Hello Theresa! Thank you so much for speaking with Geek Vibes Nation about your upcoming children’s book, You So Black. Could you start by telling our readers about yourself and your work?
I am Theresa tha SONGBIRD, singer, spoken word artist, Actress, multimedia artist. Most of the work I do is in performance, Entertainment, and the theater. I have a degree in music from Millikin University. I also have a background in education.
Could you talk about the origins of your poem, You So Black? What your inspiration to create it? What was the writing process like? How did your background in music help?
You So Black came into existence during a time where I was devoting energy to creating art to encourage people who looks like me. Writing the poem put me in a space where I could represent both my ancestors and the future generations of people of color, so the words truly flowed with ease.
I remember seeing the now viral recitation of the poem and being in awe of its beauty and the life you brought to the words. What was your reaction to the video going viral?
I am continually humbled by the growing viral views of my video. Just knowing that so many people resonate with the poem brings warmth to my heart, and validates the work that I am doing.
What made you decide to turn the poem into a children’s picture book?
The journey to having my poem become a children’s book is truly the vision of Denene Millner, my publisher. It is her tenacity that brought this project to light.
Although the poem and book are speaking about African Americans, I feel like so many people of color will resonate with the words. The book has such a universal appeal, and I was wondering if that was a conscious choice while writing?
Absolutely! I am truly of the mind that we are all one on this planet. So it is my hope that all people feel included in the text, and resonate with the power of the words.
There’s been a lot of talk about colorism across society and media. Did you envision this book as sort of taking a stand against the mistreatment those with darker skin are subjected to? (Note: I hope this isn’t out of line, and I would understand if you’d rather I omit this question.)
I envisioned this poem having the ability to take a stand against the mistreatment of all people of the diaspora. We have all had our own internal and external struggles as people of color, all over the world. My hope is that hearing and reading these words puts a seed of self love in any heart that resonates with that experience.
London Ladd gives life to your words beautifully. What was that collaboration like?
Working with a London Ladd was truly the easiest collaboration I have ever been a part of! He did not require any direction, he was truly inspired in his art by the words of my poem. I personally am very moved by the art presented on each and every page. The colors, the texture, the intention is all so bright, unique and beautiful.
You’re such an accomplished creator. I wanted to ask what advice would you give those who dream of following in your footsteps?
To anyone who wishes to pursue a career in the arts I would encourage you to become an excellent reader. Fall in love with learning. Be willing to accept criticism and critique. Also do not be afraid to fail, rewrite and edit.
What would you say is the main takeaway for people, black or otherwise, after they finish reading this book?
The main take away for readers of this children’s book should be that you are a spectacular being. You are made from the same energy as the stars. You are powerful and wonderful beyond measure.
Can you talk about any other upcoming projects you’re working on?
I am currently working on illustrator collaborations for my second children’s book, which I am very excited about! I’m also continually performing across the country.
Where can our readers connect with you online?
You can find me online at thasongbird.com and on all social media platforms @thasongbird
Be sure to grab a copy of You So Black everywhere books are sold on January 10th, 2023.
THERESA THA S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D. (she/her/hers) is a Grammy–nominated musical, lyrical and theatrical alchemist, sprinkling magiclike hot sauce. She is best known for her appearance on the 2019 Trumpet Awards on Bounce TV, and the now viral recitation of “You So Black,” which has garnered 11 million views and counting. She has gone to perform with the likes of Jill Scott, MC Lyte, and Jazmine Sullivan, and appears on famed pianist Robert Glasper’s newest album. Theresa is from the south suburbs of Chicago but calls Atlanta home. She holds a degree in commercial music from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.
Writer. Video Essayist. Film/TV Critic. Pop Culture Enthusiast.
When he isn’t writing for Geek Vibes Nation or creating content for his YouTube channel, Tristian can be found typing away at the young adult novel he has been working on for three years.