The earliest song of mine that I can find was written when I was eight years old. At that age, my stories were fabricated and pretty. They mirrored what I wanted life to be about. I ended up as a political, indie, R&B artist, but, as a teenager, I was most drawn to Taylor Swift. What began as a typical fan-girling morphed into a focused study. I began to structure songs like she did: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge. Most importantly, I began to write very specifically about my own life.
After my father left, I was a very silent child. His disappearance cemented that there were things too painful to talk about. Despite my silence, I thought about him all the time. I kept the birthday cards he sent before he completely dropped off the map, and when a postcard from London arrived out of the blue, I salvaged it from the bin where my sister had thrown it. At school I was self-conscious. I tried to keep my “fatherlessness” out of the minds of my white, middle-class peers. At that age, I easily absorbed myths about absent black fathers. I feared being asked questions I had no answers for.