Shirley Tate

Shirley Tate (Fortune Society)

Shirley TateMy name is Shirley Tate and I was born in The Bronx and raised in Long Island. Right now I live in Harlem on Riverside in “The Castle”, the Fortune Society Castle. I moved there in May. I went to Access GED and got my GED in 2009 and I now work at a bakery. Working there has taught me what hard work is so I can’t say it’s just a job. Some days it is, but it’s brought the best and the worst out of me, so I’ve learned a lot about myself working there.

I really like to sing and at one time I had a plan to do so. I auditioned for The X Factor, got the “no”, and then I realized I had to have a plan B. So even trying out this opportunity with The Tempest—I feel like if I can do this then maybe it could take me somewhere, just by doing this play. I really like to sing everything. I’m into neo-soul right now; Jill Scott is my idol and Lauryn Hill is my favorite.

I grew up singing. When I was first placed into the foster care system, that’s when I knew I had a voice. When I was living with my real parents, my dad used to play a lot of Michael Jackson. I knew then I wanted to dance like Michael, and I knew I wanted to sing when I was moved into another home. I just remember hearing Toni Braxton on the radio and hitting her note in that “Unbreak My Heart” song, and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a singer.

Sometimes I’ll get in my head that I don’t want to sing anymore, but my heart tells me that this is what I’m supposed to do. When I sing I feel it with my whole heart. I feel singing takes me to a stronger place and a more vulnerable place. When I was in the dark areas of my life I started writing music just to keep myself sane. But I’m actually kind of afraid of fulfilling my dreams, so I’m just letting the universe guide me. I guess my fear comes from a natural fear of exposure; fearing that people wouldn’t like my voice. There’s a lot of fear that’s been built up since when I was little, and people play a large part. So even when Tiffany tells me I have a certain light, it’s hard for me to take in. Doing this play now I’m just taking it a day at a time. I feel like if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.


About thepublictheater

Founded by Joseph Papp as the Shakespeare Workshop and now one of the nation’s preeminent cultural institutions, The Public is an American theater in which all of the country’s voices, rhythms, and cultures converge.
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