Originally born in Chicago to a single mother, Donalja began to truly develop as a writer at the young age of seven. Donalja, also known as “The Voiceness”, is much more than a poet; she is an activist and advocate for women’s rights and empowerment. In this project, Donalja gives us poignant insight into how she recovered from gang rape, abandonment, domestic violence and the psychological attributed to it. “I See You” celebrates the indomitable will to overcome what seemed to be insurmountable odds and a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit as she conquered her circumstances and reclaimed herself. This victim turned advocate shows others how to not only be a survivor but and overcomer. She has shared stages in the poetry arena with Anthony Hamilton, Michael Baisden, BR Burns, Mike Phillips, Lyfe Jennings and HBO Def Poets Abyss, Helena D. Lewis, Mahogany Brown, Queen Sheba and many more. She has taken her experiences on stage and placed it into this CD compilation. From “Love/Hate” the song about domestic violence, to the soulful “House of Jazz” about escaping from life’s problems if only temporary, to “Queen” the celebration of womanhood and black pride to the melodic “Can I?” that talks of desired love almost desperate for acceptance; the CD “I See You” is much more than a poetry set to great music. It is an experience and may well be regarded as an anthem to not only women’s struggles but their amazing capacity to overcome them. Produced by Grammy award winning songwriter Rasheem Pugh, musicians extradonaire Chris Robinson and Valerie D. Johnson, this CD is a must have for its pounding Miami-flavored salsa to its down home New Orleans blues and riveting messages of social consciousness.
1. In your own words who is Donalja James?
In my own words, Donalja James is a motivator dedicated to seeing other women overcome pain from abuse. I have suffered incest, domestic violence, child abuse but I continue to push and push others. I am compassionate but also committed to the struggle of anyone who no longer can see the joy in life. I am a leader within my community. Due to my trials and tribulations, I have started my organization called The Stiletto Ladies that is all women who have overcome adversities such as myself. Our motto is I Stand Tall because no matter how much I have been knocked down, I continue to fight to get back up and stand beyond the adversity. I am a leader not designated by man, education or choice but by my past. I am no longer ashamed of what I have been through but now I am empowered through it all. In essence, Donalja James is EMPOWERED through and through.
2. What drives you to be successful?
What drives me to be successful is my children. I have four amazing children who are all talented, gifted and humanitarians. I want to leave a legacy for my children to be committed to not talk about change but to advocate for it. I see everyday in their commitments to community, family and music. Another thing that drives me to be successful is the women that I work with within The Stiletto Ladies. We have been able to impact the lives are young women and girls in our community. When I can talk to a young lady that has been molested finally smile again or release pain, it pushes me to keep going.
3. Finish this sentence “In five years I will be…”
In five years I will be the first Grammy award-winning Women’s Empowerment Artist. It is my goal to use my gift of spoken word infused with music to initiate worldwide healing for sexually abused women. I just want to spark a mass healing. I have been honored to work with Rasheem Pugh, who is one of the cowriters of the MisEducation of Lauryn Hill. It is my blessing that he saw a gift in me and has been pulling it out. Therefore I know that I will be receiving a Grammy soon because of the six degrees of separation.
4. What makes you smile?
Simple things make me smile. Waking up knowing that I can see a beautiful flower open or a deer run across a field is a reminder of God’s love. It also makes me smile to know a woman chooses to live another day whole, complete and ready to meet the world’s challenges.
5. Do you think chivalry is dead?
I don’t think chivalry is dead however I do feel it is a lost art form in some generations, just like being a lady is. Men are often dealing with women who are so head strong that we don’t allow the chivalry to take place. Instead we scream, I am independent and run men off and then say chivalry is dead. Well, as women we have to stop cutting it off and allow men to be men.
6. If you could do or be anything, what would it be and why?
If I could do or be anything, I would be me but I would have found my passion sooner so that I could have more time to develop into the artist that I am. I have always been gifted and opinionated but I never truly wanted to follow an artistic path because it wasn’t acceptable. I would have followed my heart. This way maybe I wouldn’t have lost a friend to suicide or maybe I could have helped another young lady find herself.
7. What qualities do you expect a Webster Man to have or demonstrate?
The qualities I expect of a Webster man would be one of style and distinction definitely however, I feel as though a Webster man will be one that also brings out the Queen in a woman. By being around him, she should blossom more as a woman. She should find her the entrepreneur inside by being in his presence. Her talents should flourish as she shares and bounces ideas off of him. So, in my view a Webster man should be a man who encourages, inspires and uplifts women in his circle.
8. What is one secret about women that you think all men should know?
What is one secret that ALL men should know? Um, don’t ask our secrets–no, seriously. I think men should know that we don’t expect you to be superman. So many men tackle the world’s problems in a single leap and bound and never let the women around them know that they are going through something. We know that you are human and sometimes even fragile. We just want to know that you trust us enough to share that you are having a moment. So, for me-put a way the Superman cape and just be quirky Clark Kent for a moment.
For more of Donalja James visit her at TheVoiceness.com.