Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Pirate Sistahs United Web Site
Home | Original Pirates | PSU Entertainment | Crone's Circle | Venice Heart Page | Our Vision Of Pirate Sistahs | Womanifesto | Womanifesto Page2 | The Members | Our Sistahs | The Goddess Page | Freeda Bandita And Honey Brown Articles | Honey Brown/Freeda Bandita Articles II | Scarlet Feva Articles | Scarlet Feva Page 2
Honey Brown/Freeda Bandita Articles II

BEST HONEY BROWN INTERVIEW EVER!

july 9, 1999 sister 2 sister magazine interviewed by niki turner
The "Different World" Moon Child who Grew up on a Reservation

     When most people think of Cree Summer I'm sure their minds
automatically take them to her crazy character, Freddie from "A
Different

World."  But Cree is so much deeper than that.  She's not only a
actress,
but
a singer and songwriter as well.  She released her debut album earlier
this
year titled Street Faerie which was produced by Lenny Kravitz.  The
album

includes a song called "Miss Moon" that was inspired by her long-time
friend,
Lisa Bonet.
     Once Cree started talking during our interview I knew that htis
would
be one of my most interesting interviews ever.  She's had life
experiences
that are probably very different from your own, but there are
underlying
stories that every woman can relate to.  Stories of first loves, best
friends, and a will to suceed.  Personally, I related to Cree on
different
levels.  First of all, she's interracial, like myself, with a white
father
and a black mother; and also like myself, she's determined to do what
makes
her happy in life.  
     Now I gotta admit that there were a few things that I couldn't
relate
to like growing up on an Indian reservation and her image of God
being a
brown goddess with long hair and elfin ears!  But that's Cree.  The
woman

spews love and her own spirituality and she definitely is true to
herself.  
Check out what she had to say and prepare to be intrigued.

niki:how are you?
cree: i'm lovely today.

niki: now where have you bee, cree?  what have you been doing for the
past
years?
cree: what have i been doing for the past few years?  i've been
living,
writing music, singing.

niki: you had a very interesting childhood.
cree: yes, this is so true.

niki: what was it like living on an indian reservation?
cree: it was quite magic.  but that's also tempered with the
romanticism
of
looking back on something.  i guess what it was like was like i
didn't go
to
school, i was surrounded by incredible ceremonies.   i used to dance
the
powwow, sing medicine songs, do sweat lodge, i grew up in a house
made of
mud
that my dad built with his own hands.

niki: how was that?
cree: it was a lovely place.  it was a beautiful home, i mean, there's
comedy
in it, too.  he used to have to chase the pigs away because they would
try to
eat the house.

niki:really? how big was the house?
cree: one room.  we slept in a loft.

niki: it was just you, your mom and your dad? or do you have brothers
and

sisters?
cree: i have a brother, but he came ten years later when we moved to
the
city.  it was lovely, what can i say? it was a conscious childhood i
had.

ther was no television.  i didn't see tv until i was eight.  i
remember
the
day that my dad brought home a record player.  that was an incredible
day.

niki: and that happened after you all moved all of the reservation?
cree: no, that happened on the res.

niki: now when you lived in the mud house, did you have electricity?
cree; no, this was a little town that was close the reservation.  it
was
this
really ramshackle [place].  we were only ther for about six months.  
my
bedroom was a closet, but i had a really, really beautiful blanket
hanging
from the top of it, so it looked like a room.  my parents just
recently
informed me that the closet wasn't relly deep enough for me, so you
would

juse see these legs hanging out of this closet when i was sleeping!  
but
to
me, that was my space, man.  that was my room.

niki: you also lived in a school bus?
cree: yeah, we traveled in a school bus for a long time.  it was like
a
mobile homw, if you will. [laughging]

niki: and where were you all traveling to?
cree: we were traveling to canada.  we were spending time in british
columbia.  we's pitch a teepee and sleep in there sometimes.  we
lived in
a
commune called music church for a while.  there were families living
there.

