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Since May 30th, our global society has been transforming itself into a chaotic wake up call with the issue of police brutality and the continuous evidence of minorities not having the same equity of life as those who fall under white privilege.

I’ve had my share of unlearning the white man’s knowledge of American History, and growth over the years when it comes to American History, and I continue to put aside my own trauma and issues to sit and radically listen to my peers to hear their stories and allow them to provide me facts and evidence of their reality, while I proved my own radical listening, empathy, and understanding.

Right now they are tired. They are tired of talking without anyone listening. The are tired of the questions from those who simply have a hard time comprehending. They are tired of the “All Lives Matter” debacle that goes against the reality of blacks being 3x more likely to be shot and killed by police. They are simply tired.

I have a responsibility of a film maker and a film lover, to take the time to put together my top ten favorite strong black lead films and/or series that provide legitimate educational value for those who want a better understanding of the systematic oppression our fellow Americans have suffered through for the past 400 years, as well as, some of the greatest icons in black history that may or may have not been in your history textbooks growing up.

All I ask from this list is be aware of the fictional aspects of the films and take the time to dig into a deeper research of the events within the topics and figures provided with each film. I am asking, for those willing to listen and learn to do with empathy, while watching these stories, and don’t forget the Kleenex, because you will need them.

  1. Roots (Hulu): An adaptation of the 1977 mini-series, Roots chronicles the history of an African man sold to slavery in America, and his descendants. 

  2. Harriet (Rent/Vudu): The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman‘s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

  3. MalcolmX (Netflix): Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.

  4. 13th (Netflix): An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.

  5. I Am Not Your Negro (Amazon Prime): Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.

  6. Selma (Amazon Prime): A chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.

  7. The Hate U Give (Rent/Vudu): Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.

  8. DETROIT (Hulu): A gripping story of one of the most terrifying moments during the civil unrest that rocked Detroit in the summer of ’67.

  9. Just Mercy (Rent/Vudu): World-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner.

  10. When They See Us (Netflix): Five teens from Harlem become trapped in a nightmare when they’re falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park. Based on the true story.

    Honorary mentions: Marshall (Netflix), LA92 (Netflix), Teach Us All (Netflix), Ali (Amazon Prime), 12 Years a Slave (Rent)…

Legendary A.T is a multi-talented artist who’s musical passion has brought her multitude strides of courage and unapologetic attitude towards her craft to tell her very own story. Now I sit here and spend some time with her as I present to her a platform to tell her story with us.  IMG_8609

In your own words, who is Legendary A.T?

Legendary A.T is a singer, songwriter, rapper & musician from Lonoke, Arkansas. I’m extremely passionate about music and creates it when I feel that I have something to say. I’m a real artist who only speaks on real life experiences that I’ve been through.

How did you come up with your stage name, Legendary A.T? What does the acronym or initials, A.T stand for in your name?

‘Legendary’ was inspired by Bob Marley’s Legend album. When I was introduced to his music, I began researching him and reading up about who he was. I was inspired by what he stood for as an artist. I wanted to choose a name that would represent who I am and what I want to achieve, which is someone who would stand out with a distinctive style of music that people can relate to. I want my music to live on forever. I want to always touch and motivate the people who listens to it, even if it’s 20 or 30 years from now.  A.T represents the first and last initials of my last name which is Angela Terry.

What’s the story of how you got into music? How long have you been working as an artist?

I’ve been a musician since I was 7 or 8. I started out playing the drums at church, and as I get older I’ve always knew that I wanted to sing and rap from being inspired by Lauryn Hill. I began writing poetry and song lyrics when I was 14. I started pursuing music and recording professionally in 2016 with Ferocious Production Studios here in Little Rock.

Were you also magnified towards music, or did you once gravitate to a different route in your life?

Music has always been apart of me for as long as I can remember. Saturday mornings, in the early 90s, I used to hear my mom listen to artist like Sade, Anita Baker, and Howard Hewitt when she would clean our home. I knew since I was a kid that I wanted to do music. It just felt right. I come from a family of musicians.

You just released your second album, S. Murray (A Different Side). How is this album different from your first? How did you come up with the title of your new album?

S.Murray (A Different Side) differs from my  Back To Me, album because the messages in my lyrics are a bit more in depth with what I’ve experienced and endured from me speaking about being molested. I’m able to show people my creative storytelling abilities. Also, my different styles of writing music I do without traditionally being categorized to just one genre. I’m able to create from all angles, hence the title, (A Different Side). The S.Murray portion of my album title was named after a close friend who inspired a few songs on the album. I began writing music for the album back in 2017.

