I was 20 years old during my first visit to Paris in November 2015. My trip ended one day before the tragic November 13th Paris terrorist attacks. Like the rest of the world, I was struck by shock and grief. This changed everything. Yet, what impacted me the most was the French movement that took place immediately after. Seeing the unity and the strength amongst all citizens – everyone out on the street, bringing flowers, coming together as one – that to me was the essence of the Parisian motto, “Fluctuat nec mergitur” (tossed but not sunk) and a major representation of fraternité.
My heart was profoundly touched upon reading various statements such as, “Vous n’aurez pas ma haine”, the powerful open letter written by Antoine Leiris, who had lost his wife in the attack. He wrote: “I won’t give you this gift of hating you. You’ve looked for it, yet responding to hate out of anger would be giving into the same ignorance that made you who you are. You want me to be afraid, that I look at my fellow citizens with a suspicious eye, that I sacrifice my freedom for safety. You lost.” Who could not be moved by the father who told his child, “They may have guns, but we have flowers.”
Six years after that horrible attack, the surviving victims and the families of victims lost, continue to demonstrate incredible strength and solidarity as many sit in court the past few months to witness the prosecution of ten men accused in the November 13 terrorist attacks.
I am not born French, but I am Parisian at heart.
I’ve adopted this country as my own. The tenacity and resilience of Parisians, their French spirit energize and inspire me to be my best. I love the French, dearly, and no “bad experience” or “negative encounter” will take that away.
In 2018, I decided to leave the US, where I was living at the time, and returned to Paris for an opportunity to work on music with two brilliant French producers. It was a major career switch that I knew I wanted to make. Reuniting with Paris felt like a faraway dream, yet how could I just move abroad? After a midnight self-reflection walk at Champs de Mars after missing my flight back to the USA, I called an Uber pool where sure enough, I met a sympathetic young woman who introduced me to the American University of Paris.
In February 2020, the opportunity to return finally arose when I was accepted into the American University of Paris to study commmunications, which also allowed me to work on my music at full force. Days later, the first Covid-19 pandemic lock-down was announced.
However, the pandemic could not stop me from leaving. Every part of my being was confident that this was the direction to go in. Since my move to Paris, I have found my identity and felt even more connected with my faith. I have experienced the painful but necessary process of building strength and resilience, and have spread love to those who needed a word.
I am currently working hard on my upcoming EP and my bachelor’s degree in Global Communications. I’m currently working with my band and we plan to debut very soon with new music. In the meantime, I’ve been growing flowers. I’ve seen them blossom and quickly wither away, whilst new buds grow in their place waiting to bloom. That’s the best way to represent my exchanges with people in Paris from all backgrounds and nationalities. They come and go in my life. I see them bloom, care for them, and new ones come in their place. What matters is what I can contribute to those whose paths I cross. Some may be in my life for a paragraph, some a sentence, some a word, and some a period. But maybe some could be there until the last chapter.
Paris is an inspiring city, with undeniable beauty all around. There is, of course, visual beauty from the sunsets behind these marvelous Haussmannian homes to the cobblestone pathways. But there is also a beauty that cannot be seen and must be felt. It’s the beauty of exchanges with strangers, and moments of memorable deep conversations with one another. Humanity and its emotions, the feeling of hope. That’s what I have experienced here and it’s what energizes me to write new metaphors within each verse.
During my time here, my music has been on the soundtrack of the French film, “La Terre Des Hommes” and has been featured on the Official Tetris App in 2022. There’s also a drink named after my song, “Blood Money” at LaSkab, a newly opened bar in Le Marais. This spring, I have two musical releases coming out – with DJ BAF on March 18 and with Tom Bailey on March 16.
For now, I leave you with my favorite word in French, which is “devenir” – never forget that life is ever-changing and the “becoming” can happen all of a sudden.