niki:did you ever enter a public school system?
cree: yes, i finally entered a public school system at the age of like
nine
or 10, i'm not exactly sure.

niki:and what was that like? that had to be culture shock for you?
cree: that was really no fun.  i didn't enjoy it.  that was tough for
me
because when we moved tothe cityk, we stayed with some friends of the
family
who were very, very kind to us and they let us live in their
basement.
but
it was a very affluent neighborhood.  so it was pretty obvious that we
didn't
lie in the big house that we were in.  we lived in the basement fo the
big
house, which was really one room connected to a suana.  so everyone
knew
that
i was the girl who lived in the basement of this house.  i guess that
was
the
first time that i realized that we didn't have any money.  and i guess
that i
just wsn't very hip when i got to school.  i had long braids and
moccasins
and a secondhand dress. i just wasn't cool enough and i really hated
school.  
i think that's why i was there for six years.

niki:what did you do after six years?
cree: when i dropped out of school? i was 16. i spent a lot of time
in my

room smoking pot and talking about all the things i was gonna do with
my
life.  i'm a testament that pot dreams do come true.

niki: now that's an interesgin one!
cree: two of my very best friends dropped out of high school with me
and
that
was lots of fun.  we used to go on adventures.  i was probably the
only
16-year-old in the city with a car.  my first car was a 1969 morgan
plus
four
speedster, which is a fabulous old english race car.  so my
girlfriends
and i
were probably the freaks we still are today.

niki: oh, so you're still really good friends with them?
cree: with one of them in particular.  one of the girls i wrote one of
the
songs, "soul sister," on the record about.  and we use to drive around
and go
on adventures.

niki: what kind of adventures?  what were you all doing?
cree: we were, and still are, voracious readers.  it wasn't stated
that
we
were a book club, but we would eat books and then talk about them all
the

time.  it was really important for us to know more than everyone
else.
we
were conscious of that.  we kept journsal that we would write in all
the
time.   we were constantly writing poetry and stories.  and we wer all
very
obsessed with frank zappa and it was our job to know every zappa
record
ever
made.  every cut.  every lyric.  we were big comic book collectors.  
we
were
freaks.

niki: now when you first go to school you said that you had that hard
adjustment period because you were different.  so what was connection
between
you and these two friends? did they have similar backgrounds?
cree; they actually didn't go to school with me.  i met tham at, of
all
things, the mall.  i acutally met one of the girls because everyone
felt
that
we looked alike.  when she would walk down the street people would
say,
"cree, cree..." one day i was walking through the mall an she said, "
are
you
cree?" and we became friends.  it's probably because we didn't go to
school
together so they didn't know yet how uncool i was.

niki: so what was your parent's reaction when you decided to drop out
of
school?
cree: they were so glad.  there was more time that i could hang out
with
them.  my father colects antique cars and rides motorcycles.  it was
more

time for us to talk about bikes.  we would go riding together.  my
mother

went to college for acouple of years.  i think my father has no
formal
education.  he let school in the sixth grade.

niki: are both of your parents native american?
cree: no, no one is.  my mother is african-american from louisiana,
to
beaumont, texas to north richmond, california.  and my father is... we
don't
knwo what he is.  he was adopted.  my last name is francks.  summer
is my

middle name.  i don't know .  francks sounds a little german to me.  
so i

don't know what he is.

niki: oh, so you're interracial like.
cree: yeah, that's what i am.  i'm not on of thsose people who runs
around
and says, "i'm part cherokee and my great-grandmother was a
blackfoot."
as
far as i know i'm just whit and black.

niki: so you all were welcomed on this reservation even though you
weren't
native american?
cree: yes, we were.  we were very welcomed as a matter of fact.  we
were
adopted into the tribe.  my parents were married on the res.

niki: what tribe was it?
cree: the plains cree indians.

niki: and that's where you got your name?
cree: i'm sure that's where it came from.

