With this edition of MEB Guest Blogs, comes a very personal story from Charise Sowells or known by her musical alias, Lake Lady. Sowells is accomplished in every sense of the word, not only with her music career, but an extensive background including film, television and event planning. With the unfortunate events surrounding the Kesha ruling and many accounts of mistreatment of women in the music industy recently, Sowells gives her own cautionary tale in her own words.
- Lucky Me: A Close Call With A Predatory Producer
In 2001, I graduated early from Orange County High School of the Arts feeling that even in a
school full of misfit weirdos I still didn’t belong. I’d moved from St. Paul, Minnesota to Orange
County, California just a couple years prior. It all felt like some strange drug induced nightmare
in a parallel universe and I wanted out. So I kept myself busy by studying, volunteering,
waitressing, creating, performing, and socializing.
In the year before NYU, I worked full time to save money and took music and dance courses at
Long Beach City College. It was there that I met a producer more than ten years my senior in
front of the bulletin board. We recorded a song I had written about 9/11 at his home studio.
Unfortunately, he lost the files after months of work so we never released it. But we kept in
touch for years, recording other material. I also wrote songs for other artists of his and he used
some of my writing in a musical he produced. He became like family, my mother quickly trusted
him and so did I.
Years later, he called me as I was sitting in Virgin Megastore, just down the block from my
freshman year dorm. We caught up, I was a junior or senior then at NYU. Life was good. New York
was still magical. Then, he chimed in and said I was lucky that he never tried anything. I asked
him to explain because I hoped I had misunderstood what he was saying. I hadn’t.
He went on to say I was lucky he never tried anything because he definitely could have. I was a
teenager alone in his house, recording, eating pizza, drinking his boxed wine, and he perceived
me to be “eager” to make it as an artist. Suddenly, everything this relationship had been to me
for years changed in that instant.
I hadn’t realized it, but apparently I truly was lucky this man hadn’t “tried anything” with me. My
stomach dropped and I ended the conversation abruptly. He attempted to connect time and time
again via various social media channels, email and phone but I wasn’t eager to maintain that
relationship, naturally. A collaborative relationship with anyone is already a vulnerable and
intimate space to hold, some might even call it sacred. Whatever it was, he killed it and I felt
anything but safe, trembling on the other end of the line after we hung up.
This story feels important to share because as artists, people prey on our dreams and as
women, people often prey in other ways as well. I’m not sure why this producer didn’t put his
thoughts into action with me but I’m grateful to have been “lucky” in that regard. Others are not
so lucky. I too have been not so lucky in other circumstances and when that happens, it
Watch her latest video for “Will He Ever Come” below.