Singer, Activist, and educator Ayanna Gregory is no stranger to the industry. Her vivacious personality and passion for her craft was evident during a media teleconference held in preparation for her upcoming stage play, “Daughter of The Struggle.” Ayanna spoke freely about her spirituality, inspiration, and her love for her father with Latoya Heyward and other media outlets, and gave a vivid look inside of what life was like growing up as the daughter of a legend.
Lisa Gee (Publicist): Ayanna has joined the called everyone.
Ayanna: Hello guys. Thanks for having me!
Media: I’ve been following your journey for some time and notice that you do a lot of meditation. Tell me, what made you get into meditation?
Ayanna: That’s a great question. We didn’t go to church much, but we had church at home. Mediation was all I had and was something I owned. I became possess and ancestors seem to come through me when I meditate and it was a way for me to connect with my deeper self.
Media: What inspires you?
Ayanna: I always asked myself what I wanted to be remembered for. I always wanted to be remembered for a healing voice. I love to travel and had an opportunity to travel all over the world, and I remembered it all beginning to feel the same. No matter where I traveled and performed, it all felt the same. It wasn’t always like that; but when I started focusing on touching people, I no longer worried so much about remembering the lyrics of the song. I just focused on performing and giving off a higher vibration.
Latoya: Being the daughter of the late Comedian and Activist Dick Gregory, I know you had an opportunity to meet so many amazing people. Aside from your father, who gave the soundest advice that always stuck with you?
Ayanna: You know, I remember meeting Bob Marley at the age of six. At that time I didn’t know who Bob Marley really was; I just knew he was a good friend of dads. I remember him always being so pleasant. I learned so much from Stevie Wonder. He’s such a humble and authentic human. He always shows what it look like to be kind. In this industry, people come with a sense of entitlement. But Stevie was never like that.
I remember sitting on Mohammad Ali lap at four or five years old. I remember walking behind my dad with Marvin Gaye. I was blessed to feel the presence of a higher vibration, because my dad was friends with all of these amazing people.
But I would always remember the advice that Ben Vereen gave me. We were at an event that Oprah was hosting and dad was being honored. I had on a dress that was so tight that I couldn’t even breathe (chuckled). I would never forget Ben Vereen walking up to me at the event and whispering in my ear, “JUST BREATHE.” He placed his hands over my heart, and I remember becoming so calm. We then walked outside in the lobby and he told me I would never feel comfortable in this environment. He said, “I know who you are. Your gift is not for their world.” I remember he had on a hat that said, “Spiritual Enforcer.” He was definitely that. I felt like he understood me and we had never talked before. We had conversations a few times after that. He would always seem to call at the right times; times when I forgot to “JUST BREATHE.”
Latoya: That’s amazing. I really love your vibe and spirit. Tell me, what do you miss most about your father?
Ayanna: My father was thoroughly unique. He was loved, because he didn’t fear talking about certain issues. It would be times as a child that I knew so much proprietary information to the point my head wanted to explode. People would call my father and tell him things; and he would hold on to it. What I love most about my father was that everyone was the same to him. I remember Bill Cosby calling the house on a weekly basis or one week he may be with Mohammad Ali, and the next week we were in Mississippi talking to sharecroppers. That’s just who my fathers was. My dad didn’t care! He dealt with spirituality and high vibration and people respected him for that. Dad had three assassination attempts on his life, but that never stopped him from fighting and standing up for what he believed in. So, my sense of responsibility has heightened to keep his legacy alive.
Ayanna: My play, “Daughter of Struggle” will be at Morehouse College on February 12th, 2018. This is a free event and is open to the public. I encourage everyone to come out and see it. I don’t just want the audience to be filled with college students, but high school students as well. I will be out doing motivational speaking in the schools and I really look forward to connecting to the community on a deeper level.
For more information about the play, go to morehouse.edu.