niki: does it have a meaning?
cree: it means indian.

niki: oh okay.  that makes sense.  now how di dyou get into voicing
cartoons?
cree: when we moved to the city, my father became a very big voice-
over
man
in toronto, canada.  he was working on a cartoon called "inspector
gadget."
he was playing dr. claw.  they were looking for a little girl to do
the
voice
of penny and i had gone with him to work one day and he said, " why
don't
you
give cre a shot?"  and they were like, "well, all right." and i got
the
job.

niki: how old were you?
cree: 12 years old.

niki: and how long id you do that?
cree: i guess about two years.

niki: did it pay well?
cree: it paid great.  as a matter of fact, that's probably why i had
the
confidence to drop out of high school

niki:"i have a job!"
cree: well, i was pretty self-sufficient by that age of sixteen.
definitely.
i was doing maybe 12 to 13 different animated shows a year all
through my

teenage years.

niki: what other ones did you do?
cree:all the care bear movies, all those little horrible cartoons like
"my
little pony," "strawberry shortcake"....

niki: i used to love "strawberry shortcake?"! who did you do from
"strawberry
shortcake"?
cree: i was the black chick, lemon meringue.

niki:did you ever have nay formal training in music?
cree: no, none at all.  i think, like a lot of artists, it's through
osmosis
and through passion.  it's through a high, deep respect and admiration
for
music that we're drawn there in the first place.  no, i think it's
more
intuitive.

niki: how did you go from voicing cartoons to "a different world"?
cree: well i came to l.a. when i was 19; (a) to get out of my mama's
house
and be grown (b) because i thought i was gonna continue to do
animation
and
live radio theater; which, when i got to the states, i discovered just
didn't
exist at all.  so strike one off the list of aspirations.

niki: you were doing all of those cartoons in canada?
cree: yes, so i moved here and hooked up with all the animation
houses in
the
staes and started working.  that's how i was paying my bills when i
first

moved to l.a.  then somebody saw me and said, "this girl lisa bonet
just
left
`the cosby show' and they're holding auditions and you should go
try." i
was
like, "yeah okay, whatever.  i've got nothing to lose."  and i got
it.  
score, present.  it was a pretyy amazing experience to be 19, fresh
into
town, no friends in the city and then all of a sudden i've got this
great

family.

niki: i loved freddie [your character on "a different world"].  she
was
one
of my favorite characters.
cree: yeah! all of a sudden i'm a teenager making all this money.  i
fell
in
love with my first boyfriend.  my very first boyfriend i met working
on
"a
different world."

niki: he was on the show?
cree: uh huh.  kadeem hardison.

niki: really?!! wow.
cree: my very first boyfriend.

niki: so how was it for you watching him and "whitley," jasmine guy?
cree: oh, that was comedy because she is such an incredible sister and
deep
friend.  she took such good care of me.  she played a really big part
in
my
awakening to my womanhood.  she showed me how to put on makeup and
took
me
shopping.  she told me what drink to order so i could still look
cool.
took
me around and introduced me t everybody.  so i wasn't looking at the
two
of
them that way at all.  i also felt kinda sorry for them because they
had
such
a brother/sister relationship...

niki:...and they had to be lovely-dovey.
cree: yeah, and that's kind of incestuous and creepy.  so i felt bad
for
them.  i was like, "uh, sorry."  that was a really great time in my
life.
i
don't think i'd ever do it again.  people ask me, "where have you
been?
what
happened to you? why don't you act anymore? we miss you."  the truth
of
the
matter is i just never felt very confident.  i never felt solid.  i
never

flet like i knew what i was doing.  i used to leave work
like, "whew!!
they
bought it."  and htat's just no a nice way to leave work.  you should
fel

like you deserve to be where you are.  and i never felt like i knew
what
i
was doing in acting.  but i have nothing but gratitude for that
opportunity.

