The revelation last week by the Innocence Project and American Civil Liberties Union that DNA and fingerprint evidence did not match Ledell Lee, a Black man executed in 2017 for the murder of a white woman, is part of a larger issue that we rarely discuss. Too many Black men face false accusations without true redemption or justice. With all the protests for police and judicial reform, the rising issue of false accusations is buried in our conversations and focus on addressing blue bravado and the immunities afforded to prosecutors, judges, and clerks of the court. We must provide protection under the law for a group of victims that are truly voiceless, the falsely accused.
Black men represent less than seven percent of the U.S. population but account for forty-seven percent of those proven wrongfully accused or convicted. Some studies suggest that over fifteen percent of convictions are wrongful, but this percentage is higher for Black men with little consequences within our criminal and judicial systems. In most cases of wrongful accusations against Black men, the police, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, or false accusers involved are rarely punished due to immunities or misguided advocacy. The examples are egregious and should create more anger and movement.
What makes so many cases appalling are the examples of misconduct, ignorance or hiding of evidence, and the lack of respect for the lives of the falsely accused. In the Ledell Lee case, Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas dismisses DNA and fingerprint evidence and the malpractice of Lee’s defense attorney. He orders the execution and murder to move forward as if to save face for the state.
What is your relationship to the piano?
It was a funny journey...From age 14 to 16 I was a hip-hop lyricist and artist. At age 16 I decided to try my hand at production after my best friend, who was the producer of the group, got involved with some other activities during our after school music time. Mainly having a girlfriend... LOL...
After a couple months of trying my hand at production I realized that I had a knack for it. And then decided that if I could do this this well without a musical education I could take my music to the next level with studying formally. So, at age 17 I grabbed my fathers adult piano course books that he wasn’t using and taught myself how to read music.
I also was so infatuated with the hip-hop band The Roots that I wanted to take my group and turn our three man rap group into a three man instrumental trio and rap group where we wrapped and played our instruments.
By age 18 I took a liking to the live gospel music of the church that I was attending and it peaked my interest to become a pianist/organist.
At age 21 I landed at my first job as a Church Musician; quit my 9-to-5 and studied music for 30 hours a week while working for the church for about 10 hours per week. Over the next couple of years I used that freedom to study other genres of music and also to become a jazz and improvising piano artist.
Tell us how you became a model:
Modeling was definitely a situation where the universe was pushing me to pivot. I was working at a pharmacy in New Jersey and a retired talent agent came to the counter to let me know I need to start modeling. I didn’t take her seriously until she came back months later and was wondering why I was still in the pharmacy. After that moment I quit my job. I would not recommend that to anyone who is following their dream. But what I will say is, if you feel an intense force telling you it's time for you to elevate in life, follow it. Always follow your gut feeling.
Following my gut, I started modeling and submitting my pictures to agencies in Philadelphia, PA. I was working with a smaller agency in Philadelphia when I landed my runway job at Urban Outfitters Headquarters. I eventually started going to New York City every weekend, going to castings and walking in fashion shows. I was blessed to have met and connected with like minded individuals all the way to when I became signed with Wilhelmina.
What is your routine before a photoshoot?
I usually prepare by practicing my poses and understanding what the mission is for the creative concept of the shoot. When I first started off modeling it was honestly so weird to me. I used to just stand there but now I think I have a good rhythm with photoshoots. I love listening to good music to put me in the right energetic headspace I need. I prepare mentally by making sure I am well rested, silencing any distractions, and focused. Physically, I eat healthy and workout consistently. That's a must.
A woman with many talents, why did you choose singing?
I chose singing as an outlet to let my voice be heard, I didn’t have anyone that I could open up to and be vulnerable with to just tell them about all the things I had been through in love and allowed to happen without judgement.
What are some of your rituals before a performance?
I like to just vibe out, I have affirmations that I tell myself to encourage me to know who I am!
Share details about the new single and where it can be purchased.
The new single is titled “Magic”, my inspiration for this song was, I had gone through all the hurt and pain in my other song “so hurt”, and I was in a different space. I was over it, I had traveled to Atlanta to help out with Georgia Senate RunOffs and birthed my inspiration for “Magic”. It can be purchased on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora, you can find it on all music streaming platforms!
What does success look like to you?
Success to me looks like someone doing their thing, out making things happen, breaking barriers and not taking No for an answer. Success means setting out to do something and not stopping even after you reached that goal. You keep going and Create Success!