I Skipped Class for El DeBarge

Entertainment Music Personal Story

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I have many goals and dreams I want to do with my journalism career. I have literally dreamed about interviewing El DeBarge. I skipped news writing class, checking this off my bucket list. Leaving school early to film DeBarge at the now closed J&R Music World was a once in a lifetime opportunity. #YOLO

Being a fan, I knew El’s new album was coming out. It had been 16 long years since he had made any new music. “Second Chance”, his new album and single had long time fans waiting excitedly, including myself.

I had a crush on El. I wanted to just stare into his beautiful face. I wondered was he THAT pretty in person. I wondered was his voice the same. Was he all hype with no falsetto LIVE? I needed to know if the person I’d loved all these years was really real.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 was like another school-day for me. But inside my body, I was nervous,  and wondering could I pull this off! I thought about skipping school altogether. But I needed to check out the equipment for the story. Yes, I’m grown! However, cutting class was never my thing in primary school. I was always too scared of the consequences. But this time, I refused to lose my chance to cover El DeBarge on my own. I had access to a myriad of cameras and choose the one I was most comfortable with. I arrived about 40 minutes early and the line of fans was already long.

I saw the setup of the store and wondered how close I could get to him. With my camera in hand I’ve gotten up close with artist like Erykah Badu, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and R&B singer Tamia. Journalism has always provided me the opportunity to get up close and personal to celebs most fans dream about.

There was a stage front and center with a keyboard. I knew that was for Eldra. There were not many media outlets there so I had prime real estate to film. I set up right directly in front of DeBarge. Lighting was excellent so I focused on setting my stuff up and conducting a few fan interviews.

A fan I interviewed mentioned she was attending his concert that night at the Highline Ballroom. I hadn’t heard about it but knew that footage of the concert would make my story even richer. I called the venue quickly, sent out an email to El’s PR people and hoped for a positive response. With no money for a ticket I knew press credentials was the only way I could cover this. His PR people denied my request but Highline responded favorably.

I hadn’t even finished my story at J&R and I had part 2 lined up for the evening! I was hustling my craft in these NYC streets. I was making these journalism dreams come true one story at a time.

At the Highline that night, their crew set me up in the back of the venue in a small space. I was on a box raised high off the floor with enough space for my tripod and me. It was a tight fit for my plus size frame. It was a balancing act the entire night to film amazing footage of Mr. DeBarge.

Before the concert started, a funny thing happened as I was setting up my equipment. I saw a man dressed in all black in the lobby. I could only see his left cheek and the back of his head. I wondered… hoped…I was skeptical……….but then during El’s set he brought Doug E. Fresh( Go look at my sweetie on his website.) to the stage. I KNEW IT! I knew the cheek and head I’d seen earlier belonged to D.E.F!! LMAO! I am not kidding. He has an iconic profile and structure to his face.

The story never aired anywhere. It earned me a “C” in my college class despite being the only brave soul to do my story solo. I turned in a different version of the story than the one above. Till this day that professor gets no love from me. I filmed and edited this entire thing myself. It’s still part of my catalog of stories that I love telling to whoever will listen! (Thanks for reading!)

So technically I didn’t interview Eldra. But I was up close and personal with him. That totally counts as meeting him. I was in his face with my camera. I didn’t miss a thing! I could almost smell him I was so close. Next, I’m trying to interview Stevie Wonder because he is my sweetie. A girl can dream……

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14 Comments

  1. Regina August 19, 2017 9:21 am

    Love your story!😉

  2. Katherine G July 23, 2017 10:53 am

    This is a great story. I totally think you should have gotten a better grade. But hey you have great memories and a great story to share. That is the great thing. I would’ve skipped class for my favorite artist too.

  3. francesca m July 22, 2017 11:03 pm

    I thought this was really nicely put together! How could they give you a “C”? Well at least you had a cool experience!

  4. Ra'Nesha July 20, 2017 11:02 pm

    I love El Debarge I would have skipped class. Awesome opportunity for a long time fan and Journalist.

  5. Victoria July 20, 2017 9:06 pm

    I love this story. Sometimes skipping class can be a good thing.

  6. Marsha July 19, 2017 11:02 pm

    I used to have a crush on El Debarge too so I don’t blame you for doing what you did girl! And to see Doug E Fresh on the same day?! That’s awesome. I don’t care what your teacher thought, you did good!

  7. Kristin July 19, 2017 3:32 pm

    Girl you was hustling!! I love it! I’d definitely skip school for New Edition or Brandy! I actually got up and personal with her a few months ago! You couldn’t tell me anything!! LOL

  8. Jonna July 19, 2017 8:50 am

    It’s all about priorities! You never know when you’d get that opportunity to be that up close again.

  9. Kiwi July 19, 2017 8:05 am

    Yeah i would skip school for my favorite artist too. I was 16 and my best friend and I begged her mom to pull us out of school early to go to a B2K concert and it was WORTH IT!

  10. Ty July 19, 2017 2:58 am

    That professor must not had been a El Debarge fan! LOL! I’m sure it was still a lot of fun and to be in the presence of DEF! That alone would have made my night.

  11. Briana July 18, 2017 7:39 pm

    Girl, that professor wouldn’t get any love from me either, I don’t blame you.
    By the way I definitely would have skipped class to get an interview too!

  12. Jay Colby July 18, 2017 8:34 am

    This is such an great story and dream for all journalist. I’m glad you got to get up close and personal with entertainers they’ve been fans of for years.

  13. Trebo12 June 26, 2017 9:17 am

    What a wonderful back story. I, too, was ‘El Loco’ for his comeback in 2010 – saw him 4x in 4 months that year, and I remember seeing your video and watching it many, many times. Because that’s what us El-heads did/do. I had no idea that you weren’t associated with a big news conglomerate, that’s how professional your story is. All I can say is, Thank you! P.S. I know you peeped El on the BET Awards last night doing a tribute George Michael. 😉 🔥👏🏽👏🏽🔥🔥 It was!

    • oliviadsanders June 27, 2017 1:22 pm

      Thanks Trebo12 for your wonderful comment! I did see El on the #BETAWARDS and was freaking out at home. My boyfriend was laughing at me while I was in pure bliss! I loved his hair at the show! And that suit was made for a performer! I’ve always done my thing in journalism freelance. http://www.williamsstory.net is another one of my media sites. #OGirlMedia is my latest project thats going pretty well. If you like El, check out my story on #Donnie. http://www.ogirlmedia.com/black-music-month-the-beautiful-soul-of-donnie

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