We had the good fortune of connecting with conney williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi conney, what role has risk played in your life or career?
wow. this is actually question that seems quite ironic in some sense. what i mean by that is I’ve never thought of it as risk taking. for me, risk taking is tantamount to choosing between breathing and asphyxiation. risk taking is a “sine quo non”: for my life and i honestly don’t know how i could live from day to day without it.
in my opinion, risk taking is investing in yourself and who you are. it’s been so instrumental in every aspect of my life; and in this process i could never imagine not investing in me; my humanity and creativity. i would never have accomplished anything in my life without realizing that my life and creativity were both worth my highest investment.
honestly, i have felt compelled to take risks because i felt like those risks forced me to grow in ways that i wouldn’t have be able to otherwise. risk taking equals personal investment in my estimation.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
i have two collections of poetry: “leaves of spilled spirit from an untamed poet”; “blues red soul falsetto”; my latest collection of poetry will be published on World Stage Press in the summer of 2021. i proud of all the projects i’ve done over the years; not so much for any accolades i’ve received, but more so for the fact that i had to courage/resolve to actually bring that inspiration into reality.
i also have two cds of my poetry set to music, “unsettled water” & “river&moan”; the production of these cds was the culmination of many performances and the desire to pay homage to other poets who performed their poetry with music. all the music is original based upon my own concepts.
one of the projects i’m extremely proud of is a christian rap cd that i released in 1985. it was unheard of at the time and i was completely eviscerated by the church because they didn’t think it fit into the christian narrative. i was rejected by the church. that rejection caused me to want to elevate my voice and work even harder to create art that would touch other peoples lives. so i began to write and record social raps and that eventually lead me to leimert park where i found likeminded poets and artisits who want to not only creat high art, but also affect and elevate our community with our words/art.
when i arrived in leimert park, i found a community of artists creating unbelievable art while being activists elevating our community. it was the family i never had growing up who believed in me and what i wanted to accomplish. we all need someone who will believe in and support us; no matter how independent we are.
i’ve been fortunate in that sense.; even in the church i had a few who truly believed in me and encouraged me regularly. and i have lived my life that way by paying it forward; always wanting to encourage and support others in their journey because how difficult it can be to believe in yourself and your vision for your life.
what i have learned along the way, because of others who saw something worth investing in me. through that, i’ve learned to always be willing to invest in myself and who i am. i have learned that if anyone deserves my support and encouragement, it’s me. and part of my daily mantra or meditation, is to speak to my spirit and remind myself who i am and the unlimited things that i’m capable of.
i always want people/the world to know that i’m an authentic and honest artisist; striving daily to be his truest and best self in spite of any challenges that i might face;
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
any and everyone who visits me, is required to visit leimert park. that place is my home, my village, my community, my creative space, and my hope. before moving to los angeles, i never knew a place like leimert park where Black culture had such expression and humanity. that place changed my life and on any sunday, you can such a confluence of different Black artistic expression.
i would take them to Earle’s hotdogs on crenshaw; best hotdogs in los angeles; pinks is nothing by comparison.. i’ve been supporting these brothers since the late 80’s; which is crazy because i remember when they were selling hotdogs from a cart next to the marlton swapmeet back in the day. i would take them to the fisherman’s outlet in downtown los angeles on central avenue. i’ve been eating at this outdoor eatery since the early 80’s. the food is great.
los angeles has so many wonderful locations. one thing l love are the free summer concert series all around the city. so many amazing artists performing in wonderful locations with incredible environments and ambience. one of my favorite series is jazz and salsa at lacma on fridays and saturdays.
i love going down to the laguna beach area where there is such an eclectic mix of artists, locals, visitors and beautiful vistas. lots of galleries line the streets with nice restaurants. one of my favorite restaurants is actually a local steak house in pico rivera call “dal rae.” it looks like a 50s restaurant with the high back booths that provide lots of intimacy. they are known for their own caesar salad dressing which make fresh individually for every customer.
lastly, i love taking drives along the california coastline and taking PCH to malibu or santa barbara is one my favorite things to do; well beside skiing in mammoth.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
the world stage performance gallery leimert park
clarence church, jr.
Linkedin: conney williams
Youtube: conney williams
alexis rhone fancher