Lifting Voices

Sharisse Campbell at ArtsWestchester’s 2017 gala (photo credit: Leslye Smith)

Seeing as this is the season for lifting voices, I started to think about my own voice. As the youngest in my family, a girl, I hardly had a voice – or at the very least, my voice was muffled by others who had more authority than me. My reflection on this topic was prompted at our gala this past weekend, when a young woman talked to our guests about how the arts helped her find her voice. I saw myself in those words. Like many women, famous and not, it took me many years to find my voice. Melinda Gates had it right when she said: “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.” In my brief stint as a journalist, I had become adept at telling other people’s stories. Then, as an artist, I experienced the exhilaration of allowing myself to put my ideas on canvas. My pivotal moment came when I realized that authenticity comes from the gut and that I needed to align my work life with my passion – the arts. A voice is a beautiful thing. But it takes courage to find it and use it. Sherese Campbell, the choir teacher who sang acapella at our gala got her training right here in Westchester with The Revelators, a Mount Vernon theater group. She reminded me of something Madeline Albright once said: “It took me a long time to develop a voice and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”

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