“Hard to find the right words. Maya Angelou lived her life inspiring, educating, championing, lifting, nourishing, giving, and loving. Her influence on the world, by speaking the truth and sharing her wisdom and her spirit, is immense and unforgettable. She made you want to be a better person. That was her real gift to us all. Rest in peace Dr. Angelou.”
Martina McBride says it best in the above statement regarding one of the most inspirational authors and poets, Maya Angelou, who passed away earlier today at the age of 86.
It was more than ten years ago when Martina McBride met the author for the first time. The two lyrically-powerful women came face to face at a 2003 gala in New York. Maya presented Martina with an award honoring the country singer for using her music to speak out against domestic violence.
Since that day, the two developed a unique bond. Martina even had the privilege of singing Happy Birthday to the author in 2010 in Angelou’s North Carolina home.
Martina has cited Maya Angelou as one of her biggest inspirations. In fact, a 2008 Reader’s Digest featured an essay written by Martina explaining how Maya gave her the courage to write her own songs– something she hadn’t done since becoming a big country star.
Read an excerpt of Martina’s essay below:
I’ve had the chance to meet many astonishing people I never dreamed of knowing when I was growing up on a dairy farm in Kansas. But few have inspired me as much as Maya Angelou.
Maya affects me deeply when I read her writing, but she touches me most of all when I hear her speak. Her voice is so rich and commanding; she has such peace and wisdom. You see someone who isn’t perfect-someone who has struggled. There’s a video of her reciting her poem “Still I Rise,” about the nobleness of the human spirit. To see and hear her do it – to watch her say, “I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide/Welling and swelling I bear in the tide” – that’s very powerful. I showed it to my daughters Delaney and Emma, and they loved it as much as I do.
One time when I was talking with Maya, she asked me why I didn’t write songs. I didn’t have a good answer for that. Maya said that sometimes we’re afraid to push ourselves, to really reach as far as we can, because we’re afraid that when we succeed, the world will ask more of us. That statement stunned me. It made me realize I just needed to go for it. So I’m proud to say I co-wrote three songs on my 2007 album, “Waking Up Laughing.”
Maya opened my eyes to the power of my words. I now take care to use words wisely and with integrity.
Among the results of Martina’s newfound drive to write songs was her hit Anyway.