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Meshell Ndegeocello

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Co-sponsored by the Black Cultural Center

Peace Beyond
Free my heart so my soul may fly
Free my mind of my worldly wants and desires
I look towards heaven with my arms open wide
Take my hand, come and take my hand

— Meshell Ndegeocello, Free My Heart (Peace Beyond Passion)

As a rural Southerner raised in a Black Freewill Baptist tradition, prayer and ritual remain my nucleus. Road mercy, invocations for the sick and shut-in, sanctuary in the midst of storms, Black baptists have a prayer and procession for every occasion. When I began performing my original music in front of scant, open mic crowds at the burgeoning of a late-90s spoken word movement, I leaned heavily into those proven prayers and rituals to soften my intimidation of the stage. In green rooms and hallways, before each performance, I’d call my momma to receive her blessing (ritual) and listen to Free My Heart by Meshell Ndegeocello (prayer). This disperate, definitive duet encouraged me to cross the invisible line between secular and sacred. Momma embodied rapturous faith. Meshell confronted ghosts, lurking and holy. Both women had been resurrected more than once. Together, they helped me be born again.

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Meshell Ndegeocello
  • 190 Alumni Mall
  • Blacksburg, VA 24061
  • to
  • Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech
  • See Event Website for Details