StreetWise Vendor Holly Smith is a very special person. Actually, she takes pride in her individuality and says, “I feel like I’m totally different than everybody else. I want to be different, but basically I’m just being me.”
Holly’s stride to be unique has also been passed along to her 3-year-old daughter, Winter. “Winter has her own personality. She loves to dance… that goes in our family. Everybody loves to dance in our family,” Holly said.
But unlike many of her family members who dance for fun, Holly wants to enliven her daughter’s talent and give her a shot at really being an exceptional dancer, something that Holly never had the opportunity to pursue herself but wants for her child. “When I was 13, I was in ballet. So now, because Winter likes to dance, my brother says he’s going to pay for actual classes. She’s in preschool now, but I would like to see her become a ballet dancer [someday]. I never did get to become that. It’s too late for me, but not for her,” Holly said.
And although Holly’s dancing dreams never came to fruition, she’s not giving up on her passions and is fervently chasing after a career as a poet and rapper. “I love to rap and write poetry. I started [writing poetry] when I was 15… I just wrote about the stuff I was going through and I really enjoyed it. I also really, really enjoy writing. When I was in college, I took creative writing classes.”
Now she’s using her rhyming talents on stage in the rap songs that she writes herself and performs at various venues around the city. She uses the stage name “The Chosen One,” because she believes it expresses the fact that she is so unique, “chosen” to share her lyrics with the world. Most recently, she was seen on Channel 19 of Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV), a cable station that provides video training, equipment, facilities and channel time for Chicago residents. But as she explains, this is just the start. She’s going to continue writing music and networking with producers in hopes of getting her name out there and steadily rising to success.
Holly also uses her rapping to spread awareness about an issue that she works against: teen violence. “I wrote a song about what I’ve been seeing on the streets… the younger generation shooting each other, just wiping each other out. They haven’t been raised in the right direction,” Holly said.
And although Holly’s life might seem exciting, considering all the happiness that her poetry, rapping and daughter bring her, she has struggles just like everyone else. Holly currently does not have sole custody of Winter, a reality that she struggles to accept. Her mother takes care of Winter and, although Holly visits constantly, she wants the chance to raise her daughter on her own. She lost custody in 2010 while also trying to cope with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Now, Holly has gotten her illness under control and is enrolled in parenting classes to prove that she can not only raise Winter, but raise her well. “My mom said that she’s still going to help me and give me advice on how to raise my baby… but I’m proud that I’m being a good mom now,” Holly said.
Brittany Langmeyer, StreetWise Staff