I hope you don’t mind my break from the norm post, but I wanted to write about someone who is so dear to me. The lovely young lady pictured is my wonderful, talented and super sweet niece, Nadiyah Amanee. She was given this name at birth, but in time she grew into the true meaning of her most holiest name -Nadiyah. She’s self confident, practical, highly ambitious and diplomatic. She was given Amanee – because it means wishes (hopes) – my mother wished for a little girl – after having 3 boys and that wish came true. As a little girl, Nadiyah was a shy, timid, soft spoken, mild mannered pip-squeak. Always polite and had such a caring spirit. She truly is a mama/grandma girl. I remember how lovable and hug-able she was, and even when she would get mad, you couldn’t help but smile at her. Through the years, it has been a blessing watching her grow, mature and blossom into such a fine young lady. I’m using the word lady not because she’s a female, but lady as in innocent, sweet and polite. She truly is an apple in my eye. I feel honored to be her aunt and share in the joy of loving her. Watching Nadiyah blossom from her cocoon into this beautiful butterfly brings such tears of joy to my eyes while missing the days when she was a “little girl in the pink coat rockin’ her Afro puffs”. Last week, I had the pleasure of going “home”, meaning New Jersey. I’m writing about this particular trip, because, it was extra special as we were celebrating her 18th birthday.
It’s so hard to believe 18 years has passed and she’s headed to college. As a youngster, she asked her uncle to buy her a toy guitar. Anthony, is the uncle who believes in getting kids the toys they ask for. That day when she came home with the guitar, my mother asked him “what’d you get that for – she’s not going to play it”. Little did we know, not only did she play the guitar, but she advanced herself and became a fine jazz trumpet player and getting accepted into the prestigious program Jazz House Kids, which is one of the most successful and respected jazz education programs in the country.” Her tenacious spirit, mixed with determination to succeed earned her the Jazz House Kids 2015 Musician of Distinction Award. This award is given to young musicians who demonstrate leadership, musicianship, creativity and dedication to excellence. Nadiyah participated in the Jazz House Summer Workshop, Chica Power! Residency program, and the Jazz House Dynasty Band and is now a player of the Jazz House Kids Big Band.
In addition to that she’s also a band member for The Science Park Legion of Boom Marching Band. Hearing about the many gigs she’s played at, such as, Birdland, Montclair Jazz Festival, and several venues around New Jersey and New York along with meeting Wynton Marsalis and Sheila E., she has truly made a name for herself. Up until this trip I’ve not had the opportunity to see her play, other than watching videos posted on Facebook. The city of Newark was having a Peace and Arts Parade downtown and her school was performing.
Here she is with her high school band all ready to march.
(I wanted to run up and hug her 🙂 )
While waiting for the parade to begin, I decided to photograph some of the animated parade floats made by the students. They were absolutely fantastic.
It’s such a shame the schools have to fight to keep the Arts programs alive. Every time budgets are cut, they always seem to feel the Arts are not that important.. smh.. It is within the Arts that children are able to open their minds, be creative and express themselves, but that’s another discussion.. moving along… the headdresses they made were equally beautiful
After the parade, I had the opportunity to tour her school (our alma mater) Science Park High School. This was a newly built school and it absolutely amazing. The students are really fortunate to have such a fine learning institute. It sure is a big difference from the school building we went to..lol.. I was amazed at the art work (again – all done by students) and the pride they showcased in displaying it.
When we attended Science High School, it was considered to be one of Newark’s Prestigious schools, but over the years it has excelled scholastically and is now one of the top schools in the nation.
Again, I have say, I’m so proud of my niece. Going home and helping her celebrate her 18th birthday was such a joy. The party was suppose to be outside, however, the good ole’ unpredictable Jersey weather decided to rain. However, that didn’t dampen the day. Luckily, we have a party decorating diva for a friend, and she came to create the most festive atmosphere.
Here’s the birthday girl with her cousins
Having fun with friends
Weeks ago she had been listening to Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” on you tube and love the song “Ngiculela-I am Singing” She hinted to her mom that she would love to have her own album. Between me and my aunt – we tracked it down, so for me the highlight of the night was when she opened her gifts and was completely surprised and very happy to have her own Stevie Wonder “Songs in the Key of Life” album – yes album as in vinyl and she got 2.
She also was very happy to have gotten John Coltrane “Love Supreme” and Tina Marie ( another favorite). Honestly speaking, what 18 year old wants vinyl records for their birthday – lol.. a special one…. (you see how special she is.. she understands and knows the value of having the nostalgic pieces)
I could go on about Nadiyah, but I’ll stop here. However, I hope you all will join me in wishing her a “Happy Birthday” and all the best in her next phase of college life. I pray God continues to bless her with great success and allow her many opportunities to pursue her dreams. In closing – Nadiyah, thank you for being the little princess in my life and know that Auntie Kim loves you very much.