Walking towards the Thanksgiving Parade being held on Penn Street that has been a tradition for years. Meeting up with my family, I was excited about my interview I had scheduled for later that day, but for that moment, I was going to enjoy the parade. As the parade wrapped up, I received a message that the interview would have to be pushed back due to the parade and traffic. Waiting outside of DoubleTree Hotel with my in-laws, I was freezing and quickly ran to Dunkin Donuts to grab a coffee and a quick bite. Within 15 mins, Blessed Streatz and his Representative arrived in multiple vehicles with tons of boxes of Turkeys to give out to families in need.
Blessed aka Blessed Streatz was born in Trinidad and Tobago. He arrived at the United States as a young boy and got caught up in the streets of Reading, Pa. At the wrong place and time, he was shot in the face. Luckily, he survived and years later his luck drastically changed. He had an opportunity to be featured on an early Blackstreet Album, as well as the Selector remix Grindin’ (RIAA certified gold) which featured Sean Paul and Kardinall Offishall.
Initially, I reached out to Blessed for an opportunity to interview him when I first saw his post on Facebook through a mutual friend. He had announced that he was going to be giving away free turkeys for families in need. Even offered for everyone to get one for someone who wasn’t mobile, elderly or disabled and couldn’t get one themselves. Not knowing his history or background or why. I quickly learned that he was a man who had a big heart and wants to see everyone succeed. Obviously knowing what to do when it comes to an interview and having a short amount of time. I quickly wanted to know why Blessed came back to Reading, PA to give back. “I grew up here so to me Reading is my home. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to the community that raised me. I grew up in era where it wasn’t uncommon for people to pull up on the block and hand out turkeys and Christmas gifts to the kids in the community.”
Off-camera is when I got to know the real Blessed. He shared his life story along with how he felt so blessed to be shot in the face and still here to live life. You can feel a sense of gratitude and love seeping from Blessed. Not a typical celebrity who had a record reach Gold status. You didn’t get a sense that he was above anyone. Willing to talk to anyone, shake their hands or give them a huge. He shared that having kids is why he decided to leave the spotlight when it came to his music. “I wanted to focus on my family and my kids. If you are a parent then you can understand why that is so important.” Trying to get back into his music, Blessed has given me details on getting back into the studio to write again, his experience with working with Pharrell and other artists.
How his experience being in the streets of Reading, Pa and getting a taste of success has humbled him drastically to where he feels its important for him to give back. Repeatedly telling me that this is home, his family lives here surprisingly to find out that our families were well known to each other. It didn’t take long after finding similarities that Blessed felt more open to discussing his struggles growing up being poor and how necessary it was for him to see other people give back. “This taught me that when you have it, you give to those who don’t. There’s no need to be greedy, but people will try and take advantage of you or in my case, kill you.”
“I don’t let it stop me though. I just learned to be less flashy with jewelry and clothes. I don’t always tell people where my location is and if I do, it’s public and a safe place. I couldn’t do this in the heart of the south side without any trouble. I could if I wanted to, but I would make sure to have security depending on the location.” He said shifted from standing position to kneeling in the chair. “You gotta live a more of a low modest lifestyle. Instead, put your energy into helping other people. It will always come back and bless you.”
In the 30 mins time that I had with Blessed Streatz, it felt like talking to an old family member I haven’t seen in a long time. Even with the record label staff and a cameraman following him around. He was just an average guy from Reading, PA who feels it’s his duty to give back to the community that raises him to be the successful man he is today. “I took a risk that day that Pharrell told me to come to the studio. I was supposed to go to work and instead I went to the studio. It was the best decision I made.”
Leaving the interview, I felt motivated and inspired to continue to do interviews such as this that shows a positive side to Reading, PA. To see someone who came from poverty to being successful and happy even outside of the music spotlight. It should encourage others to do a good deed at any time of the year.