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Tina Tuner: Simply the Best

July 3rd of 1976 I was four years old, the oldest of two, almost three--my little brother was born later that month. I didn't know who Ike and Tina Turner were and I certainly didn't know anything about domestic violence or that Tina had chosen that night to leave--to literally escape from a hotel room, run across a busy highway, and end up at a Ramada Inn with a bruised and battered face, thirty-six cents, and a gas card to her name.

I came to be introduced to Tina Turner in the 80's, as a young child via an AM/FM radio and the Mighty 690. They introduced me to hits like What's Love Got to Do With It and Better Be Good to Me, but I still didn't know Tina Turner or her story. I didn't understand the irony of the lyrics or the courage that it had taken her to be where she was, singing those songs. Her hit Simply the Best came out in 1989, one year before I graduated high school. By this time I was aware she had been part of a duo--that Ike and Tina Turner was a thing and that he was abusive and she had left. I admired her for that, but at 18 years old with zero life experience, how I could I really get it?

I remember seeing clips of Tina's concerts well into her later years and being in awe that someone of her age could still come out and rock the way she did. She owned the stage. Watching her strut around, belting out her hits and entertaining the masses--she had fire in her.

For a large part of my fundraising career with a national health non-profit organization, I used her song Simply the Best at events and volunteer training seminars to create a mood, pump up the crowds, and show appreciation.

Honestly, I didn't learn many of the details of her leaving that abusive relationship until now--after her death. I hadn't understood what an icon she really was and how important she was in shining a spotlight on domestic violence back then. I wonder how many women back then got the courage to leave their own abusers because of her strength and courage--not only to leave, but to talk about it publicly. 1976 was a different time. Forty-Seven years ago. She was so brave.

Part of me is a little angry that we're not further along in this country. Forty-seven years seems like a long time to not be any further along than we are. But Tina found her voice and that's what I'm vowing to do as well. I will use my voice and my platform--however small it may be--to speak out. There are resources out there that weren't available to Tina in 1976, and that is progress. Thank you, Tina. You were Simply the Best.

If you'd like to read more about Tina's story, The New York Times did a wonderful piece that you can read here.

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