In 2008, I was working at a college in Baltimore, MD with plans to return to the Washington DC area to work and live. I had been commuting each weekend before that and the rising cost of gas was making that commute unaffordable. During that time, I had made the decision that I wanted to start getting back into expanding my artistic horizons. I had just opened and successfully closed a three-day run of a play I had written in three days and produced in less than six months with a cast of over 20 college students. I was stoked and excited and eager to embark on my artistic journey which had been on hiatus since I became a mom in 2003.
So, in preparation for the move back to DC, I started an online network in early 2008 to have a space for folks who were like-minded where I could share ideas and meet new folks. I had a sense of what was popping off creatively among my peers from my work as an arts journalist, but, I wanted some connection where I was a participant rather than an onlooker and reporter of what was happening. I invited my students at the college I worked, but also left the network open for people around the world to join if they too were emerging (or re-emerging) artists like me.
Less than literally a week after starting this online site I called LiberatedMuse.com, my dear friend Maceo Thomas pitched an idea he had for a music festival highlighting DC area talent. I had been covering arts by that time for about three years and had some folks in mind who should be invited to participate. We decided then that we could put on an outdoors festival later that summer. I suggested we use the new network I created as a way to promote the festival and maintain info about the festival we were planning. That’s how Liberated Muse Productions was born.
Since 2008, I have met some incredible people. Maceo and I produced the Capital Hip Hop Soul Festival for three years total before I decided that I really, really, really liked producing theater and wanted to create some more music (that’s what I was doing prior to 2003). We parted as a business entity but still remained close as friends and periodic co-collaborators. What I didn’t expect was how important other folks would become to me over the next few years, too.
Once I began focusing on my own art projects– from producing my plays, writing songs and performing– having a network– not an online network I had to manage from the outside looking in, but a real network that met in real life time, collaborated, etc.– became of the utmost importance. Opportunities to showcase my work became more abundant and I needed to know who those people are that I can call in a hot second to meet me somewhere to rehearse or shoot something or meet with an interviewer. I needed to know who I could depend on to work on upcoming projects and who would have my back to just listen and help me work out an artistic project. I also began to learn who I really cared about as people, not just as artists. I began having conversations and sharing experiences with folks as a peer, not as Khadijah the event planner, producer, director or writer. These folks ultimately became the people I referenced when I talk about the Liberated Muse Arts Group. They are the artists who moved from being people I work with to people who I consider to be part of my tribe.
I share all of this to say that I couldn’t have done any of the things I’ve done if I didn’t have a tribe of friends and co-collaborators who were present in the journey. From my friend Maceo who kicked things off with joining with me to put on the festival to my life partner/co-parent Ben who has been there as a co-collaborator and supporter for every step of the journey. And, there are many others who have been invaluable as part of my community. With these people I have put together performances, I have vented, I have cried, I have laughed, I have learned new things, I have transformed as a person.
I would like to thank these folks from the bottom of my heart for being part of my tribe and for allowing me to be part of theirs. I had written a piece a couple of years ago about the importance of having certain types of friends when living as an artist and I am blessed to have some examples in my life today. Some of these truly remarkable people honored me with their love this past weekend with a surprise Appreciation Party that I will never forget for as long as I live. This year has been such a milestone year– it’s the 5th year anniversary for Liberated Muse, my 10th year as a mother and I turn 40 in December. So, with all of those milestones, this party was so much more meaningful. I am still on high from this wonderful testament of how truly loving my tribe of artists are and it is understandable why I am so grateful.
So, to you, I encourage you to understand how significant the role of your tribe is in your life. Your tribe will be those who encourage you, who you encourage and support, who create with you, who commiserate with you, who build you up and who you, in turn build up and love. Your tribe will contain those who will make you a much better person than you would be going at it alone.
Share in the comment section about your tribe.
Visit Liberated Muse Arts Group.