niki: do you keep in contact with any of the cast members from the
show?
are
you and kadeem still friends?
cree: oh yes, he's my dear heart.  i love him.  he just had a
beautiful
baby.
the most beautiful little girl, sophia.  his mother is bethann
hardison,
a
really incredible force in my life.  she just turned out to be a
godmother of
sorts for me.

niki: how long did you date kadeem?
cree: four and a half years, maybe.  and he was really my first
boyfriend.  i
was like, "yeah! i 'm in a new city, i got a new job..."

niki: "...and i got a new boyfriend."
cree: all the greatest presents.  i really feel that way about this
life.

it's so charmed for me.  i must've made some good deposits in the
karma
bank
because i keep getting lots of incredible gifts.  even when i look
back
on
things that i though were scary, in retrospect they were miraculous
gifts,
too.  but yeah, and jasmine as well.  i keep in touch with her and
jada
[pinkett-smith].

niki: what's you relationship with lisa bonet?
cree: she is one of my best friends in the whole world.  i mean, i got
two
best friends really when i think about it.  a girl name little wing
and
lisa.
lisa is mky champion in so many ways.  she's an incredible mother.  
she's
an
incredible human being.  she's a conscious human being. and she's
constantly
going deeper.

niki: how old is lisa's daughter now?
cree: zoe is 10 and an amazing young woman.  she's the smartest little
sister
i know.  and lisa, i've never seen her and aphrodite in the same
place at
the
same time.  so her divinity blows me away.  she's just like a serious
magic
woman.  a serious priestess.

niki: i know that "miss moon" is about her, but what is that song
about?
i
like the song.
cree: lenny [kravitz] and i wrote that for her.  i guess it's like an
anthem.
there's so mnay things about being a woman we're made to believe are
impure
or not marvelous.  and woman, as you know, are in tune to the cycles
of
the
moon.  our connection to the moon is tangible in our menstrual
cycles.
and
for so long it's been something that's be regarded as the curse and
this
and
that and i believe it's a time when our emotions are so close to the
surfacte.  when we're so conncected to our emotions and our deeper
feelings.  
i believe it's a time when women are most powerful and most
magnificent.
and
that song was birthed from a time when, of course, i was cycling.  the
moon
was full.  lenny and i wer out on a beach in nassau and we had the fog
lights
on the jeep shining towards the water.  lisa was in front of the
light
dancing and she looked like a goddess.  we were like, "let's write
this
magic
mama a song."

niki: so they [lenny and lisa] are still really close/
cree: yes.  very good friends.  thank god.  they're like my family.

niki: you met lennky through lisa?
cree: yes

niki: and when did you all decide to work together?
cree: every time i write something i usually give it to her.  you know
like,
"check this out.  what do you think?" and she played some for lenny
and
then
i got a call from him one day and he was lik, "who's producing your
record?"
and i was like, "nobody." and he said, "no.  someone is.  i am."  and
i
was
like, "are you serious?"  and he said, " yeah, i really want to do
it."
and
that was it.  and i hung up the phone and jumped up and down.  i said
"thank
you goddess." i thanked the goddess for another present.

niki: what's it like working with lenny?
cree: really amazing.  first of all, he's just a very, very generous
man.

he's very persnickety about pitch and so i feel like i'm a better
singer
now.
i feel like lenny helped me make a record i always wanted to make.

niki: my favorite song is "mean sleep."  i love that song.
cree: do you? good. yeah!! that was fun to make for me because i got
to
be on
the other side of the control booth when [lenny] was singing.  i got
to
tell
him to do it again.  "one more time please.  you were a little
pitchy."

niki: how would you describe your music?
cree: i wouldn't dare.

niki: i had a feeling you were going to say something like that.  i
was
thinking, "she's not going to answer this question, but i'll just
throw
it
out there anyway."
cree: like, "i'll give it a shot."

niki: yeah, "just to see what she says." [laughing].  okay, that wen
as
planned.  so what audience do you think you will embrace it?
cree: all the freaks.

