Remembering my friend Miles Davis on his birthday

L-R: Terrie Williams, Erin Davis (Miles’ son) and Miles Davis

By Terrie Williams

Today, May 26, Miles Davis, the iconic, one-of-a-kind jazz artist, would have celebrated his 90th birthday. Those who loved and appreciated his musical genius – and there are countless millions of fans around the world would, undoubtedly, share their own personal stories of Miles. There would be tales of how the power of his music would soothe, comfort and inspire his listeners. Fellow musicians would recount his indomitable spirit of creativity and daring – traits that would encourage them to dig deeper in order to realize the full measure of their God-given talent.

I have my own story about Miles. It is one that changed my life.

Back in the day, at the tender age 23, I thought I had it all figured out. I had graduated from Brandeis University, received a degree in social work from Columbia University and landed a job at New York Hospital.

One day, the hospital staff was buzzing with excitement – word got out that Miles had been admitted. He wasn’t on my floor, but I just made it my business to pay him a visit to let him know I’d be checking on him from time to time in case he needed anything. We had a very pleasant exchange one day, and as I was about to leave he said to me in that raspy voice of his: “You don’t belong here-there’s something else you’re supposed to be doing.”

His words awakened something in me that I wasn’t aware of at the time. And they were words that gave me pause to reflect on the career choice I had made.Before Miles left the hospital, he told me to keep in touch.

A while later, and after some soul searching – remembering what Miles told me – I decided to step outside my comfort zone and I enrolled in a public relations course at the New School in Manhattan. Shortly after completing the course – and with the help of the contacts I had made while working for Essence Communications – I opened The Terrie Williams Agency, a public relations firm. Eddie Murphy, the number-one box office star in the world, became my first client! When I shared the exciting news with Miles, he said he also wanted to be on board with me and my new agency.

The rest, as they say, is history! I went on to represent such luminaries as Anita Baker, Janet Jackson, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Fortune 100 companies and many others.

On his birthday, I’m celebrating Miles in a way I believe he would truly appreciate. I will be listening to his music and admiring one of his original works of art that he gifted to me…see below. I will relish the memories of the incredible journey I was able to take because he saw something in me that I was unable to see. And I feel incredibly blessed to have had the privilege to work with my friend –an American icon!

I miss Miles AND I wish him a very Happy Birthday. He changed the world of music in a way that will never be forgotten. He also changed my life with a few simple words.

That, too, will never be forgotten.


Related Images: