Published via Commercial Appeal. December 22, 2017
I was able to define what growing up in a neighborhood like Orange Mound was like compared to growing up in places such as South Side Chicago, Stockholm, Tokyo and Cape Town, South Africa.
Accepting new perspectives is the hallmark of beneficial growth in a human. The ability to see another’s lifestyle or viewpoint as valid while still maintaining the core of one's own bedrock values, is a vital attribute to one’s character.
This leads me to what I personally look forward to at Christmas time each year: showing love beyond my own experiences. I actively try to show love to people of foreign nationalities, to the indigent and homeless, and to people of different faiths.
Do I only make this effort during the holiday season? No. This is a daily effort, but for some reason that escapes my explanation, I seem to focus on these desires better during the "giving season".
As our country presently finds itself embroiled in what feels like a daily political, moral, and social mudslide, I hold on tighter to the lessons I have learned in my 50 years -- from lessons I learned in Orange Mound to those I learned in Jakarta, Indonesia. Those simple lessons are to live authentically, love my Jesus and His mankind ferociously, and protect my sanity by eschewing hate. If I do not do these things, I forfeit my sanity and invite insanity to take its place.
Even though I live in Nashville presently, I keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on in my hometown. I am proud to be from Memphis, and I carry her lessons and 'isms with me to every spot on the globe to which I travel.
Not only am I a vocalist and recording artist, but as of 2015, I am also a licensed preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, and as I study the word of God, and grow deeper in my ministry, I feel blessed to be from a city that showed me so much love, and gave me the permission and motivation to leave her to see the world.
Maybe one day soon, I’ll return to live in my beloved Memphis again.
Kevin Whalum is a jazz and R&B vocalist and recording artist and a minister in Nashville.