Queen’s Chronicle: Black Legacy Journey 1-I Feel a Song in My Heart Again by Queen Quet of the Gullah/Geechee

“Lord, I’ve really been real stressed
Down and out, losing ground
Although I am black and proud
Problems got me pessimistic
Brothers and sisters keep messin’ up
Why does it have to be so damn tough?
I don’t know where I can go
To let these ghosts out of my skull
My grandma’s passed, my brother’s gone
I never at once felt so alone
I know you’re supposed to be my steering wheel
Not just my spare tire
But Lord I ask you
To be my guiding force and truth
For some strange reason it had to be
He guided me to Tennessee

Take me to another place
Take me to another land
Make me forget all that hurts me
Let me understand your plan
Take me to another place
Take me to another land
Make me forget all that hurts me
Let me understand your plan

Lord it’s obvious we got a relationship
Talking to each other every night and day
Although you’re superior over me
We talk to each other in a friendship way
Then outta nowhere you tell me to break
Outta the country and into more country

Walk the roads my forefathers walked
Climbed the trees my forefathers hung from
Ask those trees for all their wisdom

Now I see the importance of history
Why my people be in the mess that they be
Many journeys to freedom made in vain
By brothers on the corner playing ghetto games
I ask you Lord why you enlightened me
Without the enlightenment of all my folks
He said ’cause I set myself on a quest for truth
And he was there to quench my thirst
But I am still thirsty

The Lord allowed me to drink some more
He said what I am searching for are
The answers to all which are in front of me
The ultimate truth started to get blurry
For some strange reason it had to be
It was all…”

a journey to Tennesee.

In 1992 when I first heard the song “Tennessee” by Arrested Development, I didn’t pay as much attention to Prince’s voice that they sampled as I did to the how the lyrics fed my soul. I often changed the words of the song to match my journey back home to be amongst my people, the Gullah/Geechee. Having the opportunity to meet Arrested Development in New Orleans when they stayed at the same hotel as my family and I made me love the song even more. It was an unforgettable evening seeing them in concert and then trying to catch a cab before getting soaking wet to only arrive at the hotel lobby along with them, Sway from 106 and Park and Floetry. We all rushed into the lobby shaking off rain droplets and smiling. As we talked in the lobby, everyone seemed to have truly been lifted high due to the joy of the music.

At any point in time that my soul gets weary, I find myself asking that question, “Lord why’d you enlighten me without the enlightenment of all my folks” and I get that same answer as in the song, “You set yourself on a quest for truth.” Yes, I am still thirsty for truth and that is why GOD must have put it in my heart to stop simply singing about it and to go on a road trip back to Tennessee.

I’ve spoken in Knoxville and driven through Nashville over the years. However, after a two year stint that halted my normal travels, my soul was getting weary and drained. I knew I had to get on the road again. So, I prayed and meditated on where to go and what to see and GOD guided me to Tennessee.

Given that August is when I chose to take this journey that I felt compelled to make, I dedicated every mile to Black August and I sought out the historic places and spaces that my ancestors built especially the towns where they found freedom spiritually and economically. I mapped out a route that would take me from the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s coast to the midlands of South Carolina through Georgia and into Tennessee. Little did I know that along the way, the lyrics of the song bearing the name of the latter state would come to life. I truly walked the roads my forefathers and foremothers walked and instead of climbing them, I stood beneath and next to the trees my forefathers and foremothers hung from. The first stop on the journey was in SC and there were not only stories of the Civil Rights Era, but also the stories of lynchings and historical markers to that effect. As I read them, I thought of how as much as things change, they remain the same.

What I prayed remained the same would be the support of Black businesses and institutions that I had researched and looked forward to locating. However, for the most part, there were markers and museums that stood as the remnants of what had been areas where people of African descent in America had built businesses for themselves. I saw how integration had provided symbolic victories in the form of cash donations made to non-profits in order for them to now “interpret” these stories.

I rest assured that the stories are not being fully represented because folks that haven’t lived the Black American experience can’t tell the full story with all its nuances. Others can’t feel the reverberation of the pain that came when folks destroyed the economic centers of Black communities and Black folks exchanged the opportunities to build multigenerational wealth by rebuilding and maintaining our own businesses and institutions for believing that assimilation via melting into America’s pot was going to be the way to advance ourselves and our future generations. As I sought a salve for this injury to my spirit, I found myself singing:

Take me to another place
Take me to another land
Make me forget all that hurts me
Let me understand your plan

Arriving in that other place, that other land which was Tennessee actually started to revive me as I found my way to the water and I stood there looking out. I saw my reflection looking back at me. I started seeing my people walking the streets and I saw my reflection in them too. I breathed deeply and walked on while thinking about how folks made it up this far from the other southern states. I looked forward to learning their/our story.

I debated when to visit the part of Nashville that seemed to have the most Black historical markers-Day 2 or Day 3. However, GOD woke me early on the first morning and I took that as a sign that I needed to get up and get out. I logically waited until I thought the morning rush had concluded and then we loaded up the car to head out for the day. Unlike many other folks, I wasn’t thrilled about going to Fisk, but I knew that I would be remissed if I didn’t. I prepared myself for how I would feel being where the songs that were created on the Sea Islands of the Gullah/Geechee Nation got altered so that they would appeal to the ears of white audiences and how that alteration never fit my soul. I prefer hearing The Spirituals in their original form and their native tongue-Gullah/Geechee. I prefer shoutin and polyrhythms to sheet music and shape notes. So, I am still vexed by the current exploitation taking place of our songs by professors even on the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s coast who are publishing books about The Spirituals. Their words and reshaping of our traditions to fit academia seem to void GOD’s influence and the true conviction and inspiration that hits the heart when one hears the “natives” sing.

I held back my annoyances and took the journey to the grounds of the historic institution to see what had been built with money raised from the use of The Spirituals. I was encouraged when just as we turned the block to get to the front gate, a group of students were practicing a drumline. The drum beats matched my steps as I walked up the block and onto the campus taking photos of the historic markers, statues and buildings. I even had a new student from Africa ask me for directions as she pulled her car up next to me. I guess she felt that I belonged there on the campus. I wondered if I sang The Spirituals in the way that I grew up singing them if the folks on the campus would welcome or reject me.

I got back into the car constantly looking out for markers so that we could make a quick stop and I could photograph them. Across from Fisk, I saw three markers in front of Meharry and then we saw a parking lot to pull into. I got out and walked rapidly back to the markers that we passed and then noticed more lined up ahead. As I walked and I read, I gave thanks for Black brilliance and Black excellence. I gave thanks for all the ancestors that had walked these grounds and kept these institutions alive. I prayed that those attending these places realized the value of each and every one of them.

As I turned to head to the markers in the distance, I pondered what institutions will be in place when I am gone. Will there be anyone pouring libation or erecting markers to remember the work of the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s leaders and the sacrifices that have been made in order to ensure that we tell our own story and not leave it to be interpreted by others after they displace us from our land?

I was in a walking meditation and prayer while still being aware of my surroundings when suddenly a car turned the corner and a brother essentially bailed out of it. I slowed my pace and heightened my awareness to see what was up since I got the sense that I was about to be approached. Sure enough, the brother was coming across the street in haste. I clipped my pace so that we kept distance between us as I confirmed the reason for the approach. He said, “Excuse me. Are you from North Carolina?” I said, “No. I’m not from North Carolina.” He put his hand on his head and shook it a bit. He said, “Do you do something with the Geechee?” I said, “You mean the “Gullah/Geechee Nation.” He said, “YES!!! I’ve been watching and listening to you for 3 or 4 years and I saw the beautiful attire from down the block and [he gestured to highlight my hair].” I said, “You saw me from down the block and rolled on me specifically?” He said, “Yes. I was saying, ‘No. That can’t be her.’ I just want you to know that if the folks down there are not getting the message, the message made it here. We appreciate you.” At that point, my heart and soul felt boosted. It was hot outside and I had been making sure that I had water in the car to stay hydrated between stops, but that moment, I knew that GOD sent this brother to quench my spiritual thirst.

