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Stephanie Mills: Know your worth

Grammy and American Music Award-winning recording artist, Stephanie Mills was straight-up honest, and encouraged women to know their worth, be true to themselves and not allow a man to “discount” them, during the eighth annual Women’s Impact Luncheon, which was just one of a number of activities in conjunction with the 14th Jazz In The Gardens Music Festival.

“Do not be discount – and when I say discount, don’t let a man discount you,” was the legendary songstress’ message.

“You have to know your worth. Don’t be a side chick. What’s that?” she asked.

“We’ve all experienced and been through different things, but do not devalue yourself as a woman. We are beautiful. We are queens, and we are okay by ourselves.”

Mill wasn’t disparaging men. She said she loves men and that they serve a purpose, but that women have to know who they are and what they represent.

The Women’s Impact Luncheon is an action-packed experience designed to inspire women to live centered, active, fulfilled and balanced lives. It is one of the events hosted by the City of Miami Gardens that has become hugely popular.

Mills, who also performed at the music festival, was joined at the Impact Luncheon by fellow panelists Arian Simone, author and entrepreneur; Rashan Ali, co-host of Sister Circle on TV One; and Kristen Campbell, attorney and NFL agent.

“I loved doing that panel, and I was honest,” said Mills of her talk, which came on the heels of the recent International Women’s Day and before she took the Hard Rock Stadium stage, where the legend made it known from the first note out of her mouth that she’s still relevant and can move a crowd.

The petite Mills, whose voice is still powerful after all these years, said her driving force over the decades has been her belief and faith in God, as well as the fact that she’s never been a follower.

“I’ve never done what they really wanted me to do. I always kind of did what I wanted to do,” she said.

The R&B powerhouse is known for hits like “Never Knew Love Like This Before”, “What Cha Donna Do With My Lovin’”, “I Feel Good All Over”, “The Medicine Song”, “(You’re Puttin’) A Rush on Me’, “Comfort of a Man”, “Where Is the Love”, “Never Do You Wrong”, “Something in the Way (You Make Me Feel)” and “Home”, which are just a few in her catalogue of work.

Mills has had numerous gold albums with “What Cha Gonna Do with My Lovin’”, “Sweet Sensation”, “Stephanie”, “If I Were Your Woman” and “Home”.

Mills looks fabulous and celebrates her 62nd birthday today; she can pass for a woman decades younger. Going into her JITG performance, she was asked how she keeps herself fresh and relevant in this day and age, particularly as a woman in the music industry. Mills said taking care of herself is important to her.

She also said she loves to sing and perform, but more than that, she gives credit to her belief and faith in God, and not being the type to chase the next thing.

“I never really wanted to be famous,” said Mills, during the pre-music festival press conference. “I just like to sing and I love to perform and take care of my son. My son is everything to me.”

She questioned her relevance, though, saying more people tell her that she’s not relevant.

“I haven’t had a record out in I don’t know how long, but you know I love to sing and I love to perform, so if you think I’m relevant, thank you,” she said.

Before she took the stage, Mills said she wanted everyone to feel the love that she intended to bring to the stage and show how much she rehearsed to sound the way she did back in the day.

She delivered.

She was absolutely amazing and displayed one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music. There were no gimmicks with her performance; the soulful songstress let her vocals do the ‘talking’. It was all about the music for Mills, who took to the stage in a pair of black pants and a simple sleeveless top to perform. Nothing distracted from her delivery, not even makeup, which she knew she would simply sweat off, because she was going to put it down.

During her Saturday performance on day one of the two-day music festival, she delivered a soul-stirring performance.

If, by some chance, for some unknown reason, a music festival attendee didn’t know Mills’ voice or her music – well, they do now. And for her existing fans, her performance was a real treat.

Not only is Mills a vocal powerhouse, but over the course of her three decades-plus career, she distinguished herself as an actress as well. Mills is as comfortable on a Broadway stage as she is in the recording studio.

Her vocal abilities were evident early on. By age nine, she mesmerized crowds in her first Broadway musical, “Maggie Flynn”. She also had critically acclaimed appearances in shows like the four-time Tony Award-winning “The Wiz” at the age of 15 and “Your Arms Too Short To Box With God”.

For six consecutive weeks, at age 11, Mills won the famous Amateur Night at the renowned Apollo Theater.

Shavaughn Moss

Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.
Education: Saint Augustine’s College, BA in Mass Communication

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