Saturday, October 22, 2005

Shout Out for Disability Culture

I guess I am a diehard skeptic, or at least more dubious that I realized I was. I never thought I would experience disablity culture in a truly arts culture way heading out to the clubs last night, but "hallelujah" I was wrong. Instead I stumbled upon a Summa Cum Lade experience combining disability culture, Deaf culture, and a cool intertergenerational vibe. Mike happened upon an interview and the notice about an upcoming show over the internet, and together with my friend Matina we set out for our inocuous coffeehouse, the 50 year old Staten Island Club for the Deaf. If you were to attempt to characterize us, our group was composed of a middle class able-bodied white male, a physically disabled feminist and a beautiful French-speaking Liberian. We certainly didn't feel like we were a 'typical' audience for this club. But somehow when we entered this small, retro-looking cafe, our identities seemed to merge and at the same time became magnified and more defined. I sat next to this chic looking woman with so much classical, artsy essence coming from her outward as well as inner presentation. She initiated conversation (small talk) with me, an act that flattered me. As we progressed in our conversation I suddenly realized I was hanging with the performer that we came to see. Her unassuming, modest demeanor didn't surprise me, though. Usually the bigger the talent the smaller the scaffolded ego.



This woman, Melody Gardot, is a huge talent. She sings her songs without pretense, just as she interacts with strangers who she has never met. Her voice was confident and mature. a direct contrast to her fresh, youthful appearance. At times, it was hard to wrap my head and spirit around her persona . She sang the narrative of a life I had myself experienced; how could she know these feelings, this wisdom, this cruel reality, this power to toss your head and look people in the eye, letting them know you're going to be who you're going to be? I don't know whether Melanie identifies herself with the worn and tattered disability rights community but if she doesn't, that's alright ... it's all good. Better than good. It's fine and Melanie Gardot is a colorful, striking swath of fabric, essential to creating the more vivid and striking Disability Culture quilt of the twenty-first century.
Melody's personal website - http://www.myspace.com/melody
Melody's professional site - http://www.melodygardot.com
Original interview Mike read - http://www.phillyfuture.org/node/1759
(overly dramatic, but I'm glad I found it! MD)

2 comments:

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