SHIAVON’S JAWN: Maybe there will be sunshine

Shiavon Chatman, Opinion Editor

I’ve written about my Nana a lot. How my memories about her rely on smells and fuzzy sights. I remember how her apartment smelled of Elizabeth Taylor perfume, a light fog of cigarette smoke and whatever was for dinner. I loved it.

I remember seeing her African print silk nightgowns, Malcolm X posters on the walls and her pearly white smile that would beam when I walked through the door.

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But what I never mentioned is the sounds. The soundtrack of my life after she died. The sounds that helped make each day a little livable. The voice that soothed me as a child and made me nostalgic and a bit sad as an adult.

That voice belonged to soul legend, “Ain’t No Sunshine” singer Bill Withers. Withers died Monday in Los Angeles from heart complications.

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Withers stopped making music in the ‘80s but his songs have been sampled and redone for decades. Blackstreet, Queen Pen and Dr. Dre sampled “Grandma’s Hands” on their classic ‘90s track “No Diggity.”

When my Nana died, I sought out to find a connection with music that I made with sounds and fuzzy sights of her. I’d heard it before but when I really heard Bill Withers’ voice, I felt at peace. I felt at home. I felt like I was with Nana.

His song “Lean on Me” made me realize I didn’t have to do it all by myself. I didn’t have to carry this heavy weight with me because I had a village.

A village of people — whether they were my friends and family or characters I’ve encountered in a book or a man who sings songs that speak to my soul, no matter how old they might be. I was being taken care of. Bill taught me that.

His music made me sing, dance, cry and sometimes, even feel nostalgic for a time before I was born.

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His songs and voice now make me nostalgic for watching her cook, sitting on her stoop or just living in a world where she was alive.

Though they’re both not here anymore, we’ll always have a “Lovely Day.”