I was really moved and saddened when I heard the news of Zara’s death this past Friday. I met Zara when she sent the message below asking for me to be her mentor.
“Greetings Lady Busy Bee Great Sense of Style you!!!
My research shows that you’re a busy busy lady BUT I actually noticed you based on your comments on notjustok and I was hoping I could get you on my listening team.
I know i’m just a “lil ol’ rapper chick” trying to come up in the industry and you have a hella lot going on.
But if you don’t mind, I’d really appreciate your ear-ness and your mentorship.I don’t know what kind of law you practice in, but I am a paralegal too.
Anyways, that’s a lot already.
Let me know what you think.
It was 2009. I responded and agreed to mentor her. I love mentoring young people and I am particularly thrilled if they are young women. I checked out Zara’s page per her email and what struck me was her main song, at the time, ‘Action,’ which was a feature she appeared in. I told her I was impressed, told her she reminded me of a particular famous star and subsequently sent her questions I had about her brand and what direction she was trying to go as an artist. I also asked her other questions.
Below was her response to the question on how she defines herself as an artist and a woman.
I gave it two days and re-read your msg. Pace yourself..it’s LONG! lol . . .
2. Who I am as an artist is a question that’s being answered everytime I grab a pen to write or get on a mic or perform for an audience. Who I am and strive to be as an artist is one who isn’t afraid to show different parts of herself. One who doesn’t fear creativity, new grounds, and is appreciated by listeners for her product/skill/talent/or whatever you want to call it. And most importantly, as an artist, i dont fear criticism and growth. There’s so many opinions in the world, and there’s so much to offer your fans/listeners/critics. At the end of the day, I do me but I take into account my surroundings and those who hear me.
3. How do i define myself as a woman? Exactly that…a woman lol. A woman is who she is regardless of whether she wants to get a PhD or JD and sit at home and raise kids, or an Engineering degree and then go into Coutour designing, or decide to get her first degree at the age of 45 and then work on being the most influential person in the universe. I really have a problem with boxing myself. My sex has already made me a woman. What really matters is who I am as a person. A person who happens to be a woman and can potentially influence other woman and i pray, can influence other men. That’s a very vague question. But to try to answer it… I’m a woman who handles her responsibilities. I’m a woman who has had to take care of herself for a while now. A woman who has no qualms about loving, living, sharing. I’m a sociable but walled up person. I know that the “surest” way through life is to keep on the basic straight road. continue with my education, stay in the 9-5 lane, as long as the economy doesnt go to bits, i’ll be taken care of just fine. BUt I have other dreams and aspirations. i’ve discovered talents and I want to share them. If i end up a not-so-rich woman but live a happy life…that’s all i ask. and If i end up rich, as long as I can still find happiness, that’s more than I ask and i will be grateful for that. Yeah I want to be that woman who’s name’s well known like an Mariam Makeba, or a Angelique Kidjo. but i’ll start in my little corner and see where life takes me.
4. My purpose as an artist is still being developed. i’m hoping that my artistry takes me to a place where I can be of service to human kind. For now, i’m still hoping to get my voice heard. . . “
One thing I quickly noticed was she was brave, courageous, determined, intelligent, beautiful inside and out and unafraid to be herself. She had a very friendly disposition and was just a beautiful soul all around. We became friends and also maintained our mentor-mentee relationship.
On December 4th, 2013, last year, she contacted me saying she needed to speak to me. It had been a while since we actually spoke. We subsequently spoke. I spent the first part of our talk asking and eliciting more information about her health status. I told her I was surprised to see that she had visited Nigeria that same year but was happy she looked great and much healthier. She discussed details of her daily challenges, the hospital visits and more. I told her I was so proud of her. She, in turn, thanked me for my “mentorship,” the article I shared with you all when she revealed she had MS, and according to her “continued support over the years.” I was humbled.
She also wanted my opinion on something that she said was really weighing on her, i.e. the direction of her career, the main purpose of her call. She said, “I really want to go back to Nigeria, do you think I should go?” My response was, “no. I don’t think it is a good idea.” I explained why. I was mostly concerned about her health and wanted to see her gain even stronger momentum. I wanted her to wait it out and suggested alternative mediums and means to make money through her music here in the States. She told me she missed home, she missed her fans, she missed the excitement and energy of performing. I promised her it would all still be waiting for her but getting as strong as she possibly could was first priority.
She thanked me and said she had not looked at it from the lens I was looking at, in terms of the alternative means of earning a living from her craft, and agreed that it made sense. She said she was excited to begin implementing some of the ideas we discussed. She thanked me again. I told her I should be the one thanking her and that it was a privilege to be able to be of assistance. I was grateful she thought of me and valued my opinion enough to reach out, and I hoped my input would, at a minimum, guide her.
Needless to say, I am saddened and quite moved to hear that she is dead. All she wanted to do was to put beautiful smiles on the faces of her fans in Nigeria, once again.
I pray her beautiful soul rest in perfect peace and that her family is comforted at this very difficult time.
May God be with us all. Amen.