Thank You, Akron
Around this time, four years ago, I was in 6th grade sitting at a wooden desk in World History class. While I should have been focused on learning about ancient civilizations, theocracy, and the different types of hieroglyphic messages, my mind would always drift to one thing——music. At the age of 12, I realized that this was my passion; this is what I loved to do. As my mind would drift, I envisioned myself doing so many great things in the music world. I would ask myself “I wonder what it feels like to perform your own show at the Akron Civic Theatre?”. Or I'd simply be awed about how much focus and poise it would take for a solo pianist to guest perform with an orchestra. From these frequent mind-drifts and fantasies, I developed a drive, determined mentality, and subsequently a list of goals I wanted to achieve for myself.
Since the age of 12, when I was able to complete my first CD to help raise money towards my trip to Germany & Prague touring with the Miller South School for Visual & Performing Arts' Show Choir Program, I had set out a list of goals that I wanted to achieve for myself. From the intimate venues of the Pub Bricco Jazz Room and Blu Jazz+ to the world-renown venues such as EJ Thomas and the Akron Civic Theatre, I was determined to play at every single entertainment venue that Akron had to offer no matter how long it took.
If you would’ve told me that this would only take four years for me to accomplish, I would’ve laughed at you. Then again, when I told people that I see my name in lights at the Akron Civic Theatre at 12, they laughed at me. People told me that I was “dreaming too high”. They suggested that I “find a plan B” because they doubted that I could achieve this goal. When I realized that in order to move forward towards these goals I had to cut the negative individuals out of my life, many of them said “you’ll be nothing without me”.
Boy, were they wrong.
Four years later, I have accomplished feats that have been unheard of for most teenagers my age.
Four years later, I channeled my inner Chuck Norris and "roundhouse kicked" so many doors that seemed impossible to open. Breaking barriers, making history, being determined, and having a focus so strong that no one can break. That’s what these past four year have been for me.
In these past four years, I’ve done work for Chris Brown’s production team, been awarded by President Obama & The White House (2014), featured on CBS, launched my own product, had over 50+ articles in major media outlets, performed with a world-class orchestra at EJ Thomas Hall, and last but not least, headlined my own show at the Akron Civic Theatre.
And what a show it was.
Being able to perform at the Akron Civic Theatre is so much more that just “playing music for me”. It's a testament to how far I’ve come, how hard I’ve worked, and how diligent I’ve been during this whole process of attempting to achieve this monumental feat.
There are so many people that come into play to thank for this successful event. To be able to virtually sell-out my own show at the Akron Civic Theatre is unbelievably difficult, but I have the best support group in the world. My four-man crew consisting of my mother (Carolyn), Ebony Williams, Jai Latimore, & Byron Dismon. You guys and gals are unbelievable!
Additionally, my bandmates, Cody Mansfield (bass), Marquis Brown (auxiliary keyboards), and Jeff “Chochi” Law (Drums), I’ve grown up playing with you guys. So glad I could share this special moment with you all.
One would ask, “Kofi, why are you working so hard? You have your whole life ahead of you to accomplish these goals. Why now?”
Well it’s a quite simple answer. I don’t think of it that way.
I’ve never looked at accomplishing these feats as solely a “me” thing, it’s a “we” thing. I realize that at I’m in a position to be an inspiration to many of my peers as well as to many adults. I’m on a pursuit to achieve every goal that I have for myself and if I’m inspiring one to start up their long-procrastinated violin lessons or create that long-awaited start-up business, then I’m doing my job. I live to inspire because Akron has inspired me. From this city, I learned that if you maximize the friendships, public school systems, and musical mentorships from people like Theron Brown, you can do anything you put your mind to. Like my older brother, Kwame, would say, “the only things that you cannot do are the things in which you choose not to do”.
While I realize that my journey in Akron may be coming to an end soon as I enter college and go higher in music, I will never forget the individuals that have helped me get to this point.
So thank YOU, Akron, for believing in this 16 year old kid. I’m #MadeInAkron, and no one can tell me differently.
I won’t let you down.