West Palm Beach Native Goes From Singing At A Local George Floyd March To Touring With 'Hamilton'
The West Palm Beach native found herself unexpectedly leading hundreds of people at a George Floyd march before joining a national "Hamilton" tour.
Singer and performer Meecah was ready to hit the road as part of the touring company for a production of the musical “Hamilton,” but the pandemic halted the national tour. She decided to leave New York to spend time with family in South Florida. And then the protests in response to the murder of George Floyd happened across the country and in our region.
The West Palm Beach native found herself unexpectedly leading hundreds of people at the “Stronger Together” march in Riviera Beach. Her band sat inside of a wagon behind a pick-up truck and sang songs like “Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing” from North on Broadway to 30th Street and back.
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Meecah, who went to high school at Dreyfoos School of the Arts, never expected her voice to be part of a rallying cry for social justice. She doesn’t consider herself an activist. She said the series of events felt like a whirlwind.
“And I just felt very transformative. As a Black woman and the daughter of a Black man, the sister of Black man, I could not leave my house and not worry,” Meecah said. “So there was a need to get that out of me the best way that I could.”
The 25-year-old says she embraced the movement, but she’d rather place more emphasis on navigating Bahamian culture through music and art. Her father is Bahamian and her mother is African-American.
Meecah says her musical family shaped her approach to music and acting. She calls herself a “South Baha fusion.”
“I just remember being in church. I have a very large church, but my father kind of broke off and created a missionary of that church. So it was very small and intimate,” Meecah said. “So it was really just the five of us in my family that will go. And so it was always my job to lead devotional service, always my job to sing us out.”
Meecah says her father had a brief history with the Commodores during their time at Tuskegee University and that her parents made an album together.
“And my grandmother is an incredible singer,” Meecah said. “My aunt taught me almost everything I know, vocally.”
The teaching staff at Dreyfoos also played a major roll in shaping Meecah's talent. Garry Q Lewis is a dance teacher and choreographer for the dance department. Their strong teacher-student bond began in the theatre department, where Meecah developed her acting abilities after playing the character Ruth Younger in "A Raisin in the Sun."
Lewis said Meecah, at that time, was primarily known as a great singer, not an actor. He saw something in her and went with his gut.
“And she was incredible. She actually shocked everyone with her acting chops," Lewis said. "And that moment when she went on and she performed this role, everyone was like blown away at the talent that just oozed out of her."
"They [talent] need that moment to shine and break through out of your comfort zone, which was singing for her, and really develop her acting."
Lewis said Meecah is also known for being punctual. "She would come halfway through my last class and just be there," says Lewis, "meaning she was like almost an hour early."
Her growing social media following has noticed that sense of urgency and passion.
Meecah is releasing her debut album, “Eclipse,” at a live outdoor concert at the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach Sept. 15. The concert features traditional Bahamian Junkanoo dancers and a drive-in premier screening of her short, suspense thriller film "Retribution."
The film, shot during the early stages of the pandemic with her best friends, is co-written and directed by Carlos Campana. It stars Meecah alongside actors Toree Alexandre, Gabriel Salgado, and Dondre Tuck.
Meecah took a day off from the Philip National Tour of Hamilton to elevate Bahamian culture through these projects, but she’s still on tour.
And she’s still reflecting on the whirlwind from last year because getting selected for her "Hamilton" role was not easy.
“I've auditioned ... something like 27 times, over the course of — and that's a real number, I don't think that that's an exaggeration — from my sophomore year of college to summer of my senior year, I was auditioning,” Meecah said.
She’s a principal standby, performing as the Schuyler sisters — Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy — who all had relationships with Alexander Hamilton. And when she finally booked it, the pandemic set things back.
“We were shut down for a year and a half and that did a real number on everybody. Both positive and negative,” Meecah said. “Some people have come back with a new spirit.”
That gratitude comes with a newfound perspective about the parallels she’s made between the George Floyd march and "Hamilton " — a musical that infused hip-hop while also presenting known social commentary on the life and death of Alexander Hamilton, and the dark, complicated history of politics and race in the United States.
“We [cast members] had a conversation about these lyrics, like Hamilton says, ‘I imagine death so much it feels like a memory,’ Meecah said.
“How many black men feel that way, right? How many black men have to say, ‘I cannot get in trouble because if I get in trouble, that may be the end. I don't get a slap on the wrist, you know what I mean? We have reworked these lyrics so much that they manifest completely differently than they did before the pandemic.”