In today’s Dirty South Club spotlight I chop it up with a lady who is the image of determination, strength and miracles. After suffering two brain aneurysms and a stroke, some would say Toni Hickman has every right to be down about life. Yet instead of letting it all get her down she is using her life and music to uplift!
Toni took the time to share how grateful she was in us helping to share her story, which she believes is her divine purpose, as well as the importance of not giving up before your opportunity comes & deciding to believe you can.
What’s your name & where are you from:
My name is Toni Hickman. I was born in New York, raised in New Orleans and moved back to Houston from Atlanta.
So how long did you stay in New York before you moved:
6 years old.
So tell me a little bit about what do you do & also what inspired you to do what you do:
Now – I do a whole bunch of stuff! (Laughs exchanged) What inspired me to do music first, it’s always been the church. The church that my mom was a Seven Day Adventist at one point and I was in the choir. That was where I discovered that I love stage and performing and all of that.
Then from there I did a talent show because I used to always write poetry; I would always write poetry. Then, a friend he wrote a rap for us and we got in a talent show in New Orleans and won! And that’s when I realized oh okay I can turn my poems into this and then – BAM! That’s how I started in music.
And what are some of the other things you do, I mean I know there are various facets to you from what I gathered; do you write poetry also:
I do write poetry! I write stuff in my head. If I’m in an emotion or something I will just make up a song or poetry or something in my head. It’s just something I’ve done since I was young.
So you’ve got the poetry, you’ve got the music and I’m sure there’s some other stuff there that you’re doing that I probably missed:
Well, like I said I do a whole bunch of stuff. I’ve always been a person that can kind of do many things, but music is my first love. Over everything that’s my first love.
What’s the best business or personal advice you’ve ever received:
The best business advice has been if I give up then I will never know my outcome. Because I might’ve given up before my opportunity comes to me. And in personal as well it’s kind of been the same message.
Like when I was sick, I went through a lot of insecurities and just really down about my situation. A nurse came in the hospital room and at this time; now did you read I used to be on Suave House and all of that stuff right? (Yes) Ok, so a nurse came in the hospital room and I was crying, I was having a pity party for myself and she said what are you crying for? I was having a pity party because I was thinking, I was just building everything and this is the second time (Second brain aneurysm) that I’ve gone through all of this stuff. I almost get there and at the tipping point and then – BAM!
I was mad at God at the time. I was mad at myself. I was disappointed you know, just a very dark place. She was like, well what you really need to ask is how come you’ve had two brain aneurysms and a stroke and you are still alive? Most people die from that!
I mean I got it, but I was still in my dark space and I’m like you are not about to interrupt my dark space. (Laughs exchanged) I was like, let me be and figure all of this out! But that was one of the most profound things and I didn’t take it in then, but I remember it and I will remember it for the rest of my life. Because I learned to be grateful for the small things and cherish the small things and not rush my life. Because every little step, every day, every minute is something to be honored.
It’s interesting that she chose to show you that side of it because most would be why me and why did it happen at this time, but then for her to flip that and say okay why did you survive; you know what I mean:
Right! After I came out of my pity party and just going through rehabilitation that was one of my decisions was to figure it out. Because people are like how did you survive that? And they would be like, oh you have a purpose! That was the message constantly coming at me.
Honestly, that situation changed my life; it really changed me!
It’s reading stories like yours that, especially for someone like me who believes in the most high, that kind of solidifies the presence of God so to speak and also the power and sovereignty:
Yes most definitely!
On a lighter note, what’s your favorite thing to do for fun:
I love shooting pool! In New Orleans, before all of this happened, I used to be a pool shark. I used to play for money. Now I’m relearning how to play because my right side was partially paralyzed. I stayed away from it like 4 years and I would play a little bit, but now I’m just kind of relearning.
Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for those who wish to follow in your footsteps musically or also for those who may have situations as you had with your health:
I think you just have to be determined no matter what. People will tell you can’t do something because of your disability, but you have people like this gentlemen Roland in my People Pleaser video who plays basketball in a wheelchair and he travels throughout the United States with a team. That was his dream!
Who’s to say you can’t still do your dream because of something? It’s only if you decide to take that message in and make it your belief because our belief creates our reality. So if you decide to believe that you can’t instead of you can then that’s what’s going to happen because you decided.
What do you love most about the Dirty South:
Growing up in New Orleans the food was amazing! I was raised as a vegetarian, but even in those dishes it was fixed New Orleans style. Yes, the food definitely number one.
Then, the South has hospitality that is not in New York. People get it confused like New York people are mean, they’re not mean they’re just about their business or wherever they’re going. They’re not just speaking to everybody on the street or whatever. But in the South you have this friendliness that’s welcoming. That’s just beautiful! You don’t get that everywhere you only get it in the South.
I appreciate you helping share my story. It’s important for me. That’s one of my divine I guess purpose is to share my story and inspire. So, if somebody is coming through to help me do that then I’m totally open and I’m grateful!
© 2016 Carlos Huey for Dirty South Club
It was my pleasure to share your story Toni and welcome to the club. Glad to have you represent! Check out Toni’s video of People Pleaser below and stay up to date on all that she has going on by vising her website ToniHickman.com.