What Artists Do

Over the past few days I’ve spent hours on Facebook looking for anything and everything related to Prince.  Old videos, tributes, pictures of bridges turned purple…anything that honors him as the artist he was.  Like nearly everyone, I was so shocked and saddened by his passing, I found myself in a bit of purple mourning.  I couldn’t get the notes of his music out of my head.

I loved Prince’s music like so many others…yet, more than his music, it’s his artistry that truly astounded me.  They may be one in the same for most but to me his artistry is so much louder than his music.  His music was how he communicated his genius and how we experienced his artistry.  His music hit us someplace deep.  Every single time.  From the religious I Would Die 4 U to the haunt of Purple Rain.  He made us feel something when we listened to his songs. {The Beautiful Ones} His music moved us. {When Doves Cry}  Made us smile. {Let’s Go Crazy}  Shocked us. {Darling Nikki}  Overwhelmed us. {Sign O’the Times}  And now it reminds us.  He’s gone but he left us so much.  What a gift!

I learned about Prince’s passing from a text shortly before presenting at the Urban Land Institute in Philly this past week. It was a group text with two other builder friends, Jenn Nowalk from Homes by Dickerson and Michelle Simms from Terramor Homes asking, ‘IS THIS TRUE?!’  Sadly, yes.  We were inconsolably sad cry face emoji over the whole thing.

My favorite tribute so far is by the cast of The Color Purple, led by Jennifer Hudson, eulogizing Prince by singing Purple Rain along with the audience.

What I love most about this tribute is how joyful it is. I actually love more than a few things about it.

I love the woman who starts out singing the first few words of the song sounding a bit like Prince and then abruptly trades that in for a much higher octave…one that is uniquely hers and clearly God given.  The first time I listened, that transition in her voice just shattered me.  The way she took a song we’ve heard 1000 times and made it new again by singing a version all her own. It’s so powerful seeing this tiny woman, hearing her enormous voice and feeling her emotion.  Her artistry is undeniable.

I also love watching her cast members react to her voice.  The woman behind her reaches both hands to her head in disbelief – feeling the full brunt of this woman’s gift and artistry.  Along with everyone around her cheering, encouraging her to keep going, she actually gets better and better…she sings so clearly and her voice is so strong…every note saturated with passion and love.

Then Jennifer Hudson joins in and sings her version.  Totally different.  Completely her own.  Again the cast members rally around her and she sings louder and louder…with joy, with love, with her gift.  At the end she asks the music to be turned down so they can sing with the audience, just their voices.  In tribute.  To maybe one of these most talented musicians ever.  Again, what a gift!

So what does this have to do with a blog about building like a girl?  Pretty much nothing.  Except for the fact that each of us has the potential to be an artist at whatever we do, like Prince.  Each of us holds within us the power to encourage other artists and pay tribute to each other, like the cast of The Color Purple.  Each of us can bear witness to each other’s greatness and respond in a visceral way – hands on our head, waiving the other person on, cheering them to sing louder and louder and louder.  How cool is that?  So maybe not nothing…maybe Prince’s artistry and the tribute to his artistry by other artists has everything to do with what each of us does.  When we do something we love with passion and talent and generosity to other artists, we become artists ourselves.

It’s what, in my opinion, artists do.  They make something or do something wonderful and then they encourage and inspire others to do the same.  Jenn and Michelle and I do that for each other.  Everyone at Garman Homes does that for each other.  The agents at BH&G Go Realty do that for each other.  All the people I had the pleasure to be with and present with at ULI do that for each other.  We are all artists.  Whether you’re a homebuilder, a designer, a lender, an agent, a writer…in all things, let us do them with love, passion, talent and generosity.  We can be a gift to each other.  We can each leave our own legacy.  They may not turn all the bridges and buildings purple in our honor but then again…who knows?  They just might.

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