"We need to not only find ourselves but we need to find a way to each other. It’s really hard to show up fully for others if you haven’t shown up for yourself. It’s really hard to have the hard conversations we need to have right now, so that we can move together collectively, so that we can tend our relationships, if we haven’t done that for ourselves. I think it’s really hard to make courageous choices as artists if we haven’t done that work. Because our fear and the things that we are hiding from inside of us will govern us. And it will never be the brave choice. It will never be the free thing. It will never be all that we are capable of. And I think it’s hard to hold onto our wealth if we haven’t done that, because we won’t on some level believe that we deserve it."
Sharon Bridgforth is a writer and performing artist who collaborates with actors, singers, dancers, and audiences to share works that explore, celebrate, and put forward African American migration stories and performance traditions. The work is also a form of prayer to tell stories, transform, remember, and pass on language of the heart with the intention to bring us all along and create space to be shaped together.
A strong interest in reading as a child led to a life of writing that was mostly kept hidden for many years. At the insistence and encouragement of others Sharon started to share the work which turned out to be well suited for performance. That was the beginning of a long career which has always emphasized creating and nurturing long term collaborative relationships with people of different backgrounds. These experiences for the performers and the audience allow for deeper connections with others and ourselves.
What a treat to be able to sit down with Sharon and talk about living as and artist. Such wisdom and grace and clarity. In the interview we talk about Sharon’s beginnings and there is a big emphasis on the importance of relationships, and financial stability and knowledge. And most importantly what is in the way that is keeping you from living with joy? Have a listen and share any feedback or thoughts you might have and be sure to check out Sharon's writings and performances!
Some of the subjects we discuss:
The great migration
Starting to write
Not one sided
Circles of relationship
dat Black Mermaid Man Lady
love/rituals & rage
Living as an artist
How to live joy
A way to each other
Role of the artist
Prayer and ritual
Banner image by Nia Witherspoon
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Intro music generously provided by Stan Killian
- Sharon Bridgforth- website
- Sharon Bridgforth - Wikipedia
- allgo.org | a statewide queer people of color organization
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration: Isabel Wilkerson
- UT College of Liberal Arts: Omi Osun Joni L. Jones
- dat Black Mermaid Man Lady
- Home Project — dat Black Mermaid Man Lady
- Women & Their Work
- Genevieve Vaughan | Author, Philosopher, The Gift Economy