You had the privilege of collaborating with Tray Chaney on a song on your new album. How did that come about and what was it like to work with a well-known artist like Tray Chaney?

I’ve followed Tray’s career since HBO’s The Wire series when he played ‘Poot’. Years later, he appeared on one of my favorite shows Saints and Sinners as Kendrick. I began following him on Instagram, and I started seeing him post about his music.  It was different, unique and positive. Tray has his own style, so I reached out and after a year of trying to get in contact with his people, we finally connected. I like his vibe. He’s a super humble and laid back individual.  I explained the concept of the song and that I wanted to feature him on, I sent it over, and the rest was history. I think he’s an amazing talented,  inspiring, motivational artist whom I’d like to work with again!

Do you have other artists on your bucket list that you would love to work with?

I would love to work with Lauryn Hill, Seal, Sade, Phil Collins, and Paul Hardcastle. I’m a huge fan of their crafts.

How does it personally feel to have your own billboard ad in your state to promote your new album?

It’s always felt surreal to me, because I’m not a mainstream artist, as of yet, and we mostly only see major artists on billboards. I had imagined seeing my face on different billboards within Arkansas and other places, and I’ve made that happen. It is amazing and I feel somewhat accomplished in a way.

For an artist in Arkansas, what would the audience not know of the career development compared to those that are artists in a metropolitan area like Atlanta, Los Angeles, or New York?

Nothing comes easily. Being from Arkansas, you have to work hard to be heard, because there’s not a big market for music here although Arkansas is filled with talent. If you’re not consistent and willing to go that extra mile by marketing yourself, you’ll never be heard in my opinion.

What is something about Arkansas, or even the people, that you would like to share that outsiders probably wouldn’t know about the state? What keeps you to stay, rather than taking your career to another city?

Arkansas has some of the best musical talents, actors, and  historical icons such as Civil Rights crusader Daisy Bates, Former surgeon general Joycelyn Elders (who was the first black woman to hold that post position in country), Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Poet/Actress Maya Angelou, Scottie Pippen, Al Green, Billy Bob Thornton, etc… all hail from Arkansas. I love the history here, plus most of my family is in Arkansas. It’s my home.

Do you feel the availability of social platforms and our modern tech world has helped those in more remote areas to be discovered?

Absolutely! I’ve heard so many artists have become overnight sensations with sites such as SoundCloud. You can upload your music and you never know who may hear it, and just like that an artist’s song could become a hit record.

In your album, S. Murray (A Different Side), the interlude “No Love for You” spoke out to me. Especially the line, “Told me, I shouldn’t have told people who molested me…” That’s a powerful interlude. What gives Legendary A.T her strength and her voice? What gave you the influence to speak out about that raw aspect of your story? Does it help that it gives others, who feel they don’t have a voice, something to relate to?

I get my strength from God and my supporters. Some people are  afraid to speak up about being abused. One of the main reasons people don’t speak out about being abused is, because they feel that no one will believe them, or they may receive backlash as I did when I outed my molester back in 2017. I did not have much support from my family. Some tried to make me feel as if I was bringing shame on my family.

Overcoming that hurt is why I write these type of raw lyrics, so that my supporters will know how I was treated, and I will use my voice and be support system to other victims out there. I never completely allowed certain family members to tear me down when I’m  a survivor of molestation. I felt as if they tried to regulate my healing process by saying things such as “I should let it go and forgive” or that “I shouldn’t have spoken openly about it”. I was even told by someone that me speaking about being molested could ruin me trying to to pursue music, but I never listened to them.

What other projects are you working on now? What’s next for Legendary A.T?
What should we expect from you in 2020?

I’m always constantly writing music, and I’ve been invited on a few projects as a featured artist, which you’ll be hearing soon. My goal by 2020 is to be known worldwide. A artist who touches people with my music. I will also like to have my 3rd released by fall of 2020. That’s the goal.

Your talents expand from singing, to playing the drums, to playing the acoustic guitar. Would you have a hidden talent that your fans may not know of?

I’ve always been an aspiring massage therapist. I’ve always been great with my hands, so yea, that’s one of my many talents. I enjoy relaxing people, because of the benefits your body gets  by getting massages. I used to make money in High School giving messages during class to my teachers and some classmates. I would give them shoulder massages or hand massages and they’d fall asleep (laughs). That’s when I knew I had a special gift.

2db2aa9b-ca54-43e2-8fe5-0bdf3df5cce6A special someone in my life told me last night that, “We can’t heal alone…” and that’s been sticking with me all day. He is right, so for those who sincerely been loving and supporting me, if it seems I am taking you for granted, I deeply apologize. I promise, I am not.

