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        My name is Kat Rodriguez, and I am a singer songwriter from New York, City, but I am also an accomplished saxophonist. Besides the release of my debut album "Mockery", one of my biggest accomplishments has been working with Houston's very own, Beyonce Knowles, for the last 8 years . I've been blessed to work with great people in the music industry and have gotten the opportunity to travel the globe.  "I believe in taking every experience in life and making it apart of your personal story". Each moment in time is important, but one moment specifically in Mumbai, India (formerly known as Bombay) touched me deeply.
While on tour with Beyonce, we are blessed to stay at some of the best 5 star hotels around the world. In Mumbai, it was no different. We arrived at night, and it was a sight to see. It looked like a palace. There were waterfalls that cascaded from the ceilings of the hotel and ran alongside large statues. The pyramid statues were placed as a guide to the grandiose staircase, guarded by elephant statues draped in gold, which led to the beautiful lobby. Obviously, I was more than eager to wake up the next morning to do some sightseeing. As I left the hotel in a taxi, about quarter mile down I saw a vast field full of what looked like box cartons. As I looked closer, I realized that this wasn't some random dumping ground; there were people- full families- living in these cardboard boxes. As much as it saddened me, it reminded me of how blessed I was in that very moment, but I wasn't always this fortunate.
         My family  emigrated from the island of Puerto Rico in the late 1970's. During that time, spanish women were moving in droves to the inner immigrant communities of New York to work as factory workers. They had dreams of creating a better life for themselves, and their families, so they worked long hard hours to make ends meet. My mother worked in a coat factory when she migrated to NYC, and my dad dreamed of being a musician! They met at a popular salsa club and within, a week they were married! They have been married ever since! My family lived in a small one bedroom apartment. A hanger line was hung from one corner of my living room to the other when laundry day came.  My mom was unemployed shortly after I was born, and I was raised in the system. To provide for us, she volunteered at my elementary public school and would keep the unopened cartons of milk that were going to be thrown away by the school at the end of the day. My dad was an excellent fisherman, so he would sell the bluefish he caught by the pound to make money for groceries. Standing on the Pantry lines where we would collect food churches were giving out, was a weekly thing. Applesauce in white labeled cans, sardines, tuna fish, peach in syrup and government cheese was some of my favorite foods from the Pantry. "I remember our apartment being hot in the summer because we didn't have an air conditioner". To cool the apartment off we put cold ice water in a bucket and put a fan behind it. In the winter, we often wore sweat suits inside because we never knew when the cheap landlord would turn off the heat to conserve money. There was nothing to do because he would leave the premises and retreat to his nice warm house.
        As a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, NY, my family didn't have much but we had enough. In the late 80's and early 90's, New York was a nesting ground for drugs and crime alike. It wasn't uncommon to see someone lose their life over something as silly as stealing a mango from the fruit stand. Looking out of my families one bedroom apartment in the hood of Brooklyn, I could look across the street and see a park called Lincoln Terrace Park. It wasn't uncommon to hear gunshots at night in the park. If  I didn't hear them, it felt as something was wrong. Not only was Lincoln Terrace a park, it doubled as a home to the homeless in the neighborhood. It wasn't uncommon to look across the street at night and see the park littered with people sleeping with the little worldly possessions they had. That field in Mumbai reminded me so much of Lincoln Terrace Park. "I was so far from home but it was there I was reminded to remember and appreciate my past".
Growing up wasn't easy, as you can see, but that was only the beginning of my story!


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