“What Do You See?” Music Video: Family, Struggle, Resilience, Awe

“What Do You See?” is a lovely song by the talented musician-singers Mr and Mrs. Something.


Today, they released the song, as well as a music video that has a story line about family, parenting, struggles, and resilience. When you watch the video, you will see and hear Mr. and Mrs. Something, and you will see my daughter, my granddaughter, and me. The video is available here.


Bryan Tucker and Brian Lee, filming Mr. and Mrs. Something, August 2015.

The director of the video is Bryan Tucker, who directed and produced the prize-winning documentary Closure (the story of Angela Tucker‘s search and reunion), among other works. Bryan came up with the story line concept, a merging of the lyrics and a story of a family, and approached us about being in the video.  It was a brand new experience for us, and was a lot of fun. I have a whole new appreciation for the art of making top-notch videos–so much time and so many details.


Bryan Tucker and Brian Lee, filming the video for “What Do You See?” August 2015

The lyrics and the music are strong and challenging:

What do you see…the dream that has died, or the hopes yet to be?

Someone who’s loved and lost, or someone who’s learned patiently?

The song and the video are about everyone: the struggles, the failings, the fallings, the willingness to get back up. They are about mothers and daughters, parenting, interracial families, raising children, loving each other, being angry or hurt, laughing, cheering each other on, hanging in, showing up.

We’ve heard today from dear friends who saw the video and know us (including in our unpleasant, imperfect, not in the video moments), and from strangers who saw themselves in the lyrics or story: adoptees, Ethiopians, single moms, women of color, grandmothers, dancers, aspiring ballerinas, adoptive parents, step parents, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons.

Wherever we are, we can choose to see the best in each other and ourselves, even in the midst of all our imperfections.

‘Cuz I see a will to rise again from every fall.

I see a soul that’s filled with awe at the wonder of it all.

What do you see? 

You can (and should!) download the song for free, for the next 2 weeks. Mr and Mrs. Something’s album Setting Sail will be released on November 17, 2015. We are honored to have been a part of it.





Iman, Zariyah, and Racism’s Chokehold on Beauty and Ballet

My granddaughter Zariyah was a model for a Black History Month project titled “Because of Them, We Can.” Iconic African-Americans (the Obamas, Malcolm X, Alice Walker, Myrlie Evers, Langston Hughes, many more) are quoted, and a photo of a child appears with the quote. It’s a lovely series.

IMG_7599Iman (aka David Bowie’s wife) is an astonishingly beautiful, accomplished woman. Since I am a brassy gramma, I sent the photo of Z along with a brief message to Iman on Facebook. I got a classy message back: “I’m honored beyond belief! Thank you!” I am among her 40,000 FB fans, but she wrote to me directly.  Please–let me labor under that illusion.

Today, this was posted on Iman’s page:


We can chat about art and creative license in high fashion, about controversial ways to get attention, about the role of blackface in American history, about the scarcity of models of color on haute couture runways. It’s all tangled together.

The biggest challenge, at the end of the day and debate, is for me what it says to young girls of color about their beauty and its value to the world. Racism has beauty in a chokehold.

An example:

Lauren Anderson

Lauren Anderson was the first African-American to be named a principal in a major ballet company (Houston Ballet). That was in 1990, a mere 127 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. About 6 generations worth. What additional groundbreaking might we expect in our society in another 127 years, by 2140?

In the meantime, there are still very few black ballerinas, especially in major dance companies. Many continue told they are not “right” for classical ballet, but one wonders how clearly they are seen beyond the color of their skin.

I’d like to note and honor two other remarkable ballerinas. One is the recently deceased Maria Tallchief, considered America’s first prima ballerina and the first Native American to hold that title. The other is Michaela de Prince, a Sierrra Leone adoptee who was told as a child she couldn’t be in the Nutcracker because of her race; she’s now performing with the newly relaunched Dance Theater of Harlem.

To go full circle here, Iman Cosmetics is the 2013 Beauty Sponsor of the Dance Theater.

My granddaughter Zariyah is not yet fully aware of the power of racism in the United States today. She dances for the joy of it, and her long arms and legs are, to me, elegantly right for ballet.

IMG_7961I’m so grateful to those who’ve blazed incredible paths, at great cost, in the name of art and of what is beautiful and right.