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Verses & Flows Thea Monyee

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The LEXUS Listening Lounge is ready for its closeup with the television debut THIS WEEK of "Verses & Flow", Thursday (11pm EST/ 8pm PST) on TV One. Hosted by actor/philanthropist HILL HARPER, Verses & Flow features performances by today's hottest acts in the realm of Spoken Word and R&B.

TV One launches the series in style, with a double feature: R&B powerhouse LEDISI sets the tone for the series, captivating the audience with her unique flow, as AARON SAMUELS and M'RELD GREEN spin verses that will both entertain and inform.

Episode Two follows, with vocal maestro KEM blessing the stage alongside the dynamic wordplay of THEA MONYEE and rapper-turned-poet DAVID BANNER.

Recently, LuxuryAwaits.com caught up with Thea as she prepared for this week's premiere, and the singer/poet gets candid, reflecting on everything from the gift of body image to intuitive book titles. Check her words below.

LA: You've been a part of the spoken word movement for a while. If you had to select just one of your poems that most represents you, which one would it be, and why?

TM: Ironically, I am working on something new that may replace the piece, that I have clung to as my most representative piece. For the past near decade, "Butterflies," which is featured on the Verses & Flow website, has been the piece I feel embodies the most about how I view life. I have a strong empathetic side so I often see people or situations from multiple angles. That is what the poem is about: one woman's strength is another woman's weakness; one person's angel is another person's panhandler. Life--and our ability to understand, enjoy, and explore it--comes down to the perspectives we choose to embrace/reject.

Your poem "Non-Perishable," which you perform on the show, speaks to image and the notion of beauty. What were you thinking when you wrote it?

I have struggled with embracing physical beauty my entire life. I grew up like so many African-American women believing that without "pretty non-brown eyes" or "good hair," I was nothing special to look at. I have two daughters now, and they inspire me to write poems that confront this internal struggle to feel beautiful. A struggle that is negatively reinforced by so much societal subtext, it can be difficult to maintain your sense or "swag" past your own doorstep. I wanted to write something to express that the journey from low self-esteem to self-love ends with a "beauty" no one can take away, because no one gives it to you. It is a gift you give yourself.

Verses & Flow is something new for television, combining the spoken word with live music performances. You've graced many stages throughout your career. What made this experience unique for you?

Verses & Flow appears to be very content driven, and similar to TV One, focused on providing positive messages through art. I have performed with live music on a number of occasions. In fact, I was a member of an alternative hip-hop band at one time. Music is the universal language! Marrying poetry and music on live television is a formula for unlimited creativity and inspiration. That is what made this experience unique. Combining the two mediums on one stage opens the audience up to different forms of expression, as well as a new experience.

As you've performed on different campuses and engaged with many students, what is one thing you'd like them to take away from your speeches/poems?

[I want them to] question. Explore. Be open-minded. I want them to understand that life is a journey of constant change, so stop trying to control it. Be in it! Wherever you are, be there! If that changes tomorrow, then be somewhere else! Whoever you are, be you! If you change tomorrow, then be that version of yourself! And allow others that same freedom. The freedom to reinvent, recreate, rediscover, rebuild, and ultimately remember your purpose and see it through to fruition.

If someone were to write a book about your life, what would the title be? And why?

This is a difficult question to answer. It is much easier to name the chapters than the entire book! But if I had to choose a title today I would title my book Intuition, which is also the name of my first solo CD. When I look over my life so far, I can see every twist and turn I took to get here. The most twisted routes are those where I failed to listen to my inner self. My smoothest paths are those where I trusted my instincts. It took 31 years for me to learn that my intuition will never fail me.

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Visit luxuryawaits.com/versesandflow for more interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and web-exclusive videos from the talented poets of "Verses & Flow" in the coming weeks.

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