Just as I thanked this brother for taking the time out to be what I know was a heaven sent messenger, I realized that I needed to capture this moment. I asked him if he would mind repeating what he said on video and he didn’t. I recorded what he said and wished him well as he sent out a final message of peace to the folks in the Carolinas while rushing back to his car. As he got in the car, I said, “Brother Aaron, [I positioned myself like I would at home base with a bat and I swung] like your namesake, Hank Aaron, you just knocked that one out of the park! You made my day brother!” He said, “You made mine!” We both said, “Peace!” as he pulled away from the curb. I just about danced my way back to the parking lot.

I had to turn back around and capture the image of the final marker that I was approaching when Brother Aaron approached me. I found myself doing what I have done most of my life-pondering the meaning of this. I could hear GOD telling me to find out the meaning of the name “Aaron.” I have since found out that it means “Enlightened, To Sing, High mountain, Exalted, Strong.” I told my travel companion that I knew that GOD had sent that brother and I saw him as “Angel Aaron” because he brought the answer that I sought to the question: “Is my living and work in vain?” The message that he delivered made it clear that the work isn’t in vain. I walked away from him feeling strong, exalted and enlightened as I stood up there on high mountains with a song in my heart.

I got back into the car and we continued the Black Legacy Journey to close out Black August and I felt that I would only rise higher the rest of the way. My angel Brother Aaron had truly made my trip and not just my day. I found myself singing more songs to GOD just to give thanks for the journey.

Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)

Queen Quet is the Chieftess and Head of State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation. She has visited all 50 states and multiple countries around the world fighting for the rights of her people and singing The Spirituals which are the official music of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and of her home state, South Carolina. To learn more about her, go to www.QueenQuet.com .


  1. Felt every bit of this in my spirit Queen! Your work inspired me to move home even quicker about 8 years ago. Seeing the remarkable work you do and the manner in which you execute is a sight to behold. At the time I was living in Atlanta. Your work and life journey is not for everyones understanding. Your name will be etched and echoed in herstory forevermore. Your documentation and archival system is UNMATCHED! Your work and name will not be in vain on our watch! ThANKH you for ALL that you do!

    • Hunnuh Welcum Sistah Donellia!

      Tenki Tenki fa hunnuh support!

      Queen Quet

  2. Shirley Megnin

    Please Continue your work. You are a daughter of the great “I Am”. You are a blessing to all you meet. I feel privileged to know you. Shirley Megnin

    • As GOD directs, so shall I go.

      Tenki Tenki fa hunnuh support and words.

      Queen Quet

  3. tucker

    Again I have received the good dirt and clear water of your genius and your wisdom. Again I shout praise, pray blessing, and speak wonder to the Spirit and spirits. For and about your whole life. For and to all in you that is eternal. For and to all in you that isn’t. And I recall the song of another Master Teacher:

    “No you won’t be name’n no buildings after me
    To go down dilapidated ooh
    No you won’t be name’n no buildings after me
    My name will be mistated, surely
    His world done changed
    So much yeah yeah
    This world done changed
    Since I been conscious
    This world done changed
    So much yeah yeah
    This world done changed
    Since I been conscious
    Oh, what in the world will we do?
    Will we ever make it, yeah
    Oh yeah know it ain’t right
    Oh, is it in Your plan?
    Say, I won’t be name’n no buildings after me
    To go down dilapidated
    No you won’t be name’n no bulidings after me
    My name won’t be mistated, surely
    Surely, surely…
    And oh…
    And oh…
    And oh…”

    — Erykah Badu, A.D. 2000

  4. Kwame Sha

    I’m Blessed just to be with you on your journeys Queen, Hetep, Aung Srim!!!

  5. Seleatha Rivers

    Wonderful!!! Beautiful❤️

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