We’ve all given up something at the first available opportunity as some point in our lives – looks too difficult; takes too much time; someone will do the same thing better than us. But then there are setbacks people suffer which are in a different league – the loss of a loved one, health issues, or, in the case of breakout Afro-pop star Jay Q The Legend, childhood abuse.
Physically and emotionally abused by his stepfather when a young child, JayQ would have had every right to spend the rest of his life seeking sympathy and looking for the easy route. However – and there’s no way of being subtle about this – the top lawyer, private pilot, plane-owning, Suzuki classical bike owning, musical behemoth is an abject lesson how what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
“Songs were a place for me to escape. Hiding in my room and getting lost in a verse was my safe place. I would write and write songs, hoping not to be found. I lived with just my mother and stepfather during these years of beatings. The rest of my family, my father and grandparents were in the British Virgin Islands far away from St. Croix. The trauma physical abuse leaves on a child is unforgiveable. When a man is violent to his family, he passes down a legacy of insecurity and anger. How does one enter manhood and climb out of this?”
The story continues – at a point when it felt life could become no more unbearable, his stepfather was murdered:
“My world started spinning. I tried college but couldn’t focus. I was flunking out. It was too much, home was still not safe, and college was not far enough away from my mother’s voice on the phone sharing her pain. However, always inside me was that will, the will to survive and be successful… to overcome my history. It took so much energy and fight, but I was determined to beat the odds. I decided I had to learn to fight, so I signed up on the college campus to become a military solider. I would go on to be a platoon leader in marines training, get my college degree, as well as an MBA and JD. Finally, my stepfather passed away, but I still had to fix what he broke inside me – I was lucky to have my creative gifts to escape with during my darkest moments, because I am not sure I would have had been able to overcome the years of trauma otherwise.
Unfortunately, well into my adulthood, the abuse did not end. I was subject to another kind of abuse, institutionalised racism as a professional in the American south. It was awful to be held to a different standard than the privileged, less qualified and competent than me. Black men had to be better than everyone to be seen. That is another story, not a pretty picture of living in America. The United States of America is currently struggling to uncover the truth and impact of racism and move forward with enlightenment and compassion.
All through this, I was writing music. As I became more focused as an artist, I was fascinated with the power of good relationships. Most of my songs are about the passion and power balance in healthy relationships between men and women. A beautiful, mutually positive relationship is a dream worth writing and singing about to me.”
Much is said in relation to the therapeutic and curative powers of of writing, performing and listening to music but there can scarcely be a better demonstration than JayQ. “The Legend” might seem like horrific self-aggrandising but in this case, maybe it doesn’t even go far enough. Well played, JayQ. Check him out below.