You Are Only As Good As Your Last Performance

You are only as good as your last performance…

Thats what my old vocal coach used to say.

I fondly remember performing at the International Festival at Bayside High School my sophomore year. I sang the Kelly Price rendition of “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow. ” This sharp dressed Sisqo loving Junior came up to me after seeing the rundown for the show and he said, “If you’re good enough to sing THAT song then you’re good enough to sing with me!” I loved the boldness and accepted the challenge.

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No limitations

The night of the International Festival we performed “We Can’t Be Friends” by Deborah Cox and RL. If I do say so myself,  we sounded AMAZING! The vocals, the riffs, the range, the strength and the talent was undeniable.  I remember my navy blue velvet form fitting dress.  I felt so confident.  When we were done, the accolades never stopped.  When I got to chorus that Monday,  my friend Tareaphe (who is now a music engineer) said, “Do the talent show.  No doubt you’d win!” I appreciated the vote of confidence.  I accepted the challenge.

I went to the auditions and I sang some Barbara Streisand song my mother made me do. No one knew it but they didn’t care. I guess it was an advantage because they didn’t know I messed up either. It sounded good so I made it through!  I was so excited. A senior on the football team whispered, “Yo, you’re going to beat the main broad this year.”

Ha! I can laugh at that now. Who was the “main broad”?! The main broad I’ll leave nameless but we can just say her voice was strong and even though she was no Whitney Houston. . .she was CONFIDENT!

So I went to the talent show determined to beat the “main broad. ” I sang “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here” by Deborah Cox.  I stood there effortlessly singing my heart out and then I got to the climax in the song.

” No no no no no/ no no no no no/ no ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh …

Everyone in the auditorium stood up! All the air in the room when straight to my head! People were screaming my name. So I took the subliminal vote of confidence and I went up another octave. 

“Oooooooooooo ohhhhhhhhhh yea oh yea…”

My left ear popped. Couldn’t hear the music. I went temporarily tone deaf. I couldn’t get back on track. Everyone who was standing started to slowly and awkwardly sit down. I was instantly alone and mortified. 

Well  needless to say, the “main broad” won and my god brother took me to dinner to cheer me up but it didn’t work.

I share this with you because it is a lesson I am still learning.  Stay humble.  Be prepared.  Be smart. Remember that fans are not necessarily friends and they may desert you during those awkward moments when it isn’t cool to cheer for the loser. When you hit the high note but you feel low remember you need to be your own biggest motivator. Just like my couple of days of “stardom”, consistency is important. In this world where moral challenges are prevalent and the unemployment rates are fluctuating YOU have to be able to dig yourself out of temporary funks.  There will always be disparaging remarks but you are only as good as your last performance. 

The world is your stage!

By: Shaun Nickens

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It wasn’t all bullsh*t!

When I was a child my Nana Bea would call me princess. princess My chariot was her white mini van and my ball was a shopping spree at Syms Clothing, lunch at Old Country Buffet, and a Tweety chain I picked out at a discount jewelry store. In my neighborhood there were no gowns, just Reebok, Kani, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Mecca, and Calvin Klein. If you had a Bear bubble jacket in the winter, you were “cool.” That’s what hood princesses wore . My maternal side would spoil me with name brands from QVC that I was too young to appreciate and I had a standing hair appointment every two weeks. I didn’t know what a luxury that was. There was a manicure specialist named Jackie who did my tiny 6-year- old nails while my hair would dry. My friends wanted to eat at my house.  They’d call home and ask for permission. I didn’t know what a  luxury that was. To have enough food to feed
your family and feed unexpected guests.

You’re never told your Prince isn’t going to fight dragons or “save” you from anything. Relationships require effort and gumption from both parties!
You’re going to win each other. You’re both royal in your own right. You have to be honest with yourself and be willing to admit your flaws so they don’t devour you. You’re as vulnerable to your demons as a ditz is to a poison apple.  My favorite Disney princess was Ariel. Long red hair. A body Jennifer Hudson would kill for so she can keep making money off her weight lossariel commercials. A mermaid with a talking Jamaican crab as an advisor. I didn’t understand how she could be late all the time when she swam so fast. Id always be on time. No car, no traffic, no stopping for gasoline? Perfect! I could relate to Ariel. She was a dreamer who just wanted something different from her norm. She’s never been on land. I’ve never seen blue or clear water. The only waters I know are long island beaches and chlorinated pools. She dreamt of love. I’ve always been fascinated with love.  The only emotion left inexplicable and undefined. I sought it out and have found it and claim it with raw passion and loyalty. She traded in her fins, her friends, and her father for it! She won a mans heart without speaking (I realize now that being mute worked tremendously in her favor.) Ariel bridged the gap for me. The gap between the fairy tales I watched over and over on VHS and real life in Jamaica Queens. Those stories and movies aren’t all bullsh*t.

The bottom line was sacrifice, not allowing fear to hold you at ransom, not allowing your enemies to underestimate you, respecting your parents but choosing to be emancipated from the mistakes they made that they are convinced you’ll repeat. Being a princess wasn’t about a diamond studded crown or my Yankee fitted. It’s about GUTS and the clarity of self to recognize your royal position no matter what your socio-economic status is. You’re royal even of your man has to let down his cornrows and YOU have to climb a tower to get to his heart. The throne is within. So dust off your old
FUBU sweat suit and tell the non believers ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly.fubu

-Shaun Nickens

My Interview With Cinderella of When We Were Queens Skin Care and Cosmetics-DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH

When you come into When We Were Queens you will most likely be greeted with a huge smile and a warm embrace and a kiss on both cheeks!  Most people don’t even get that kind of treatment from their own family members!  In the store is drapery and colorful displays for the customers.  There will more than likely be a video playing from The Honorable Minister  Louis Farrakhan in the background.  There are books available for purchase, both urban fiction and self-help/instructional.  There are display cases with foundations, bronzers, eyeshadows, lipcolors, cleansers (for men and women), toners, moisturizers, and a whole heap of other products to enhance the aesthetic beauty you have.  The friendships, love, and community atmosphere in When We Were Queens will nourish the innate inner beauty you have!  Listen to this short interview with skin care specialist and award-winning makeup artist, Cinderella    

Listen to the story about how tragedy can sometimes motivate one for change…

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You want flawless and radiant skin? Its easier than you think!

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“Without God and you, we truly cannot survive”

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Dressed in my classic “get up and go” outfit, I interviewed Cinderella in black spandex tights, a t-shirt, my hair in a big poof and I was adorned in my favorite silver earrings that are almost the size of my head!  Boyyyyyyyyyy did Cindy have words for me :-o!  Stressing inner beauty as well as outer, Cinderella has challenged us as young women to “cover up that beautiful body”  and leave some things to the imagination!

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She has advice for running a successful business, finding a decent man, self-respect, and of course skin care!

Cinderella is available for Weddings, Makeovers, and Classes.  She is located at : 186-15 Merrick Blvd Springfield Gardens, NY 11413

Some services include:

Designer Eyebrows 15

Bridal Consultation 45

Prom 40

Facial 45+

Makeovers 50+

Stop in for any product and/or service and mention : ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly.com or Diamond in the Rough and get a % off of your purchase!!!!!!!!!!!

By: Shaun Melissa Nickens