Theresa tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D. went viral for her performance of her definitive and soul-stirring poem "You So Black" during the 2019 Trumpet Awards. She's gone on to snag a Grammy nomination, and now her journey has led her to see "You So Black" adapted into her first children's book. For her debut children's book, she worked with critically acclaimed illustrator London Ladd. The combined efforts of their artistry has produced a gorgeous and poignent picture book that is a must have for every home and classroom library. I had the utmost pleasure of interviewing Theresa tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D. Enjoy reading her thoughts, and make sure you pick up You So Black.
- Congratulations on your children's book debut! What surprised you about the writing process?
I was surprised by the ease in this writing process. I spent many years being intimidated to write a book. I self-published a book and it was a long process and a learning process. But getting this book published was fairly easy and quite enjoyable.
- What would you say to encourage kids that are interested in the arts/performance art (poetry, spoken word, etc)?
To anyone pursuing a love or an interest in the arts; in music, in poetry, in acting, in creating any art at all - I encourage you to enjoy being a learner, and a student. I encourage you to take critique and criticism with grace. I encourage you to be willing to fail, be willing to rewrite and to edit and to assess the work that you create.
- How would you like to see "You So Black" used in classrooms and educational settings?
I would love to see my book used as an introduction to poetry for young readers. It has already become material recited at Black History Month and Martin Luther King Jr celebrations and assemblies, so in would love to see it used in teaching of African Studies. It is excellent literature for history and anthropology as well.
- Now that you've seen the final product of "You So Black", what's your favorite page/spread?
My favorite page is the one that reads Black as me. Black is you. Firstly because the text really hones in on my core belief that as a collection of human beings, we are all one. And secondly, I have two little sisters that are identical twins. Every summer my mother would take us to the beach in Chicago and the illustration reminds me of my sisters and those summers.
- What kind of discussions are you hoping that You So Black will generate?
I’m hoping that You So Black will generate discussions amongst children of color about self love. I’m hoping it will allow children to see themselves in the highest light, and tap into their innate self confidence.
- You've been performing "You So Black" the poem and now we have the picture book! What are you hoping that the legacy of "You So Black" will be?
I want children to continue reciting it at their schools and churches. I want the hearers and readers to feel deeper in love with themselves and our shared histories. When they have children I want them to teach it to their offspring. I want to give generations of our babies the gift of self-love and empowerment.