Skip to main content

McBride: The Maya Angelou I knew

By Martina McBride
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
Maya Angelou, a renowned poet, novelist and actress best known for her book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," has died at the age of 86, according to her literary agent, Helen Brann. Maya Angelou, a renowned poet, novelist and actress best known for her book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," has died at the age of 86, according to her literary agent, Helen Brann.
HIDE CAPTION
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
Maya Angelou: Poet, novelist and actress
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Country singer Martina McBride remembers her friend and mentor Maya Angelou
  • Angelou -- a poet, author, actress and activist -- died last week at 86
  • Celebrities from Oprah to Michelle Obama gathered Saturday for services in North Carolina

Editor's note: Martina McBride is a Grammy-nominated country singer and songwriter. You can follow her on Twitter @martinamcbride. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- As her friends, her family and the world celebrated Maya Angelou last weekend, I am struck by the imprint she left on me.

Maya Angelou was a shining example of how powerful and strong, good and giving, courageous and dignified, gracious and lovely a human being can be.

Martina McBride
Martina McBride

Her generosity of spirit is truly beautiful. Whether she was doing an interview with a stranger or talking to a friend, she was so giving of her spirit, always making whomever she was talking with feel important and lifted up.

Being around her made you want to be the best you could be, because she saw the best we could be. And she was like a bright and shining mirror. Because she saw the best in us, we could see it in ourselves. And once we saw it we had a responsibility to live it.

We were talking once about writing songs and why I had been hesitant for so long to really jump in and write my own songs. She said, "Sometimes it's not the fear of failing at something that holds us back. It's the fear of succeeding. Because we know that once we take that step and do whatever we've been holding back and succeed at it, the world will expect more of us."

So true.

With the death of Maya Angelou, the world has lost one of the premier female voices in African-American literature. Angelou belonged to a group of women writers who began to rise in prominence after the turn of the 20th century and who depicted in letters the lives of African-American and Afro-Caribbean women. Click through the gallery for examples of Angelou's contemporaries. With the death of Maya Angelou, the world has lost one of the premier female voices in African-American literature. Angelou belonged to a group of women writers who began to rise in prominence after the turn of the 20th century and who depicted in letters the lives of African-American and Afro-Caribbean women. Click through the gallery for examples of Angelou's contemporaries.
Maya Angelou's contemporaries
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
Maya Angelou\'s contemporaries Maya Angelou's contemporaries
Maya Angelou: In her own words
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Maya Angelou: In her own words Maya Angelou: In her own words

Maya's wisdom and generosity of spirit inspired us all. What if she had hid that light? She was brave enough and open enough and strong enough to share her brilliant mind and spirit with the whole world. And we are all better for it.

She made no secret she was a fan of music and particularly a fan of country music. I was beyond honored that she said she liked my music and me, as a woman.

"Everything you sing," she once said, "sounds like it comes from your heart." How awesome is that, and to come from Maya Angelou!

Maya also shared her wisdom through her words. One of my favorite phrases of hers is: "Can't do is like don't care. Neither of them have a home."

But perhaps my very favorite words were the last words she spoke to me. "Come visit me in my home. I will cook for you."

Thank you, Maya. You forever changed my world -- our world, the whole world -- for the better.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1938 GMT (0338 HKT)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Martha Pease says the NFL commissioner shouldn't be judge and jury on player wrongdoing.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
It's time for a much needed public reckoning over U.S. use of torture, argues Donald P. Gregg.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
Peter Bergen says UK officials know the identity of the man who killed U.S. journalists and a British aid worker.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1128 GMT (1928 HKT)
Joe Torre and Esta Soler say much has been achieved since a landmark anti-violence law was passed.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2055 GMT (0455 HKT)
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1241 GMT (2041 HKT)
Jane Stoever: Society must grapple with a culture in which 1 in 3 teen girls and women suffer partner violence.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2211 GMT (0611 HKT)
Bill Clinton's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in 1992 went through 22 drafts. But he always insisted on including a call to service.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2218 GMT (0618 HKT)
Joe Amon asks: What turns a few cases of disease into thousands?
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1721 GMT (0121 HKT)
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
Analysts weigh in on the president's plans for addressing the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT