Essence: Basketball player, musician, philanthropist
With the evolution of entertainment in and around sports, athletes have been taking on new opportunities.
Essence Carson embodies this newfound freedom.
Essence, a 13-year WNBA veteran who was a 2011 WNBA All-Star and 2016 champion, is ready for her second year with Athletes Unlimited.
But being an athlete is just one of the unique things that Essence does. Add a philanthropist, musician, speaker, and senior manager to that list as well.
Essence took a liking to music at a very young age. Growing up in New Jersey, her grandparents and aunt would always play music around the house. Although her grandma insisted on playing the same ‘broken’ piano, Essence loved the way music made her feel.
“[Music] will always evoke some sort of emotion, and that made me feel good,” Essence said. “It felt relatable…it felt like they were talking about my life and where I’m from. And then there are other songs where it talks about a life that you aspire to have one day.”
While music has always been a part of Essence’s life, she felt outside pressure to solely focus on one interest.
“When I was young, many people didn’t understand how you could focus on two different passions,” Essence said. “So, to combat that, I kept both worlds separate and it just kind of became a thing. It got to a point where I was tired of being these two different people. It’s exhausting being one person in today’s world, so I was tired of being two different people.”
To the public eye, basketball was the spotlight of Essence’s life; but Essence never stopped pursuing music. In 2013, she showcased her work and released her first album called “Broken Diary.”
Essence expressed that this first album was special to her as it was her way of opening up to everyone. While she now has a successful music and basketball career, the NIL was not around when she was in college. When asked if she wished it was, she laughed.
“Man, absolutely…I definitely would have benefited from it, but it is what it is, it wasn’t my time.”
Essence is now retired from the WNBA, but didn’t stay away from professional basketball entirely as she is back for another season with AU after finishing season 1 No. 18 on the leaderboard with 3,350 points.
Along with music, Essence has been finding ways to give back. She joined a campaign called Operation Warm.
“Operation Warm happens to be able to provide coats for children, and since New Jersey is within the northeast of the United States, it gets pretty cold, especially during the wintertime,” Essence said. “You would hate to see any of the kids that weren’t in the position to access that stuff, and you want to ensure that they have a means, and that means is making sure that they’re warm during the winter.”
Essence stresses the importance of giving back to the community. Joining this cause and raising money for these kids is near and dear to her heart.
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In addition to joining community projects, Essence has been working on her own projects as well.
She recently completed an EP about her thoughts and reflections during the pandemic. The release date is to be announced, but Essence explained that it is completed and will be dropping soon.
While Essence has been enjoying life, she also has found new power and a sense of completeness. Recently, she changed her artist and producer name from ‘Essence Carson’ to just ‘Essence.’
“I put a period at the end of Essence for a specific reason. It’s more complete with a period at the end. It’s whole. It represents the completion and being completely fulfilled with who I am — basketball player, musician, philanthropist, and so on.”
So, ‘Essence.’ it is.
Jade Thomas is a former UNLV basketball player, and is pursuing her education in Journalism and Sports Media. She is a correspondent with Athletes Unlimited. You can follow her @jade_t4.
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