Stranger 43/100 – Lillian

100 Strangers - LillianI saw our next stranger walking by as I was interviewing stranger #41 Tim. I regretted not being able to approach her for a portrait. Luckily, I ran into her a little later…

Meet Lillian.

What brings you uptown? “I’m a librarian uptown actually. {laughs} But, I also love to walk around because I love the scenery. That’s the best thing about Charlotte. I get inspiration here because I’m a singer…”

Tell me more… “So, I have an album coming out next year in February called 1687, but I actually recorded my first video uptown because I love being up here so much. I just look around at the places where we recorded before and I just look at how Charlotte is changing. My Nana actually worked at this building right here. She worked for Wells Fargo back when it was First Union and Wachovia. She passed away in ‘06. I kind of feel close to her up here… I love trench coats, and she always had one.”

I feel like locations have a memory of some sort… “Right! Literally I was passing by… it was a certain scene in my video. It was 5th and Tryon, that corner, and I was looking there and just thinking about my friend who played my love interest, he’s in LA, and just to go to that spot like I feel him even though he’s not there.”

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Always go for it. Go extremely hard. Go hard for your goals and your dreams and like never give up. And, love yourself at the moment because you always miss that timeframe. You might think that you’re nothing or you’re not beautiful, but as the years pass you look back at those moments and you’re like, wait no, I was beautiful or I could have gone harder or I could have accomplished a goal. So, literally, like live in the now, be grateful and enjoy every moment.”

How would you describe your music? “You kind of feel it in your soul. It’s just me. I’m a vibrant person. So even with slow songs or fast songs, I like the music to be vivid. If you don’t feel the lyrics, you usually feel the beat or the rhythm. Yeah, life is like music… it has memories, it has feelings.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “My biggest challenge right now is to know that I can… or reaching success. And when I say success, whatever I feel like success is… happiness or just accomplishing goals. Because you just have so many stumbling blocks. You sometimes are afraid. You’re afraid of success, and you don’t know if you can get there. So the struggle is just knowing that I should just keep going and just to see whatever happens… and to be ok with whatever happens.”

It’s easy to give up or doubt yourself… “Right, right, right. It’s taken a long time and I’m 30… It’s been the doubt that has followed me for a very long time. Just getting rid of the doubt. Yep, the doubt… getting rid of the doubt is the biggest challenge right now.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Love yourself and love others no matter what.”

It was inspiring to meet you Lillian. Thank you for being part of my 100 Strangers Project.

Technical Notes: This photo was taken with natural light in an open plaza. I was initially concerned that there wasn’t enough separation between her trench coat and the background, but I soon came to like the overall high key look.

I’m very happy to call Lillian a friend. Since our initial stranger encounter, we’ve done two photo shoots together to create some promotional shots. Her debut album will be released in February. In the meantime, you can see her video for Queen (Wipe Me Down) which was shot here in Charlotte. Fun fact: At the 12 second mark you can see Stranger #9, Anthony, playing guitar.

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