As a musician, I am often asked who I look up to; who and what I aspire to become some day. While I'm totally horny for Bob Dylan and have a major girl crush on Stevie Nicks, I don’t look up to anyone you’ve heard or seen before. In fact, the people I look up to are often looked down upon by society…if they’re even looked at at all. Street musicians: those homeless or close to it who are humble and persistent enough to play outside of grocery stores, inside of train stations, anywhere and everywhere at all hours of the day and night. People who, in spite of the hardships they face on a regular basis, remain tenacious, grateful, and optimistic about their futures. This blog is about those people. I hope to use it to give them a voice so that they can inspire you as much as they inspire me.
Meet Tonika: a 21-year old singer/songwriter who plays outside of my neighborhood grocery store every evening without fail. I’ve often listened to her in passing, and today when I heard her singing her new song “Keep The Faith”, I just had to stop and ask her about it. I was instantly blown away by her insight and optimism; despite living from shelter to shelter, where she can never eat a home-cooked meal, and always has to worry about having her belongings stolen while she sleeps, she maintains a beautiful sense of optimism and an infectious smile that I dare you not to fall in love with. I spoke with Tonika for a couple hours, during which she shared her insight on beauty, self-esteem, and bullying. She believes that everybody is beautiful in their own way, and uses all of the negativity she receives from others—whether it be about her music or her looks—as motivation to succeed. “You’re going to have a lot of doors slammed in your face,” she said. “You just have to keep the faith, and be strong, and just keep moving…no matter what happens.”
It is Tonika’s dream to go to music school, where she can learn to read music and become an inspirational lyricist and composer. As a singer and more importantly as a person, it is my dream to someday be as brave, as driven, and as un-phased by negative people and circumstances as Tonika is. Keep the faith, my friends!
Let Tonika you know you support her by commenting on the video above. If you would like to help her in any other way, please contact Alexandra at firstname.lastname@example.org