Shirley Tate (Fortune Society)
My 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.