I was privileged to meet Neville Lawrence at an event hosted by the BBC in Salford. He is a very dignified, self-contained man who made me feel welcome in a roomful of strangers, most of whom seemed to know each other. I was there because of the music, movies and other things that I write and create. Maya Angelou said “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” As I approach my 50th year of life on this planet, my stories are pouring out of me with the same urgency of Indiana Jones trying to escape a cave with the walls slowly closing in.
According to Wikipedia, Whoopi Goldberg is one of the few entertainers who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. She was the second black woman in the history of the Academy Awards to win an acting Oscar. She is exponentially creative and my hero in the arts. I know the commercial world of music celebrates youth and beauty, but some of us weren’t ready to tell our stories when we we young and I have never been beautiful. As time rolls along, outward appearances fade and the beauty or ugliness of the soul starts to shine through the relationships we have with others and within ourselves. Tina Turner is the Queen of Rock and Roll. Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul. Mahalia Jackson was the Queen of Gospel. I am a warrior for the independent arts, the Queen of the Great Unknown.
These women have literally shaped my understanding of music, television and film. ‘Old Time Music’ is a fitting tribute to the place I came from.
That I might walk among women such as these. Tall, plain, black, strong, exponentially creative. Givers of stories and ideas so powerful, no force on earth can stop their resonance. Though fame may elude me. Though troubles may pursue me. Still, I walk on, inspired by and among Women, such as these. Women, such as me. Rhonda Merrick
In case you don’t know who I am, I’m the founder and co-director of KATFM CIC and Ashford Arts Centre. Lead singer of a band called Rhonda and The Great Unknown. Advocate for the education and rights of creative people in all art-forms. I am making an impact for the arts through The Great Unknowner’s movement.