Last year, I released a song entitled, “By Myself.” Many “experts” advised me to license the song to a more “popular” and “established” artist. In their opinion, the song was “too big” for me. I was aware of the benefits that come with licensing a song to a major artist, but this song was different. This was MY STORY, MY PHILOSPHY, and MY DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE from the doubts and limitations placed on my life by others. In spite of certain adversity, I decided to pursue my dream… even if I had to go on “By Myself.”

 

Since the release of the song, I’ve received a myriad of testimonials about the impact this song has on people’s lives. Some have been encouraged to start their own businesses, or move on from unhealthy relationships. Even cancer patients have reported that it gives them strength as they fight to beat their illness. Heading into Black History Month this year, one story grabbed my special attention.

 

On January 18, 2016, I received a call from my friend, Birmingham District 4 School Board member, Daagye Hendricks. With great jubilation, she said, “Alvin, you have a HIT! This young man just tore the roof off singing your song at his Martin Luther King Day program.” Jaeden Henderson, a 7th grader at Phillips Academy, had chosen to sing “By Myself” at his school’s MLK program. I knew I had to meet Jaeden. A few days later, I was fortunate to meet with Jaeden and his mother at my recording studio. Although I was flattered that he chose to sing my song, I was more interested to learn what inspired him to do so.

 

I was delighted to hear Jaeden’s response when I asked him to tell his story. “’By Myself’ is very inspirational,” he said, “It speaks volumes, and it makes people believe you can go on by yourself.” He told his classmates, “Before I sing this song, I want you to think about what others had to go through back in the days. I want you to visualize what Rosa Parks went through, and what Dr. Martin Luther King went to jail for. They went through this for us.” He said, “Mr. Garrett, I wanted people to understand that this song is not saying ‘Go on to the grocery store by yourself.’ It’s about making sacrifices, taking chances, and going on by faith.”

 

Jaeden Henderson, a 7th grader, found the distinct connection between the words of my song and the mindset of those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today. Jaeden truly understands that we must go “From History To Vision.” As we study Black History, it’s imperative that we appreciate and emulate the attitude of “The Individual”. That young lady sitting in the “Whites Only” section at that restaurant knew the dangers that awaited her on the road to a brighter future; but she sat down anyway. That young man getting hosed down and attacked by dogs in the streets of Birmingham, AL believed enough in the dream to go on…even if he had to go on by himself.

 

During the last week of Black History Month, Jaeden and I will be visiting various middle schools in the Birmingham area performing “By Myself” and encouraging other’s to go on “From History To Vision.” We hope to inspire other young people to dream big, be leaders, and move forward…even if it means going on By Yourself. As the song states:

I’ve been rejected way too many times in my life

I won’t take “no” for an answer Anymore!

Seems all these walls have been erected to stop my dreams

I won’t let that be a factor anymore!

 

If you won’t stand with me, If you won’t go with me

I’m gonna go on By myself!

If you won’t fight with me, If you don’t believe in me

I’m gonna walk on By myself!

 

I’ve got this burning fire deep in my soul

And I can’t escape this lonely, lonely flame.

My journey may go down an old, rugged road

But, I keep on pressing ‘cause I’m not afraid anymore.

 

If you won’t stand with me, If you won’t go with me

I’m gonna go on By myself!

If you won’t fight with me, If you don’t believe in me

I’m gonna walk on By myself!

 

I can see clearly now. Finally I opened my eyes

My future’s my responsibility

I realize that if nobody helps carry my cross,

I still gotta go on.

 

 

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