Recap: Performing at the African Diaspora Awards by Shanelle Gabriel

This past Saturday, I was blessed to be the opening performer for the 6th Annual African Diaspora Awards at the Florence Gould Hall on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Hosted by comedian and Instagram sensation, Dulo (@iamdulo), the show recognized some powerhouses who've made great contributions to the African community and the world around us. 

I was asked to write a poem for the event which is below. It was great to see the other performers grace the stage including Ayo (who was EXCELLENT and a privilege to meet), Afrobeat artist Owen, soulful singer Mayoa as well as the internationally known Sarcodie.  

I opted to wear a dress that formerly was my mother's. It felt appropriate thinking about legacy and ancestors within the Diaspora who've bestowed their spirit to us in their passing. Check out the photos below! 

Pre-show posing with Dulo, our host

Pre-show posing with Dulo, our host

A blessing meeting Ayo.  

A blessing meeting Ayo.  

The Kingsmen Band backed me up for my performance. They were so dope (and quite dapper!) 

The Kingsmen Band backed me up for my performance. They were so dope (and quite dapper!) 


"If you wan chop frog, make you chop better frog, make you chop better frog, make you chop better frog"

I found this saying odd/ until I learned the importance of/ always doing things big/ huge/ tremendous/ If you gonna do it/ then you better do it/ in some cases less isn't considered more/ especially when it comes to hands, to hearts/ to black skin/ that melanin that holds fast to the legacy within/ call every tribe kin/ whether naija or Brooklyn/ whether from the soul of the Congo or the streets of Chicago/ we're not as different as we seem/ the same history/ the same painter but varied color schemes/ your heart pumps fire from heaven just like mine/ and it's a waste of time trying to keep us divided by bloodlines/ we're in the same family connected by ties that are divine/ whether African or African-American/ Caribbean/ or if you   Reside in another nation/ you're still the Diaspora's foundation/ and if we come together/ imagine the trails we'll blaze/

So let's be butterflies y'all/ but with caterpillar ways/ flap our wings always shine but never forget the ground from which we came/ take the hard world around us and turn it into silk/ no reason bridges crossed and broken can't be rebuilt/ whether it's by plane or via ship/ whether dropped off at islands during the trip/ whether hands were bloodied with liquid, solid gold or sugar cane strips/ whether cotton or coffee/ we lived to see this/ we breathed to be this/ We fought to be this/ unified by clenched fists/ unified by clenched fists/ unified by clenched fists/ Let them know we were born to be this/ we were born fly like this/ yes we woke up like this/ yes we woke up like this/ we rock our crowns like this/ and we're united like this/ we dragging a painful past/ together reclaiming our worth/ Baanu so a emmia/ When two carry, it does not hurt/ So here's to he Diaspora united/ Sprinkling our blessings on this earth

Superhead Movie: "Kiss and Tail- The Hollywood Jumpoff" by Shanelle Gabriel

I'm actually interested in seeing this movie. Not for obvious reasons, but as a female in the entertainment industry, I am confronted with what some men consider "opportunities to get ahead," and I'm curious to know how a woman could utilize that to further her career.

I remember speaking to a well-known producer in the biz about how a certain R&B artist was known for sleeping her way to the top. I said, "That's terrible, and to me, it's an insult to my craft if I have to use sex to get ahead. My talent and personality should be enough." His response was, "Sis, you do what you have to do. I'm not saying I get down like that, but the way I see it, most women are gonna give it up to some broke dude in the hood that they happen to be dating or some cat that will only be in your life for 3 months. At least make who you have sex with count."

He was dead serious.

Makes sense? I guess. But for someone like me who WON'T give it up to some dude in the hood or some cat in my life for two seconds, this wouldn't apply to me. While many people know me for poetry, understand that I focused on my singing career way before Def Poetry Jam. I used to be the only female in all these studios, at the rap showcases, and with all these guys around. It took a while for me not to be surprised when guys who wanted me to sing a hook on a track switched it up to trying to get down. Once a guy introduced me to Sizzla as "Shanelle, she sings...oh and she's legal. *wink*"

I wish that things weren't that way, and that females can get a head not because they give it. The ones that do make it hard for the ladies like myself who are insulted when someone looks past their talent and sees them as just another chick to screw. Fellas, come on. At least let us RECORD something THEN talk about you and I. lol.

One thing that Karrine said that I agree with is that, "You can only sleep your way to the bottom." While a select few have made it pretty far, understand that if sex got you there, the moment someone new comes along who offers the same thing, you're gone. I don't know if that message will come across in this movie, but from what I know, Karrine Stephans a.k.a. SuperHead learned that the hard way.