It’s been well over 20 years now since I first set foot on America soil. Here I was, a refugee from Nigeria, being told at every corner that this is the country to be all that I can be. I believed it! I knew the hardships and uncertainties I was leaving behind in my home country Nigeria, and I was dreaming big of the wonderful opportunities that lay before me in America.
Although I eventually became a Physical Therapist and was on course to live out my American dream, my journey took a fortunate detour as I realized I could make a great living doing what I truly loved which was being a musician. My passion for music eventually led me to my most memorable show. Even more memorable than my stint on the TV show The Voice, was the time I had the honor of performing for the troops in Guantanamo Bay Cuba in 2011. That by far was my most meaningful gig.
Although I don’t agree with a lot of the politics behind war and exploitation, my time in Cuba afforded me the opportunity to separate the brave from the masses. It afforded me the clarity to separate true service from lip service. You see most politicians play lip service for personal/party gain, while every soldier puts his or her life on the line regardless of party lines. These brave men and women in uniform sacrifice their lives in service for a country that sometimes devalues them. It’s the blessing and the curse of a soldier. Being a military brat myself, I can’t help but have the uttermost respect for anyone that stands in the gap, despite impending harm, for another.
So putting a smile on the faces of these soldiers in GITMO in 2011, absolutely blessed my soul. Nothing can replace the sacrifice of a soldier, but making them dance, sing along and smile is my way of showing my gratitude. I wish every soldier a happy Memorials Day. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten by this refugee turned citizen.
Keep making good music the soundtrack to your life.