You may know Tarshá Hamilton as a singer/songwriter and the former wife of Anthony Hamilton. But, what you may not be aware of, is Tarshá’s commitment to fight the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. This month, we sat down with Tarshá to identify what inspires her to make a difference. So, take a moment to read a story of triumph, sultry and what makes Tarshá Hamilton a “warrior.”
A girl with Red Pumps
Tarshá and I started our conversation with an email introduction. Quite brief, discussed with her press team and the conversation was scheduled. As she spoke, I could hear her smile through the phone and at that moment, I knew Tarshá’s story would be inspiring to hear.
No stranger to the Red Pump family, Tarshá received the Red Pump Award in 2013 at our 5th annual Red Pump/Red Tie Affair in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our Charlotte lead and PR Manager, Jameka Whitten spoke so highly of her efforts in the fight against AIDS and contributions to the community.
“I Rock the Red Pump because I love shoes,” said Tarshá. “I wholeheartedly support what The Red Pump Project represents. Also, I am humbled that I received such a beautiful award. I honestly feel my best work has yet to see the light of day. There’s so much to do I can’t say that I’m proud of what I’ve done thus far. I guess I’ll be proud when we have an AIDS free generation. It is very possible because it’s a preventable disease. People just have to become more responsible and become aware of what’s going on inside of their bodies and in the bodies of others.”
The Cleveland, Ohio native was raised in the church and discovered her passion for singing at an early age. Tarshá knew inspiring others through music was a calling, and she calls “activism.”
“If it means writing a song to change the view of the world, if it means locking arms with other world changers in a march to bring awareness, if it means sharing my story with anyone who will listen to let others know they are not alone, then, yes I’m an activist.”
Tarshá’s connection to this epidemic is deeply personal. She lost her mother and father to AIDS-related complications. Several years later, her brother succumbed to the disease. At that time she was also starting to work on her sophomore album.
“Being a child whose parents were infected by HIV/AIDS touched me in a personal way. I knew my work in life would be dedicated to helping uplift and inspire lives affected. From personal experiences, having to keep our family life private and suffer in silence was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”
In 2009, Tarshá decided to break her silence and became an advocate in bringing light to those affected by HIV/AIDS in African-American and faith-based communities. She wanted to be a voice for every woman touched by HIV/AIDS.
“Your voice is one of the most powerful weapons you have when in war against stigma and other issues surrounding HIV. As women, we influence everyone in our circle. We are responsible for not only carrying life and birthing it, but we are responsible for preserving it for generations to come. If we are silent, ignorance remains and there’s death. If we speak with wisdom, understanding comes and life springs forth.”
Today, Tarshá is busy with building a blog to focus on HIV/AIDS, continuing advocacy for families affected by HIV/AIDS and, starting a new movement in her hometown Cleveland, Ohio.
“Honestly, stigma without a doubt, exist towards those living with HIV/AIDS. I fight the stigma every time I share my story and it clearly shows how this can happen to anyone who isn’t careful. HIV/AIDS doesn’t only run rampant in African villages; it also wipes out American families. Again, there is so much to be done to fight the stigma and bring light to the shadow that lurks over those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. My plan is to do more not just on a platform, but in my day to day life.”
Ministering her music as far as Japan and South Africa, Tarshá simply says “the more we talk about stigma, HIV or AIDS, the more it becomes the norm. We can’t have people fearful of the subject. They have to be fearful for the prolonged outcome if we don’t do something.”
Having women like Tarshá, Twana, Maria, Michelle, Andrea, Sheryl, Shaquille, Hydeia, Tiffany, Deborah and Kecia as fearless voices in the world; their advocacy opens doors for inspiration and connectivity. Regardless of age, race or HIV/AIDS status, every woman is ambitiously made and thrives through life like a “warrior.”