Several members of the Project HOME community participated in “100% Philadelphia,” a theater piece that was part of last summer’s Philadelphia Fringe Arts Festival. One hundred different Philadelphians, representing the overall demographics of the city, shared their stories. One of the participants was Emanuel Havens, a Project HOME alumni and participant in our Arts Program. He is also a talented musician, who performs frequently at Project HOME events.
My mother bought me my first guitar when I was seven or eight. I got frustrated and destroyed it, but she was kind, she bought me another one. From that moment I started playing. I’d sit out and play with the guys next door, and it kept drawing bigger and bigger crowds. We were the only black guys playing rock music at that time. I play twelve instruments now, but on stage with a guitar in my hand, I’m not even there, it’s almost transcendent.
I was totally a drug addict, but when you’re young and playing guitar, it’s there, what else can you do. I wasn’t working at the time, I’d been incarcerated, and I became homeless. These days my priority is volunteering and engaging with people through the creative arts at a drug rehabilitation program and Project HOME.
I have no doubt there’s a higher power. I’m not going to defend it—it’s been there way longer than us and it’ll defend itself. Even though I belong to a church I don’t really support organized religion. Knowing a higher power is so important, but it’s hard to dictate the who, why, or how. A lot of people are so fanatical they miss the point.
I’d say I didn’t want to associate with the KKK, but honestly, if I could wear a sheet all the time, I’d join them. Maybe if I infiltrated I could get some of them to change their mind, or just stop for a second and think. A lot stems from misinformation.