Jami Jackson's Music Player

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Miss Black NY Pageant

On January 3rd, I participated in the Miss Black NY pageant at the Helen Mills Theater. It was an interesting and different experience that I was totally unprepared for! I had focused solely on the song and speech. I really thought that those 2 things held the most weight. Turns out, I needed to practice my modeling skills and put more work in my clothing attire. I wore a dress that I thought could work as a gown, but was too short. The pageant said that there were no swimsuits allowed, so I wore a fully clothed Nike outfit, but all of the other girls wore clothes that bore their midrift. The girls also took a lot of time to model their clothes whereas I simply walked in and off stage. I couldn't even try to come up with a way to be creative with it. There were 7 other girls that participated in the pageant. Everyone did really well over all. I had family and friends that attended thankfully, so I still had some support. Another female ended up winning the pageant. She was well-prepared for the event. She had actually done pageants before and does motivational work for a living. She was also an older woman. Most of the girls had already done pageants before, so they knew what they were getting into. I had never participated in a pageant before. I never really even watched a pageant before. I honestly don't know what I was thinking, that I could just roll in there and make it happen like that on the spot. I knew about the speech and talent portion, but I didn't pay much attention to anything else.
I also wasnt practiced enough for the questions. Now granted, I couldn't prepare my answers in advance, but I am not used to answering questions on the spot. I am more of a quiet and introverted person and I need time to think about my responses. I was asked what part of NY would I take tourists and I immediately answered Brooklyn. Not that I know much about Brooklyn, or NY in general for that matter, but because I knew it is the borough with the most people and culturally, there are have been so many changes. But my answers probably came out disjointed and unclear. The next question was who is a good role model for young children, and naturally I said, "Barack Obama!" although I know, it's cliche. But still, enough can't be said about that man!
My song for the pageant was "Greatest Love of All" and my speech was about HIV prevention and awareness. The song turned out really well. I felt like I connected to the audience and even put more into the song than what I practiced. The speech was good too. I hadn't practiced it enough to the point of memorization, but once I was on stage, I actually spoke it from memory. The audience seemed to connect to the message. I was saying all of the facts about HIV infection and NY. Did you know that NYC has the highest rate of HIV infection in the US? NYC's rate of HIV infection is 3 times the national rate. HIV adversely affects the black community and the youth. 1 in 40 African Americans have HIV in NY. HIV infection is the leading cause of death for Black women aged 25-34 years. HIV infection is also the leading cause of death for young people. These statistics are appalling and scary! I truly believe that more has to be done for HIV prevention and awareness. I plan to continue to work with Lifebeat and other HIV activist groups to do more. I will keep you posted on the details!

Christmas fun and New Years Eve disaster

My Christmas was really nice. It got off to a bad start though because my flight was delayed for 2 days! I was supposed to go home on December 20th, but we had a really bad snow storm the day before in NY. Pretty much all of the flights were delayed going to and coming from NY and the next flight for me ended up being Monday morning, December 22nd. I had to miss my Mom's birthday on the 21st and everything! My family had planned to go to church and then have dinner at Ruth Chris's Steakhouse, a really upscale steakhouse in Cary, North Carolina. Had I been there, I would have ordered a medium rare filet mignon. My steaks have to have a lot of flavor! However, I missed all of the festivities :( Oh well, at least the airports were trying to avoid trouble. Did you hear about the miraculous United Airways flight that landed in the Hudson River in NY on Thursday, January 15th? It was such an amazing recovery! All 150 passengers survived! They were heading from LGA to Charlotte, a regular flight that anyone could have been on, but apparently the flight hit a flock of geese and started to falter. The pilot, who ended up being an experienced pilot from the Air Force, brought the plane to safety. It landed in the water, but no one had any major injuries, save hypothermia. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to have been on that plane! I am always afraid that something could happen when I board planes. When you are in the air like that, you are at the mercy of the pilots and God. God certainly had mercy on those passengers!
It was nice spending time with my family for Christmas. I was in North Carolina for 8 days. I met up with some friends from high school and saw my Grandmother and my aunts and uncles. I also got exactly what I wanted and needed for gifts. I'm not able to travel home as much as I want since I work and live in NY. I go home usually for the main holidays.
My New Years Eve turned out to be a disaster. I went to a party that was promoted by P. Diddy's Ciroc and it was $50. I was excited at first because I didn't want to spend too much on my New Year's Eve, but I wanted to go out still. $50 seemed like a perfect amount to spend. The promoters claimed that there would be hor d'oervers, 3 hour open bar, party favors, complimentary breakfast, champagne toast, and other perks included. It was at a "new" club called Promenade. Turns out the club was at the old "Nest" club that changed its name to Promenade, probably because of the bad rap. My crew and I got to the club at 10:00pm, later than we wanted, but still a reasonable enough time, and the bouncers made us wait outside in the club for over and hour and a half!!!! Now mind you, it was FREEZING outside. And I definitely had on a dress with no stockings and heels and no hat, trying to be cute for New Years Eve. It was all in vain. We barely made it in for the countdown. Some people didn't even make it in by the countdown, they did the countdown in the cold outside. I have never had a worst time in all of my life. And everything the promoters claimed was included at the party wasn't there. There was nothing inside, no indication that it was even a New Years Eve party at all. I decided that I would never go to a New Year's Eve party below $100 and I probably won't go if we don't get a table. I refuse to go through something like that again!!

BET TV Documentary, "Are You Positive?"

I was so excited to see the BET TV documentary on December 1st!! I have never experienced such joy in my life. I was also really nervous because I was not able to see the special before it aired. I didn't know how I was going to look or sound! I ended up watching it with Cides and a friend from North Carolina, whom I haven't seen in years. He came all the way from North Carolina and called me to meet up in NY. It was perfect timing!
The special turned out to be even better than I thought it was going to be. I wasn't able to see or learn about the other people on the documentary before I saw it. However, all of the stories were so interesting. And I felt like they gave a good amount of time for each person to give the viewers and idea about who they were and what they believe in. They were able to catch me playing the piano on a few different occasions as well as singing original and cover songs. That's exactly how I wanted to look. They had a snippet of my newest song "I will Survive" as well as "Sista Girl". Hopefully, I will release "I will survive" this year. I am in search of a really good producer. If you know of one, let me know!
I was also very surprised at the end. I didn't correctly guess who I thought had HIV and who I thought didn't. But that was the point, that we can always accurately decide who has HIV. We have to continue to use safe practices. I really believe that the special was an excellent way to tackle HIV stigmatism. It was also the perfect day to air, since it aired on World AIDS Day. I really liked how they interweaved facts about HIV in the special as well. Although it was only 30 minutes, I felt like it managed to accomplish its goal. I was also surprised to see all of the publicity it got. It was promoted on 106 and Park before the special aired and multiple commercials were aired for it as well. It was so exciting!
The day of the special, I was actually called to do a radio interview with 103.7 The Beat! I was so surprised to get the request! I was not expecting it at all! It is an FM radio station based in Michigan. I also did a radio interview for BmoreNews on December 2nd. It is a radio station based in Baltimore. I was so happy to continue to promote the show and spread the word of HIV prevention. I was nervous for those interviews though, because I had never done a radio interview before. I wasn't prepared for it or anything. But I wrote down a few points that I wanted to say and I took it from there. It was definitely nervewracking, but a wonderful experience. I was really happy to spread the word!