Yvette McWhorter, a cannabis industry worker, can usually be found journaling or jotting down ideas for original books, movies, plays or songs.
Writing a book has always been on her bucket list. With her current manuscript “Steppin In The Key of Love” on the horizon, Yvette is that much closer to making her dream come true.
Her love for theater began with a third grade class trip to the Schubert Theater to see “Pinocchio.” Many years later, in response to the crack cocaine epidemic, she wrote her first play “Inner City Blues.”
Music has always been her first love. Ed “Get Down” Crosby and Pierre “Playerre’ Evans were the first producers to appreciate and record her sultry alto vocals.
When not engaged in thinking of ways to tell stories about things people haven’t already heard, you can find her relaxing at home with her dog Fancy, or doing karaoke.
GO BANG! Magazine: As a multi-talented artist who writes plays, books, films, and can sing, you are highly gifted. Which of your talents did you discover first and how did it reveal itself to you?
Yvette McWhorter: I would have to say it was singing. So, I must have been about ten years old when “Sweet Thing” by Chaka Khan was released. My friends and I were on the porch listening to the radio and as soon as I heard that guitar intro, I went into full Chaka Khan mode. I was doing my little Chaka dance and everything. When I started singing, I shocked myself. I knew I LIKED to sing but I didn’t realize I COULD sing until that moment.
GO BANG! Magazine: The theater bug bit you early in your youth, while you were in third grade. That sparked a fire in you that burned deep inside of you for years. You were inspired to write the play “Inner City Blues.” Please tell our readers about your play, its message, and if you still are planning to showcase it again.
Yvette McWhorter: I started writing “Inner City Blues” during the crack cocaine epidemic. That was a really painful time for black people and I wanted to express my pain the best way I knew how. As you can tell by the title, Marvin Gaye was my inspiration, specifically, the “What’s Going On” album. That album just felt like the soundtrack for everything that was happening during that time. Mothers were losing their sons to gang-violence. We were being vilified in the media nightly. The music industry was producing videos and song lyrics that reflected and sometimes glorified it all. The message that I wanted to convey was no matter how bad things were, black people had seen worse and we still managed to survive.
As far as future plans to showcase it, I never say never. It would definitely have to be revised. One of the changes I would make would be to change the dialogue to narration and let the Alvin Ailey Dancers tell the story through music and choreography, if that makes sense.
GO BANG! Magazine: Vocally, you have a distinctive tone. Over the years, you have hit the studio and laid your soprano voice on the tracks of two producers. Please tell us about those songs, the experience, and if “YUMMY” plans to hit the studio again anytime soon.
Yvette McWhorter: Well, first off, I couldn’t hit a soprano note if my life depended on it. LMAO. I sang alto in acapella choir in high school. Anyway, a very good friend of mine, Ed “Get down” Crosby, was the first person to see potential in me as an artist. Ed was one of the original members of the” Hot Mix 5” on Chicago radio station WGCI. He was very talented. I was flattered when he told me that he thought I was good enough to make it to the top. I believed it too. The problem was that the studio scared the hell out of me. We ended up recording two songs that could’ve been great, had I just let my creativity flow. We both knew neither of the songs were a true representation of my abilities.
A few years later I was introduced to Mr. Pierre “Playerre” Evans. If I remember correctly, Pierre you were looking for backup singers, right? The original singer for your song “Mind Groove” had been sick and couldn’t make it to rehearsal for a few weeks. The song “Mind Groove” was meant to be a duet, but you were doing both parts at rehearsal. Then one day you asked me to sing her part. I’d been listening to the song so much that it felt natural and the nervousness I always feel when I sing new material was barely there.
When you let me listen to the other young lady doing the song, it sounded great and she had a beautiful voice. But I thought the lyrics called for a more potent voice and a “stand your ground” kind of attitude. I was older and had been through some stuff. Soooo…..l brought ALL THAT to the song. You and I had great chemistry and your confidence encouraged me to find some of my own and I thank you for that.
I don’t know if I want to record again, but I’d love to sing with a cover band.
GO BANG! Magazine: As a screenwriter, you write scripts for television and film. Do you have any written scripts or scripts in development that you can speak of at this time?
Yvette McWhorter: I have ideas that I am trying to develop that can be adapted to stage or screen. However, I find the direction that the movie industry seems to be moving in very interesting. Coronavirus has forced block buster movies off the big screen and onto cable networks. Netflix and Amazon Prime have been really stepping up their game with original content. So, there are opportunities for new film makers with new ideas.
