As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Itoro Udofia – Music and Spoken Word

Smooth Jam

Smooth Jam was created as part of a larger body of music and poetry that explores love, survival, and identity as a queer African woman.  It was the second song created as part of this larger work (2010). These songs and poetry were written during a time when I needed a personal-political conversation with myself as to where I was going. Most of these songs-poetry I wrote at different stages of my life.  It has taken four years to complete this body of work and now its in its polishing stages where it will be turned into a compilation of short songs and spoken word vignettes. The growth of this project has been deeply personal and transformative. If you are interested in listening to more of the music please check it out on my soundcloud, Love Initiative (2009)  The Feel (2013)

The Green-Eyed Monster

Stage Directions: Room is still. Stage is dimly lit. The 5 women slowly form a semi circle onstage. When the last woman enters the circle the ensemble begins a hushed sound jamboree filled with rhythms, percussive, breaths, chorus, sounds, melodies and improvisations. The ensemble feeds off one another and use their voices to add to the sound scape

Depending on who these women are they can bring particular aspects of who they are and where they are from to incorporate into the sound jam. The jamboree goes on for a couple minutes, as women create their world of sound. Women 1 and Women 2 step forward to begin piece

Woman 1: (singing) Green-eyed-you-gonna-get- green-eyed you gonna get-green eyed-and-shiny

Repeat 1x

Woman 2: (Woman 2 sways to Woman 1’s words and begins harmonizing)

(Woman 1 takes Woman 2 and molds her into a tableau. Woman 2 is frozen)

Woman 1: My mother never let me have anything. She told me if she did I would get all green-eyed, become a green-eyed beast. She’d come over and sometimes even pinch me whenever I got too “green-eyed.” Then she’d say— Woman 2: “Green eyed! Stop getting green-eyed.” Woman 1: Green-eyed. As Mama would define it: The act of taking more than one needed. Woman 2: (changes tableau) I see it everyday Woman 1: Mama told me this because where she was people were… Woman 1 and 2: scraping, scraping… Woman 1: Mama would say Woman 2: (changes tableau) Scraping by. And those people I work for. Well! Don’t let them lie to you, because they’re green eyes say it all. Woman 1 and 2: They’d just rather watch you scrape while sitting around waiting for flowers to bloom. Woman 1: Mama would say, say this to me when she’d chastise me about being to green-eyed. She’d say… Woman 2: Now don’t take more than your share!… Woman 1: shake her head (Woman 2 begins humming green-eyed and swaying) then go on singing after she came home for a long day. Woman 2: (freezes) And I’m one of the lucky ones!… Woman 1: She’d say… Woman 2: One of the lucky ones… Woman 1 and 2: at least I get to come home. Woman 2: Some folks I know have to stay up there cleaning after those shiny folks Woman 1: The shiny folks. Mama told me that shiny people never like to hear the truth. So she’d have to… Woman 1 and 2: (woman 2 changes tableau) Yes ma’am! Yes sir!… Woman 1: she’d mince her feelings and go about to her work, saying… Woman 1 and 2: Yes ma’am! Yes sir!… Woman 1: But she’d get them back. She said, “I get them back by singing! I get them back humming…” Woman 2: (singing) Green-eyed-you-gonna-get-green-eyed-you-gonna-get-green-eyed-and-shiny… Woman 1: They didn’t even know what that song meant! One day mama told me that one of the shiny folks asked her about the song saying… Woman 1 and 2: (laughs) that’s such a good tune! Woman 1: and she’d reply… Woman 2: (change tableau) Yes ma’am! Yes sir! It is!… Woman 1: and go on about her work Woman 2: Those shiny folks… Woman 1: She’d tell me… Woman 2: Living there, you’d think there was never such a thing as people going without. I tell ya, it’s because it’s all up there being hoarded for only the Holy Father knows what! I tell you, that’s why the lord has me there… Woman 1 and 2: He wants me to give testimony to the riches being hidden in the big house! Woman 2: So don’t you take any more than your share! You don’t want to be all shine and no sense Woman 1: Anytime I’d get green eyed, anytime I’d want things. Anytime I’d say, “Mama can I have this new dress I saw…” she’d say Woman 2: You already have one Woman 1: No I don’t Woman 2: Yes. You do. That one dress I got you sitting and collecting dust in your closet? The one I bought you for your name’s day? That one. All you got to do is wash it out, iron the ruffles, it’ll be clean, it’ll be crisp, it’ll smell good and that’ll makes the dress as good as new. So yes, you can have your new dress. It’s sitting in your closet Woman 1: But Mama, that’s not that kind of new I’m talking about Woman 2: “What other new is there? What? You got to buy it all the time for it to mean anything.” (reaches over to pinch her daughter) Woman 1: Ouch! Woman 2: (sing song like) Green-eyed! Woman 1: (rolls eyes) Yes, yes she would always say Woman 1 and 2: Don’t be green-eyed, don’t be shiny, and take your share Woman 3: My mama would say, “Make your own damn dress, here’s the needle and thread. Start stitching.” Woman 4: Shit, I think my mama would say you, “you want to eat food or you want to eat a dress?” Woman 5: I wouldn’t even ask my mama! ‘Cause a dress wouldn’t even be a question in my house.

(Women laugh)

Women together: (singing) Green-eyed, don’t you be green-eyed, you’re getting green-eyed and shiny, greeneyed, don’t you be green-eyed, you’re getting green-eyed and shiny Woman 2: (reaches over and pinches Woman 1) Woman 1: Ouch!…Mama would tell me, Mama would make sure I knew… Woman 2: (cradles Woman 1’s face in the palms of her hand) Shiny doesn’t take enough time and it doesn’t want you to know it’s lazy. It’s jealous of everything it isn’t and hates its stunted growth, and it can’t hide its… Woman 1 and 2: Green eyes Woman 2: When you leave, don’t be shiny, don’t be green eyed and– Woman 1 and 2: always take your share Woman 1: (stares at woman 2 a she freezes in tableau) Beware the green-eyed beast. This became my motto when figuring out want and need. Wrestling with the world. Seeing what people said they wanted and knowing what we really needed. I remember Mama’s pinch. She told me not to be green eyed…

Itoro Udofia headshot

Itoro Udofia is a first generation Nigerian artist and educator. She is committed to cultivating educational spaces where children of color, specifically Black children, can thrive. She holds an M.A in Education for social justice. Currently, she still writes, makes music and works as a community educator.  Smooth Jam was written as part of a larger poem that turned into a song.

One Comment on “Itoro Udofia – Music and Spoken Word”

  1. Miguel Gravelle

    September 21, 2013

    You are an inspiration!  Thank you for being yourself!

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