levels. It deals with issues like class, colourism, racism, status. It doesn't shy away from these themes. And though it is a painful reminder of the societal restrains we've all at some point been shackled by, there's an underlying core of joy. Of going thru the tough times, to seek that light at the end of the tunnel.

I've never enjoyed singing a score as much as I've enjoyed this one. Because I'm allowed to be loud and boisterous. I'm allowed to speak Patois. No, not allowed, encouraged. I'm encouraged to authentically be me. Black. Loud. Female. Jamaican.

An artist always wants to encourage potential audiences to come see their show. It's a chance to show off their talent. But in this instance, it's not just a chance to see a wonderful show, it's a chance for you to see why we tell the story.

My Story. My fellow Cast Members stories. Because there's a little bit of Ti Moune in all of us.

And I rejoice that I will get to embody that spirit and share her story with the world.

<check out my Recent & Upcoming Appearances page for details about 'Once On This Island'>

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