Cedar Comissions Guest Blog: Kashimana


The Cedar Cultural Center is presenting our eighth annual Cedar Commissions program on February 1st & 2nd.  We will be featuring new musical works created by six local artists, including singer-songwriter Kashimana.

Kashimana’s piece, "Phantom Cries" focuses on the true trials of conception, pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum depression, recovery, loss, early motherhood, the increasing maternal and infant mortality rates especially among women of color, and the glorious epiphany that everything is different.

Read more about "Phantom Cries" in her own words below, and get tickets here.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 21st, 2019: Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and I am reflecting on his words and his life, especially the words that implore us to not be silent.

A photo of Kashimana during her pregnancy

Almost a year ago, I was ten months pregnant with my daughter. My husband and I were happily preparing for her arrival but also stressing out about many things. One of the things that was constantly on my mind was what would happen in the labor and delivery room. I had just learned about the rising maternal and infant mortality rate in the United States through the ProPublica and NPR Investigative Series Lost Mothers. I also found that for Women of Color the rate doubles for infant mortality and triples for maternal mortality. I remember asking my doctor if they had a hemorrhage cart in the hospital and how we would watch for complications before and after.

My labor and delivery did not go the way we expected; I had to be induced and almost had to have an emergency caesarean because of the induction. I prepared for this process and used my voice while in labor and advocated the best I could with all the support I had from my family but it was still a very scary process, and my voice was usually the quietest except during a contraction. A nurse also had to advocate for me as well, and I am glad that in Minnesota our delivery nurses have some power. I thought to myself, if songs had been written about this, perhaps I would have been better prepared. This was the beginning of the idea for “Phantom Cries.”

Kashimana and her child

After delivery, I reflected on all the conversations I had with mothers before and wondered if I had asked the right questions. Since then, I have been asking a lot of questions and I have found that we do not talk enough about everything surrounding pregnancy. We do not talk across gender lines; we do not talk across generational lines. We do not talk enough about it with our legislators, with the healthcare industry, in our schools, and so on. I found that for some it was taboo to talk about it. For some, it doesn’t warrant conversation, “You have the baby and then make it work.” For others, they couldn’t wait to talk about all of it. We cried about it, shared our stories of triumph and victories along with our stories of despair, fear and loss.

I was recently there to assist my sister bring her second child into the world and marveled at the difference between the United States’ and the United Kingdom’s healthcare system. Imagine a system that moves fast enough to act on research that improves the outcomes for the mother and child, assigns home visits and doctors visits, and includes maternity leave as a right. I want that to happen in the United States.

“Phantom Cries” is vocally driven project to emphasize the voices that are lost in the journey of motherhood. I also wanted to write everything vocally because my voice is my main instrument and such a versatile one. There are some songs that are reflective, some that are fun and funny, and some that are serious. I am working with some amazing musicians that you should follow and listen to their amazing music. These include Aja Parham, Sarah O’Neil, Carolyne Naomi, and Kenneth Lamar Watson, Jr. I also would not have been able to do this without my amazing husband, and thank God for my mother in law who helped out with baby sitting. I thank my mother for being here, too, at the beginning of this journey and being a calming presence in my life. Thank you to the mothers before and after me, your cries are not in vain.

Composer and vocalist Kashimana's discusses her new piece "Phantom Cries," courtesy of The Cedar Cultural Center’s YouTube channel.

Please visit the following organizations and read the report to find out how you can help beyond reaching out and supporting the new mothers in your network.

See “Phantom Cries" by Kashimana live at The Cedar on February 2nd, 2019. Get tickets here