GO BANG! Magazine: Currently, you’re finishing up your first book entitled “Steppin’ In The Key Of Love.” Please describe to our readers the process of writing a book, what your book is about, and when it will become available for our readers to buy.
Yvette McWhorter: Whew! Where do I start? Well, for me the process was probably unconventional. My initial goal was to find an original backdrop and then weave a story around it. My mother is one of what I call the pioneers of “Steppin.” The stories and pictures she’s shared with me inspired me to write a book to pay homage to all steppers. I like a good love story. So, I decided to write a story about a spoiled, strong willed woman who’d grown bored with her loving but predictable spouse. She sets out to find the excitement she craves on the dance floor.
After a VERY rough draft I sent my work to an editor. I knew it wasn’t ready, but I wanted her to point me in the right direction by showing me what I had done wrong. She started by telling me that my idea was very original, but it needed a lot more work. During the time I was working on a second draft, a friend tagged me in a Facebook post with a link to a Sun-Times article and she said, “this reminded me of you when I saw it.” When I went to the link I was horrified. It was an article about a new show that was premiering, and it was about Steppin. I knew this wasn’t a case of “same idea, different people” before I even saw the show.
The producers that were being interviewed didn’t even bother to use their own words to answer the questions about the show. They used thinly veiled quotes directly from my work. I can’t prove it, but to quote Erykah Badu “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit.” In other words, I know my work when I see it. Once I saw the show, I laughed because basically they created a different set of circumstances for their lead characters by doing the opposite of everything I did. In my version my couple was married with no children and having marital issues. Their couple was married with children and started out happy. Get It? But, character personalities, occupations, physical descriptions, and Chicago geographical locations that were specific to my story were all included.
I was livid but, in a way, having my work stolen was a huge compliment. I knew it had potential no matter how much work it needed. Having it stolen and produced by a network just proved me right. I have no desire to finish the book after what has happened. The thing about being creative though is you have a million ideas where that one came from. I would however like to see “Steppin’ In the Key of Love” done RIGHT, as a limited series.
GO BANG! Magazine: Of your talents that we have spoken of, which is your favorite and why?
Yvette McWhorter: Music speaks to my spirit more than any other form of artistic language. Singing allows me to express my emotions, no matter what they are. It engages all of my senses because I am fully indulged. If I am singing about a man’s cologne, I smell it. If I am singing about a broken heart, I feel it.
On the other hand, writing allows me to create a world that I control. It takes me away from reality completely or lets me manipulate it in fun or sometimes insane ways. I lose track of time when I’m writing because I am totally immersed in that world at that time. So, both singing and writing are my favorite, at different times.
GO BANG! Magazine: What inspires or motivates you to create?
Yvette McWhorter: A lot of what I write is inspired by bits and pieces of real-life events or people, sprinkled with fantasy. Much of it is something I myself may have experienced or how I believe I would respond to something if it happened to me. Then other times I could be sitting there doing something totally unrelated to writing, and my little Gemini brain will say “hey, wouldn’t this be a good idea for a book or movie?” LOL. Welcome to my world.
GO BANG! Magazine: If you were given the opportunity for one of your dreams to come true, what would that dream be?
Yvette McWhorter: When I worked for the Department of Corrections, I wrote plays for the inmates to perform. There are so many talented people behind bars that I was never at a loss to find someone to fill the roles. And very well I might add. They were grateful to be a part of something positive, but I was granted the reward of seeing my work come to life. One day, I would like to see something I have written “green lighted” and produced with my name on the credits.
GO BANG! Magazine: What should our readers be on the lookout for from you in the near future?
Yvette McWhorter: Right now, I write when the mood strikes me. As I mentioned, I’m still trying to get a producer in Chicago interested in doing “Steppin In the Key of Love”. I still think it’s a great idea, even if I have to change the storyline. Chicago deserves a story about what WE created to be told from our perspective.
GO BANG! Magazine: In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off guard. How are you dealing with it?
Yvette McWhorter: Covid-19 has given meaning to the phrase “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond to it.” I have taken this time to think about how to move forward in our new world. I’m thinking about how to seize opportunities that will be available. I want to live the best of my life for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, that may mean letting go of people, places and things that haven’t served me well in the past. It means holding myself accountable for not being where I want to be. I quarantined alone so it’s a good thing I like my own company. So, all things considered, I am well.
GO BANG! Magazine: JOIN US IN WISHING YVETTE McWHORTER A HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (6/1)
Link to “MIND GROOVE” Song: https://www.reverbnation.com/playerre
Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram