We had the good fortune of connecting with Aviva Vuvuzela and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Aviva, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
Don’t give up Don’t give up the fight
Don’t give up
Cause you know you’re right.

In choosing this lifestyle, it already is a leap of faith.
There is no going back.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
1. What sets me apart from many mainstream musicians? I do what I want. I have visions and they lead me. I’m not edited or perfect and I’m not commercial. The songs often come as processors and partners to make life not only bearable, but full of hope and love. I also saw that I had to, in a sense, jump out of the matrix to embrace my life’s work as an indie artist. Life is expensive and so I began to see ways around it – like taking better care of me and making my health my wealth with Qi gong – learning about growing my own food and building my own home, and working with the barter system. I learned a different meaning of abundance. I look forward to sharing about some projects I’m really proud of below…

2. How I got here? Patience, Persistence and bliss. I’m in love with the deep connection to life’s muse and this is the gift that keeps on giving. I started writing my own songs at a young age and was gratefully pushed by my mom to take lessons and to enter contests and when I kept succeeding, it kind of validated that my musical expression was a deep part of “me”.

3. Was it easy? writing, YES performing, YES – everything leading up to performing including thinking about performing, long practices, bringing the performers and audience together, with promo, NO- it’s a LOT of work and is often isolating. I experienced intense anxiety as a child. I didn’t want to talk to others before my performance – I wanted to just be in my own world. I was scared. This one chance to play it the best I can. I had my moments of heaven, and relief, but it’s very challenging for me to jump right into socializing after a gig – I need down time- I’m somewhere else, I’m often shaking with emotion, and yet I have to be ON if I’m going to sell CDs and get other gigs LOL. Through the years the anxiety came and went with experience, but never fully went away. The pandemic brought it to a new level as my career is seen as germ spreading lol. As I play coffee shop gigs weekly I am often just the “background”. And it is SUPER nerve racking that I can easy feel like people would prefer I not be there – especially when some high school and college kids are wearing their ear-pods, talking on the phone, or move to the inside area, or the crowd is talking REAL loud. But even that is overcome with spiritual reminders that everyone gets to choose what is best for them and there are so many spirits listening who cannot be seen, like my Grandparents. And I fill myself with compassion about the individual needs and pressures of whomever is there that perhaps I can ease with a little musical love. And remembering that I am performing for me, that it is an honor to have the gig, and all is practice and manifestation as I visualize all my dreams coming true. And more often than not people tell me how they are moved, or come to just see me, or sing and dance along which is the BEST! And then there are always the occasional folks moved to tears which is when I feel strong purpose to how I am serving. Music really moves those emotions that can be stuck and in need of fresh air. And that’s the thing. I have to be open to MY emotions to get that energy flowing which is WHY insecurities are bound to come up. It’s like when you open up a closet to get that favorite dress there just might be some clothes on the floor you haven’t cleaned up yet – and they are in the same closet – your heart. So it’s easy to remember those moving moments, crowd participation, and loving feedback and that makes it all so rewarding and worth pushing through the more “blocked” experiences and crowd connections.

And there are many challenges not only to getting gigs, but completing professional recordings and videos. I have been stuck on my band’s second studio album for over 5 years since the studio closed and, well, there are a few more aspects to that I’d rather not discuss. But I recognize in my heart there is a reason and time is elusive. I mean one of the songs on this upcoming album “Key Of YOU” is called “The Universe is Out to Love You”. I am truly staying positive about the whole thing, but I get to scream and cry in my inner child sessions as I process the issues of abandonment, Rejection Dysphoria, and confusion that all of this has brought up. And what is AWESOME is that I grow no matter what. But of course wanting things to be done quicker is painful and it’s easy to beat up on ourselves and feel like a failure if we aren’t diligent with our daily disciplines.

It’s quite unrealistic to be able to shell out thousands of dollars recording an album and video when you also have to spend all of your time doing it, so that takes a lot of creativity as well. You need a job to make the money – but then you don’t have time to make the album. It’s a juggling act musicians know well, and we have been SO lucky to have generous sponsors for many projects we’ve done. I’m trying my best to focus on all of these accomplishments and they feel like little miracles to be honest… like our album “Painted Truth” which won us some awards. Jim Zumpano generously helped us put all the pieces together in his studio “Zac Recording Studios” after meeting him at a music school where he was teaching a class where we volunteered to allow them record us for their experience. With countless hours from other talented engineers who made this project successful like Ben Hernandez and Shaan Singh, I just feel so lucky that they gave me their time and hearts. WE also did a few INCREDIBLE music videos from that release including a collaboration with the famous Ukrainian Sand Artist Kseniya Simonova for the title song.

Another project I am really proud of is Leading the building of Ox the Earthen Playhouse at the Wylde Center in Decatur, GA. It was amazing to work with the Oakhurst Community and over 500 volunteers from several different nonprofits, and the late Sally Wylde as she visited me through the 2 year process of building with community cheering me on. As I chose to do not just singing, but MY MUSIC as my career, this project brought all the pieces together of my realization of the artist’s struggle. Building an example of a house made of mud – way cheaper and better for the environment than industrial supplies – could perhaps bring it into mainstream eyes and more importantly those building our future – the children. I asked countless children as we were building – do you think you can build your own house one day? Little girls held their arms up and smiled so big saying YES and many children said I AM GOING TO! I just saw growing up that I had to put my “dreams” aside for a world that valued me more as a doctor, lawyer, etc. and saw that part of living my dreams meant changing the world. This little 10+ yr old mud house persevered 2 HUGE trees falling on it. and THAT is truly an accomplishment for ALL of us. Security can be so illusive especially as threats of food and water crisis loom over us. When you do several projects like this, and I have, where a group of people come together to make the impossible possible, you just have a little less fear about the unknown – because you KNOW how much we are capable of together. AND it can be SO FUN!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh, gosh, I might need to get a restaurant or two to sponsor me for this question lol. Honestly though, many of my friends are nature lovers like me and there are so many incredible parks on the river like Sweetwater and Vickery Creek Trail. And W.D. Thompson and other smaller preserves have nice trails. Kinnesaw Mountain and Red Top Mountain are great hikes and The Botanical Gardens have amazing displays as well. And as far as food it would depend on what they are into. Georgia has amazing food of every cuisine with super friendly hosts and hostesses. There are also several farm to table restaurants in the Decatur area we could walk to after a visit with Ox the earthen playhouse lol. Little Five Points and Grant Park have artist pockets, but have gotten a little “commercialized” these past 5 years or so. I’ve always enjoyed the architecture and creative houses in Grant Park as well. I sing every Saturday 3-5pm at Golden Drops Cafe in Decatur and THEY have the BEST Coffee and JUICY food with secret recipes from the Dominican Republic made with SO much love!

photo credit to “Josh Carples – Photography”

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My 2 biggest Fans aka biggest sources of unconditional love and encouragement and generous talent sharing and ear bending… Michael D. Meyers aka artistmichaelm and wLo

Website: www.avivaandtheflyingpenguins.com

Instagram: aviva_flyingpenguins

Twitter: aatfp

Facebook: Aviva and the Flying Penguins

Youtube: www.youtube.com/avivasingsout

Other: www.avivamusic.com www.avivaandtheflyingpenguins.bandcamp.com “Painted Truth” https://open.spotify.com/album/0zuJeQ9e0jqupvlcD1UwVE Spotify playlist of our upbeat songs: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5BYBoSOc6BwLHwnGWk1dMo www.patreon.com/aatfp

Image Credits
Josh Carples – Photography, Most were selfies.

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