Candice Wicks-Davis is the founder and CEO of Edutainment for Equity. She holds a Masters in Education from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor’s in Sociology from UC Berkeley. She has 20 years of experience in the field of technical assistance. Candice is also an artist who travels extensively. She is the volunteer Operations Manager of award-winning performance ensemble Young, Gifted & Black of Oakland.

Black Girls Create: What do you create?

I create relationships. I create art in the form of music and I consider my body to be art as well, and so when I get dressed in the morning, I feel like I’m an artist and that my body is a canvas. I also create transformative experiences for others. I help people to see themselves and their work more clearly. Being a woman, I also create life. Being a human I create reality through my ability to decide how I feel and how I see something. I create my world through perspective.

BGC: Why do you create?

Not to be super existential or anything but I think that I create because I am creation and creator. It is what it means to be human to create. I create because my humanity demands it and it’s one of the ways that I contribute and one of the ways that I heal. 

BGC: Who is your audience?

I have a pretty broad audience. I would say for my solo art my audience is primarily black women and to a certain extent black men as well. For my work with my acapella combo Antique Naked Soul, my audience is a bit wider and it’s probably most similar to the NPR or KPFA audience. For my work as an entrepreneur, it is a blend of those two audiences. 

BGC: Who or what inspired you to do what you do? Who or what continues to inspire you?

I think my vision for what the world should be is what inspires me. I see the deep inequalities and the legacy of slavery and colonization and feel very passionate about shutting down those systems, righting those wrongs and restoring the humanity in our relationships. 

BGC: As an educator, how does your relationship with your students inform your music?

I am not in the classroom anymore, but I do professional development and consulting, which definitely has educational components. I use my music as an intelligence, just like I would use a kinesthetic activity to activate people who learn through movement or visuals for visual learners. Music is meant to activate our mirror neuron system to allow us to access emotions and to experience empathy. That’s how my music is related to my work as an educator, but more than that, it has been a way of processing life. Life is so beautiful and magical while the world is filled with terrible horrible things, slavery, exploitation, genocide and displacement, biological warfare, oppression, I could go on, but I won’t. I will just say that my music is a vehicle for unpacking the emotions that I feel when I see people being subjugated or abused systematically. 

BGC: You’re also a small business owner, how has turning your art into a business changed your relationship to your art?

At first, the business side was strangling my art. I am still coming out of that. Making music commercially is a different game. It requires me to sing about things and make music that I don’t care about, so I stopped really focusing on it because it was causing me so much anxiety. I’ve just started to have fun again because I have released the pressure of commercial viability and I am making music for me again. Things that speak to my heart and reflect my concerns. If people like it, great, if not, that’s ok too. Now I am deepening the connection between my art and my practice as an entrepreneur. I know that if I can figure out how to blend those two things, I can find the niche that I need to be fulfilled in my art again. 

BGC: How do you balance creating with the rest of your life? 

I am in a constant state of balancing, made possible by a lot of planning and preparation. I plan almost everything, I have schedules, routines, rituals, anything that frees up my mind space. I have seasons where my art is centered, typically Summer and Winter. That’s when my husband and I would typically tour and perform and do workshops abroad. Then there are times when the consulting is centered, usually the Fall and Spring. That has changed because I have a little one now and of course because of COVID. We are planning to resume the tours when travel opens back up and our baby is a little older. It is an integral part of the work. 

BGC: With so many responsibilities and projects, are you able to prioritize yourself? How do you practice self-care?

Right now, I am focused on my diet. I am working to eliminate sugar from my diet. I also exercise and lately, I have been making showers and baths a time to luxuriate. I like to get facials, get my nails done, and use oils on my skin, hair, and aromatherapy. I also journal when I feel compelled to. The moments are short and sweet, but I make time for them. Also, I feel like planning is a form of self-care for me. When I take the time to plan, I feel good, like I can work but still feel relaxed.

BGC: Why is it important, as a Black woman, to create?

Telling our stories is how we find community. We find out that we’re not alone, we find sisterhood. We validate and cheerlead. We heal and use art as therapy. To me, that’s the most important purpose. I also use art as a tool to build empathy. If we cannot learn to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes, then we lose our humanity. Humanity is all about empathy. 

BGC: Advice for new creators or ones just starting to get more serious?

Create even if only 5 people follow you. Don’t allow commercial criteria to stifle your creativity. Just be. Just create. Breakthroughs happen in one moment, but it takes years to prepare for the moment. Make sure that you are prepared for the moment. Opportunity must be met by preparation. I can’t tell you how many opportunities I have had early in my career that I wasn’t prepared to take full advantage of and as a result, that opportunity was a one-time thing that led nowhere. If I had been prepared, I would be further along in my career. Instead, I held back content that I had created waiting for the moment. I didn’t understand that I needed to be ready for the moment. I thought the moment would come and then I would show my work to the world. I had that wrong. Also, be bold. Have audacity. 

BGC: Any future projects?

I have several projects on the way. I just released a single and video called “Nostalgia” a couple of weeks ago. I have a theatre project and album release called Diamond & Bullets about love and the socio-emotional and political fallout of police brutality. Another project is with the City of Oakland. In collaboration with a few other artists, we are producing a concert based on the data from the Oakland Equity Report. I am working on an EP and I am launching a series of webinars. We launched one in March and are continuing to make our content available online. Right now, we are really looking for ways to continue to bridge the art and the consulting. That will be the focus of much of what will be released in the coming months.