Survival mode is a pain to climb out of after decades of fighting demons alone. Figured I switch up and express my gratitude, instead of allowing my mind to resort to the worse case scenario in my position. You are appreciated beyond words.

…and for those who are trying to take efforts beyond measures to ensue my accomplishments and success, I am trying to open myself, but the leap of faith is my current biggest fear in my life, especially of having crashed and burned by someone I took a leap of faith on fairly recently. I’m still healing…

JUST IN CASE SOMEONE NEEDS TO HEAR THIS:

Some days are very frustrating in the healing process and forgiving yourself for your past. Especially when you are alone or feel you’re alone in this life.

I frustrate myself most as my own worse enemy.

It’s easy to fake happiness when in reality everything in your life is on fire. Friends and family become strangers, therefore you’re not sure if you are capable to trust those who simply want to love and care for your heart. You work day in and day out to extinguish the flames around you.

Why alone? Cause most people don’t give a shit about your life or your story. Point, blank. However, as I grow older and continue my healing process, I come to the realization that it doesn’t matter. You cannot heal yourself on other’s expectations and other’s schedules. Why do I know this so well?

I grew up and still experience an environment where my emotions or my lifestyle doesn’t matter. I grew up where nobody has ever put me first or respect my voice.

Results in this are: one, I also have never put myself first, and two, I’ve crashed and burn like a broken record repeatedly by putting everyone else before my own.

For majority of the people in my life, walls and boundaries are set and I use two personalities (Yay, Geminis!), the strong, quiet personality and/or the goofy/high energy personality to help deteriorate any possible negative energy disguised in human form.

The consequence, genuine people in my life could easily come and go by misunderstanding me as a spiritual being.

As a spiritual being, I’m training myself to a different resolution. I’m learning to read people’s energy, rather than resort to the assumptions that everyone is bad juju.

It is a challenge for your heart and mind. Especially for those who travel a similar path like mine, but trust me when I say it gets better as you start creating a barrier that’s actually healthy.

You slowly learn to not put up with the bullshit that’s toxic and the genuine people see you for who you truly are as a beautiful, gifted soul. Most importantly, you start loving yourself and finding your confidence.

But how do we know we are progressing in our self healing and self love? Life starts to magnify you towards your goals and dreams in life and love.

💜🦄🖤

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Day to day, I keep questioning myself…
How do I express my feelings without offending you?
I guess you should have thought twice,
Before you put me through what you put me through.
How would you feel if I revealed the truth,
The real roots of my PTSD and the rest of my mental issues?
Still today, I’d rather be back at the front lines of war,
Then be on the home front, being repeatedly reminded of my childhood nightmares.
The noisy citizenry is now wondering where, what, why?
Do I dare to even open that door?
The door to my closet, where skeletons lay all over the floor.
Piling up as if I am just a professional hoarder,
My closet is a mess; it’s all out of order with the door half-broken.
I am almost thirty, and I still fear of having children.
The fact I fear the most is being like my parents.
Do I dare explain it on my end?
My emotions have hit rock bottom.
I don’t know any other way to release them without the bottle.
Personally, that’s my problem. Once an angel, now fallen.
I got to try to find a way for my heart to blossom,
before it hardens and becomes rotten.
I am almost thirty, and I still fear of permanent commitment.
My father expressed it with his actions, through his heartless abandonment.
I was never taught properly how women should be treated by men.
I mean, where was he when ma found out I was being molested?
So when a good man is found, I just find a way to end it.
I act as if I have a lack of confidence, but really I am just full of my conscience.
People stress to me that I should let my past go,
Easy for you to say considering you never been in my shoes.
Behind closed doors was a whole different show that was played for the views.
Til this day, I still get the abrupt end of verbal abuse.
Til this day, I’m trying to find a way to heal the scars and massage the bruises,
Without necessary making accuses with my distancing excuses.
So the only way I’ll be able to let it go is if I talk about it.
It’s unfortunate that I never got the professional help I needed as a kid.
I guess my writing and my spoken words are a reaction for what should have been.
Before blame is put on me, look in the mirror and think of the things you did.
This poem reveals that my rage and my resentment, is still alive and kicking’
But instead of beating around the bush with the little white lies, I’m only being honest.
Isn’t that what you wanted? Even if it’s written, although I am feeling a bit smitten?
Is it a crime that I’ve given you a sneak peak into my flaw-filled closet?
My pain through a rear-view mirror, just a bunch of ugly roots.
This was just a preview of a chapter that is to be continued….

2014©H.M.Gautsch