McBride: The Maya Angelou I knew

Story highlights

  • Country singer Martina McBride remembers her friend and mentor Maya Angelou
  • Angelou -- a poet, author, actress and activist -- died last week at 86
  • Celebrities from Oprah to Michelle Obama gathered Saturday for services in North Carolina

As her friends, her family and the world celebrated Maya Angelou last weekend, I am struck by the imprint she left on me.

Maya Angelou was a shining example of how powerful and strong, good and giving, courageous and dignified, gracious and lovely a human being can be.

Her generosity of spirit is truly beautiful. Whether she was doing an interview with a stranger or talking to a friend, she was so giving of her spirit, always making whomever she was talking with feel important and lifted up.

Martina McBride

Being around her made you want to be the best you could be, because she saw the best we could be. And she was like a bright and shining mirror. Because she saw the best in us, we could see it in ourselves. And once we saw it we had a responsibility to live it.

We were talking once about writing songs and why I had been hesitant for so long to really jump in and write my own songs. She said, "Sometimes it's not the fear of failing at something that holds us back. It's the fear of succeeding. Because we know that once we take that step and do whatever we've been holding back and succeed at it, the world will expect more of us."

So true.

Maya's wisdom and generosity of spirit inspired us all. What if she had hid that light? She was brave enough and open enough and strong enough to share her brilliant mind and spirit with the whole world. And we are all better for it.

She made no secret she was a fan of music and particularly a fan of country music. I was beyond honored that she said she liked my music and me, as a woman.

"Everything you sing," she once said, "sounds like it comes from your heart." How awesome is that, and to come from Maya Angelou!

Maya also shared her wisdom through her words. One of my favorite phrases of hers is: "Can't do is like don't care. Neither of them have a home."

But perhaps my very favorite words were the last words she spoke to me. "Come visit me in my home. I will cook for you."

Thank you, Maya. You forever changed my world -- our world, the whole world -- for the better.

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