niki: i'll have to tell that to my co-worker, mary, becuase  she's
been
playing it over and over again.  i'm gonna go tell her she's a freak.
cree: that's right.  remember when jimi hendrix used to say, "let your
freak
side fly"? all the freaks and beautiful people will love it.  
everybody
that
believes in magic and doesn't believe in boundaries.

niki: are you going to tour?
cree: yes, actually i just got off the road with lenny.  he took me
out
for
three weeks with him in europe.

niki: what was that like?
cree: incredible . my opening night in the netherlands in fron to of
10,000
people was like, "hello." i just remember my knees buckling and my
eyelashes
sweating. and i kept forgetting to tell the audience who i was.  i
played
for
45 minutes and then i just walked off stage and lenny would get on
stage
and
say, "that was cree summer." you know, "you may want to tell them who
you

are."

niki: well, that was leaning experience.
cree: and the audiences were so warm and so kind.  europeans are such
open-minded people.

niki: do you think you'll ever move to europe?
cree: yes, i do.  i really do.  what a great question to ask me.  go
girl.  i
just say that because that was a conscious though i had on that
journey,
especially when i was in paris and berlin.  i don't know if it's a
place
where i want to live, but i never say never because no one surprises
me
more
than i do.

niki: so how old are you?
cree: 29 years old.

niki: now see, that's a question i didn't think you'd answer.
cree: why?

niki: because some people don't like to reveal their age.
cree: i dont' understand that.  i'm so proud of it.  it's a badge of
my
survival.  of the time i've been on this planet.  i'm going to be 30
this

year.

niki: do you embrace and particular religion?
cree: yes, love.  just straight up "love and gratitude." definitely.  
my
religion is consciousness.  definitely.

niki: one last question: is "curious white boy" autobiographical? i
can
imagine a lot of your music is.  
cree: well you know, i don't have the audacity to write about
someting i
haven't tasted.  you know? there's a lot things i dont' know and if
i'm
gonna
expose myself, i think i'd better know what i'm talking about.  my
father
is
the original "curious white boy." he was the first one i ever me.  i
remember
being in a bar somewhere in the bible belt and i remember this white
man
coming over to me telling me i was really pretty for a black girl.

niki: oh really?
cree: and that he couldn't believe that he was attracted to me.

niki: and what was your reaction?
cree: i went home and wrote "curious white boy." it's my tongue in
cheek
way
of saying i see you and i refuse to be your lab rat.  sometimes it
amazes

me-and i want to very careful here not to make any generalizations
because
beautiful people [are] in all colors.  i believe that love is more
powerful
than anything.  but sometime because the white race is the ones that
own
the
buildings, the one tha signs the paychecks, the one with the
governing
power-sometimes they have the luxury of not knowing about anyone
else.
they
dont' have to know about the asian people, they don't have to know
about
the
black people.  and so they can approach us with this kind of ignorant
curiosity.  and when you say, "that hur tme,"  then they can say, "oh
i
didn't know." we know all about them.  we have to.  but i don't
believe
it's
a matter of them or us.  and that's why i think "curious white boy,"
to
me,
is so fun.

niki: so would you date a white man?
cree: oh, hell yes.  of course i would.  i'd date white, red,
yellow.  
especially if i met one with pointy ears and he was elf.

niki: what's up with the pointy ears and elfin people?
cree: i believe in magic, that's all.  i truly believe in magic.  i
don't

care what color you are as long as you're willing to come from  your
higher
self as well.  i'm secure in being a black woman and i'm proud of
being a

black woman.  and if there' a white boy that can handle it, we'll see.

niki: you are funny.  it was wonderful talking to you cree.
cree: it was beautiful to talk to you too, sister.  i would love for
you
to
come to the show.  we rock hard live.

niki: i believe you.  and you have to sing "miss moon."
cree: yes. you gotta put that on when you're bleeding, you know?