The best part about being a reporter, in my opinion, is listening to people’s stories and then having the privilege of sharing those stories with the rest of the world — hopefully making an impact on at least a person or two.
About a year ago, I got to tell the story of a passionate and powerful Minneapolis folk-soul musician named Chastity Brown, who in September 2017 played a show at the Oxbow Hotel prior to the release of her album “Silhouette of Sirens.” We chatted over the phone a few days before her show, where she told me how the political climate impacts her as a biracial musician.
“I hope it helps people engage with themselves in a deeper sense,” Brown said of her music. “There’s a lot going on in America right now, and even though I get to do this really fun thing called music, you can’t distance yourself from ... what is happening publicly with black Americans. I want to get to the deep (stuff) and have a good time doing it.”
I was blown away by the passionate, knowledgeable woman I spoke with on the phone. When I finished the story, I spent hours listening to her music on Spotify, and now consider her one of my go-to artists when I want music that also makes me think. I hoped that, perhaps, those who read my story would similarly be inspired.
Fast forward to October 2018, and I received an email from Brown’s public relations team announcing her new single, “Mad Love.” The news release shares the story of an encounter Brown had with a “white supremacist ... outside a club in Eau Claire.”
According to the news release, Brown had been having a smoke break before taking the stage when she was “accosted, cussed out and verbally attacked by a person who read her interview in a local paper.”
I was saddened and ashamed that 1) someone in the city I live in and respect could have done that and 2) it happened because of, I am assuming, a story I wrote.
But then I listened to “Mad Love.” Not only did Brown move me with a deliberately slow, intentional ballad filled with soul, but she taught me that “making an impact” can come in more than one way. Because Brown took a moment filled with anger and hate and turned it into a beautiful piece of art.
“So let them come, oh let them come for us,” Brown sings. “Let them come, see what it is we got. ‘Cause we, we got all the mad love that they want.”
Maybe my story didn’t inspire that man in the way I had hoped, but Brown took the incident and turned it into a song that will inspire “mad love” to many others. And that’s an impact I can live with.