What Naysayers Do For Me: My Imaginary Talk With Michel Martin Thursday 29 December, 2011

Martin, Michel

Michel Martin is an accomplished journalist who hosts my favorite show on NPR, Tell Me More. Earlier this month, I dreamt she and I discussed haters. I used to listen to her show, a lot online (especially the Barbershop and Can I Just Tell You pieces), that aside, I can’t explain how or why I […]

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Michel Martin is an accomplished journalist who hosts my favorite show on NPR, Tell Me More. Earlier this month, I dreamt she and I discussed haters. I used to listen to her show, a lot online (especially the Barbershop and Can I Just Tell You pieces), that aside, I can’t explain how or why I came to have this dream. Now that I think over our conversation, I can really hear her elegant voice asking me these questions in all her charm and refinement. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript of our imaginary talk:

Michel Martin (MM): It’s great to see how Live Unchained is growing. I imagine that with a project as international and dynamic as this you’ve had to deal with a lot of people questioning how it would all come together, doubters.

Me (K): Yeah, I guess everyone who starts an organization has to deal with that– doubters, haters, haterade.

MM: [Lightly laughing] Well, I think of a hater as someone who is also jealous, so I guess I’m not speaking of doubt in that sense, let’s just call them…naysayers.

K: Well, first of all, I know that there is always going to be art that doesn’t resonate with me. And, in that same sense, I don’t expect Live Unchained to resonate with everyone. There are always going to be people that get it, and people that don’t.

And, it helps me to think about artists who I didn’t always get or just felt lukewarm about. For example, I wasn’t too impressed with a lot of what I considered—“poppy R&B” singers. I felt like a lot of their lyrics were cliché and the beats were all starting to sound alike. Later on in their careers, I saw that some of the artists I had lumped in this category were really taking themselves seriously as artists, and not just stars, with innovative music videos. I found myself looking forward to what else they had to put out, paying more attention to what they were saying in interviews, and even defending them against folks I thought were hatin’.

And, you know, that’s what I’d want for Live Unchained. I don’t want people to like us just because someone they know likes us, or someone important gave us a good review. I want Live Unchained to earn a place in people’s hearts, like many artists have for me.

MM: And, what about the people that have been with you from the beginning? I mean, how does what you’ve just said relate to the folks who don’t need you to fight for their hearts because they’ve been wanting a project like this?

K: Well, I think the haters…excuse me, naysayers, are like fuel to them…and me. I think the fact that there are people out there doubting our cause makes the Live Unchained community stronger in their commitment, their support despite the opinions of folks like that just shows that their loyalty isn’t superficial. And, I think it’s the same on a personal level—you know your self-love is strong when other folks’ negative opinions deepen it instead of taking away from it.

MM: It sounds like this has a lot to do with what it means to live unchained as a lifestyle.

K: Yeah, exactly. You can’t wait for other people to get what you’re doing before you start doing it. And, that’s why I carry this post-card Sean Mack designed for us everywhere I go.

[Then I pull out the card above, Michel reads what it says, we cut to commercial, I compliment her on her hair and we talk some more…]

 

 

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