By Erinayo Oyeladun
Every morning on my ride to school, my mother will play songs that she hoped, in her own words, “bless our lives.” Growing up in a Christian home, my mother showed my siblings and me how to use music to praise and give reverence to God. My mother believed in the power of music. She believed in its spiritual essence of having the capacity to steer your life in the right direction. As I started to encounter problems in school and she could see me with increasingly lower self-esteem, my mother added new songs to her playlist; one I specifically remember is “Hall of Fame” by willi.am. But this wasn’t just a mother and her children thing. It was a ritual that also occurred with all my mother’s siblings. Anytime they assisted my mom with picking me up from school, I was constantly introduced to a new genre of music that never ceased to blow my mind.
My mother’s twin, aka Mummy K, will play Afro RnB. She had this go-to album she played from top to bottom without skipping any songs—beautiful imperfections by Asa. It was a mixture of happy and sad songs, some wishful, some more complacent about life.
My mother’s younger sister was more of a millennial, so I listened to a lot of Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, Ciara, Lady Gaga, and the like.
My uncle, however, was more of a Gen Z (even though he likes to term himself a millennial). He was a big Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande fan, constantly bopping his head to Blank Space, Bad Blood, and Break Free.
When I got older and was given my own device, I created my music playlist based on inspiration from my family’s influences. And the more I started implementing my daily music ritual, the more I saw the importance of music in my life and why it was so precious to my family.
Music helped me out of my depression. Many times in high school, I was bullied for always being quirky and nerdy. Even people I called friends sometimes passed snide remarks about me and them having a problem with who I was. To everyone, I was weird (and this was when being different or brilliant was not so cool). This hurt me, but Music was always there to help me. Coldplay, Sia, Ed Sheeran; people who were constantly bullied for their looks shared their stories, and it gave me the courage to accept myself and keep pushing forward despite it all. Music saved my life, and my family saved me because they were willing to share this monumental piece of love with my siblings and me. Now that I am older, I am a master of making playlists for every mood I go through, for every sorrow I feel, and for every joy this world gives me. I remember those days like yesterday when I never understood the lyrics of the songs that I bopped my head to, I only trusted in the faith and passion my family had for it, and I only hope I can pass that down to the next generation of Akindolie’s.