A TRIBUTE TO WOMEN

by Jeremy Danté

naomi

for me, women rule this world. im not talking about their struggles, i wont get into statistics or even mention the glass ceiling. im saying, my world- a combination of beautiful moments & glorified struggle- this is where women are held in the highest esteem. the single largest impact of my life, has & always will be my mother. as the eldest of three, raised by a single mother- i learned of poise, tenacity & endurance from her. in learning the difference between a pair of heels or coordination from one skirt to the next, in these moments of my youth my level of taste was born. standards were formed. as i evolved, this emulation of women remained an outstanding theme for what resonates with me spiritually. women- i admire. women? i celebrate.

my earliest inspiration has been celebrated here, her name is whitney houston. the original black barbie, her voice is still to this day untouched. a goal for vocalists & an alluring presence often emulated by superstars of today. there will never be another whitney houston, ever. this space cannot be filled, her legacy relived? never. as we moved into the 1990’s a curly haired mixed girl by the name of mariah sonically penetrated the airwaves & changed the game forever- these women would continue to bring me comfort, reliability in dreams & inspiration through performance. to this day, these women have significantly impacted the ways i judge talent through presence, vocality & poise. music had served as the headlining element of inspiration for me from the very beginning of my life, before i was able to speak. it would continue to guide me through personal struggle, self development & would act as a cultural pulse, well- it still is all of those things for me, despite the fact that the industry has changed in many ways.

as i grew, whitney & mariah continued to dominate through millions of album sales & accolades to match. but as the 90’s moved forward, there was one female talent that struck a chord in a different manner. her voice wasn’t a juggernaut force that hit you in the chest knocking the wind out of you. there was a soft feminine grace & subtlety there- a mystique. she sang the lyrics, “let me know…” beckoning you through the radio the summer of 1994. aaliyah, a name that means the highest most exalted one, lives up to every bit of it’s definition. as an innovator, someone self assured & confident, eternally cool- aaliyah remains an angelic source of timeless futurism for me, and to real fans at the core of R&B music. aaliyah’s black shades & lose silhouette was the second form of masculinity in womenswear i had seen following my earlier interest in TLC. these worlds of style became blurred, from the gowns on whitney & mariah, to the baggy multi-colors of TLC & now the mystified jeep culture that aaliyah derived from- all these ideas of multi-dimension through women inspired my world even further. toni braxton hit the scene in 1992, teaching me about seduction & the power of a weighted vocal prowess. these women combined would become played, rewound & replayed throughout my childhood. when not being played in my walkman, they ruled the radio airways, appeared on stage at the grammy’s & ultimately allowed me to understand the power of beauty. all this before i really started paying attention to supermodels.

in fashion, they often ask the designers before or after their shows, “what type of woman is she?” – referring to the type of female the collection is embodying through character, we start to see a presence in the clothes. this is where fashion lives for me- it’s about power through design, allowing a story to be told. in recognizing women, it’s completely necessary to acknowledge how large a source of inspiration they are. without discount to men, there is a greater mystique about women all across the board. in the musical market today, and most commonly in fashion since, well, forever- women dominate. some of the most successful designers in fashion are women, and often times iconic male designers cite their mother’s as early inspiration. my love for supermodels is no secret & has been represented here through my work. it’s the reason i got that tweet from kanye, and the reason i was contacted by ryan leslie a few years prior to that. in keeping a record of my inspiration, and in-turn my evolution, my love for women seeks further method of definition constantly. these thoughts clutter my mind. though precious, sometimes sinister but always alluring- the ways that we love women can often be misunderstood & taken out of context.

as i have stated prior, the work i will embark on for the remainder of this year will provide a clear understanding for where my inspiration both lives & dies. where it has begun & where it transcends into a space of limitlessness. women will remain a beacon of inspiration for me, as society is still struggling to define their greatness in our world. from girls to women, from boys to men- if we cannot understand the value of women we can never be equal as individuals who are gay, of color, rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy. this is all a matter of understanding our root to realize our true growth potential. this is what women represent for me. existing far beyond the realm of gay & straight, or societal categorization- love is love & i regard it as respect. as a record of my own inspiration, let women be the starting point that will see no end. this makes me no less a man, but stronger as an individual because i understand so thoroughly who i am; which enables me to understand where i’ve come from- a woman, my mother.

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