“Golden Linings” by Ralitsa-Kona Kalfas

I wrote “Golden Linings” nearly two years ago in April of 2020. At a time where I, like most others, was made to turn inward because of lockdown and the world’s shift. This song is about my journey to releasing toxic positivity, surrendering to vulnerability, and acknowledging all parts of myself; Recognizing self-acceptance can’t be forced or found in the illusion of control. This is also the first song I am formally releasing.

When getting close to publishing this song, I was confronted by the irony of being anxious to release it, having trouble fully internalizing the vulnerability in the words I wrote – Knowing I was small and safe inside, unexposed to the light.

I grew up singing and performing in recitals, bands, musicals, and choirs throughout my childhood into college. Upon graduating and working full-time in public health, I found it challenging to perform and connect to a musical community with the same ease. I then started writing songs with limited technical ability – using loops on GarageBand and teaching myself basic chords on my boyfriend’s keyboard – but with so much joy. This newfound experience was incredibly cathartic and humbling. 

I struggled, however, with how to present and hold this new identity: describing my songwriting as a passionate practice(?) But not deigning to call myself an artist. Who was I to be an “artist”? Much of this uncertainty was undoubtedly tied up in perfectionism. I didn’t believe (and honestly at times still question if) I had the tools to give birth to the quality of songs I loved to perform and consume. I approached my relationship with music from a different, more tender angle than I had before. 

What could I do other than ground myself and turn to my loved ones for guidance? One of my best friends asked, “What do you hope to gain by releasing your music?” This question instigated an internal dialogue I had not been brave enough to fully ignite. 

When I performed in the past, I found myself reveling in two things: validation and connection. As I grow and heal, I feel more secure in releasing the same desire for validation (yet can understand how it served me in the past). As I’ve come to more fully and authentically realize my worth, I don’t require the same type and level of external approval my mind and heart once craved. However, I want to preserve and expand on the aspect of connection. 

I desire to connect more with the person I have become and am becoming. To give myself room to evolve and progress my expressions of creativity from what they once were. I also want to gain a deeper link to the heritage of music within my family and cultures. While my parents have always profoundly supported me (and my sister) in our passion for singing, neither of them (in their own words) passed along the ability. I’ve been told my musicality originated from a few places:

From the Nahale family, my Mom’s Kānaka Maoli ohana from Hawai’i, who have used mo’olelo to pass down stories and histories; From my paternal grandma, Yiayia’s, father who played the Bouzouki, a traditional string instrument heard in Greek nightclubs; And from my maternal grandpa, Poppy, who played the keyboard in The Monzas, a pop-rock beach band, in the 1960s. 

In addition to the desire for connection with myself and my communities, I want to connect with pleasure without the expectation of capital or profit. I don’t think my music will attain commercial success, but why shouldn’t I invest in the practices and spaces that incite radical, perhaps illogical joy? Ultimately, I can return to “Golden Linings” and decide to stand in the words I wrote: I will dare to look / Uncover each page of my book / I will trust to dive / Into the dark and into the light. 

Listen to “Golden Linings”  here 

Ralitsa-Kona Kalfas is a 24 year old singer-songwriter and public health professional based in New York City by way of Durham, North Carolina. She is passionate about the role of storytelling/narrative/art  in health equity and community-centered healing. Ralitsa-Kona seeks to continually ground and grow through exploring her identities as a white, Greek, Southern, Kānaka Maoli (Hawaiian) woman. Her most treasured record at the moment is Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun and is on a mission to find the best baklava in Astoria.

Connect with Ralitsa-Kona: Instagram / Tik Tok / Facebook

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