Re­becca 'But­ter­fly' Vaughns cel­e­brates 20 years as a poet

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ISHEKA N. HAR­RI­SON ihar­ri­son@sfltimes.com South Florida Times.

MI­AMI GAR­DENS, Fla. – On Satur­day, Aug. 26, loyal sup­port­ers braved the heavy wind and rain to make the jour­ney to Florida Me­mo­rial Uni­ver­sity and cel­e­brate one of Mi­ami’s most beloved na­tive artists, Re­becca “But­ter­fly” Vaughns. Dur­ing an an­niver­sary event en­ti­tled “She’s Still Soar­ing,” the pow­er­ful word­smith com­mem­o­rated 15 years as a full-time pro­fes­sional poet and 20 years in the spo­ken word arts over­all. “It has been a jour­ney. The idea of me sur­viv­ing off of just speak­ing some words … I had to thank South Florida be­cause it’s hard for artists to sur­vive and be suc­cess­ful at home,” Vaughns told the “Most artists be­come suc­cess­ful once they’ve gone and toured the world and made it into the mag­a­zines and stuff like that, but I’ve lit­er­ally been suc­cess­ful right here at home.”

The pro­gram be­gan with a slide show of some of Vaughns’ most beau­ti­ful mo­ments. Then dancers, singers and po­ets of var­i­ous ages took the stage to pay trib­ute to a woman who self­lessly shares her gift of gab to im­prove the lives of oth­ers. They in­cluded: dancer Kameren Whi-gham, singer/song­writer Zorenzo Smith, and po­ets Robert Carr, Ka­t­rina ‘Poet­tis’ Sapp and Red Wordz.

Each per­former shared how Vaughns had in­spired them to chase their dreams and be bet­ter peo­ple. At­ten­dees shared their sen­ti­ments.

Madeliene Had­docks, who Vaughns calls her “num­ber one sup­porter,” said the poet is one of a kind. “She’s so awe­some. She has a gift and she spreads it. She can come up with some­thing on the spur of the mo­ment,” Had­docks said. “She’s a nat­u­ral and she’s very gen­er­ous with her tal­ent be­cause some­times she per­forms with­out pay. She’s a beau­ti­ful soul.” Rachel Tourge­man, the com­mu­nity re­la­tions di­rec­tor for Florida Na­tional Uni­ver­sity, said she has known Vaughns for 26 years. She com­mended her for trans­form­ing peo­ple’s lives through her poetic per­for­mances. “But­ter­fly is in­trin­si­cally a breath of fresh air for our chil­dren, youth, adults and en­tire hu­man kind. Her pos­i­tive mes­sages tran­scend all gen­er­a­tions and all de­mo­graph­ics,” Tourge­man said. “No mat­ter what morally com­pelling is­sue But­ter­fly is ad­dress­ing, she reaches the souls and minds of all those who have the priv­i­lege of see­ing and hear­ing her.”

Dr. Alan Sil­ver said it was im­por­tant he be there to sup­port Vaughns be­cause she pours into the next gen­er­a­tion. “She has a spe­cial way to con­vey a mes­sage and they’re nor­mally grav­i­tated to­wards kids. I’ve watched her. Be­fore she goes up, she min­gles with the kids and gets a feel for them,” Sil­ver said.“Then she goes up and she gets all the kids to re­late to what she’s say­ing. When she starts talk­ing, she grabs the at­ten­tion of ev­ery­body. She’s def­i­nitely very spe­cial and def­i­nitely blessed by God.” “I’m not even a po­etry fan, but I’m a But­ter­fly fan,” said Felicia Martin, the host of the evening.

Once the trib­utes were com­plete, Vaughns her­self took the stage and, as usual, cap­ti­vated the au­di­ence with her words. She said she was grate­ful to have the op­por­tu­nity to do what she loves for the greater good. “When it comes to po­etry to each’s own, but I’m about us­ing my voice for up­lift­ment (sic), the bet­ter­ment of the world,” Vaughns said. “When you have peo­ple on oxy­gen tanks just try­ing to breath, I don’t see my­self wast­ing my oxy­gen.”

She also en­cour­aged peo­ple to have the con­fi­dence to pur­sue their pas­sions. “A lot of peo­ple walk around still preg­nant with their goals and their vi­sions and their dreams in­side. The beau­ti­ful thing about our Creator is that there are 7 bil­lion peo­ple in the world and none of them have the same fin­ger­print. Be­lieve in your­self be­cause when you be­lieve in you it shows,”Vaughns said.

Af­ter the pro­gram, there was a de­li­cious spread of food avail­able for guests, as well as mu­sic pro­vided by two tal­ented sax­o­phon­ists. Free to the public, the event was spon­sored by Wright & Young Fu­neral Home, who pro­moted their “Don’t Take My Life Let Me Live” pro­gram aimed and stop­ping sense­less mur­ders in lo­cal and na­tional com­mu­ni­ties. Vaughns said she was very happy with the way the event turned out.

“The vi­sion lit­er­ally ma­te­ri­al­ized in the man­ner that I hoped it would. It re­ally came to­gether beau­ti­fully. I don’t like tra­di­tion and I don’t like the idea of ex­pectancy … The peo­ple who came out tonight, I could never put it into words how much it means to me. It’s not how many show up, it’s who shows up in spite of. … I’m go­ing to sleep so sweet tonight,” Vaughns said.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NORVIK MY­ERS

Re­becca 'But­ter­fly' Vaughns, cen­ter, with friends and loved ones who came out to pay trib­ute to her dur­ing her poetic an­niver­sary.

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