INSP Vendor Playlist: The diverse musical tastes of One Step Away vendors

Those who sell One Step Away on the streets of Philadelphia are like a microcosm of the entire street paper network’s contribution to this playlist – diverse, coming from a range of backgrounds, and with a varied musical taste. Here, they talk about their song choices.

Edward Johnson (42) on ‘Work’ by rapper Meek Mill, who was recently released after being sentenced to two to four years in prison for a parole violation, a decision which met with outcries of an injustice and support from throughout the music community: “I choose this song because it’s inspiring. Especially when I’m about to go to work, I put it right on. It’s my hype song.”

One Step Away vendor Edward Johnson

Sylvia Williams (57) on ‘Just Like You’ by Keyshia Cole: “I chose this song because it talks about growing and moving up in life. And you need some stepping stones, and you also need strength, courage, and faith. That’s what it talks about, needing strength to rise above, and God. Without God I would still be in the dark.

“The song teaches me not to be stagnant, and it teaches me to keep moving and pushing. It gives you a purpose in life – that’s what it means to me.

“The song is significant to me because I know when I was using, I couldn’t look in the mirror. The song talks about you looking into the mirror and finding out who you are and what you are in life. Now I can look in the mirror since I’m not using anymore – because I used to run past the mirror, back and forth, back and forth – I couldn’t look in it, because I looked like a hot mess. But now that I look good and feel good – spiritually, physically, and mentally – that song helps me to grow.”

One Step Away vendor Sylvia Williams

Neal McLaurin (39) on the acapella version of ‘If I Ever Fall in Love’ by 90s RnB quartet Shai: “When I first heard this in the seventh grade I just fell in love – I got butterflies, because there was the young lady I kind of liked and it reminded me of her. It makes me feel joyous and pure. It reminds me of when I was young. This was when I started my first signing group. I heard some guys in the hallway at school and I fell in love with singing.”

One Step Away vendor Neal McLaurin

Slobodan Mkrojevic (60) on The Doors’ psychedelic masterpiece ‘The End’, famously featured in the movie Apocalypse Now: “I was very young, maybe 18, and everyone started listening to The Doors. Jim Morrison – I find everything about him interesting. It makes you think about what’s to come.”

One Step Away vendor Slobodan Mkrojevic

Maria James on the Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway duet ‘Where is the Love’: “It reminds me of people, and when I don’t think people are showing enough love I think of that song. It sends a message of ways people should share love and what people think of when they think of love and why there isn’t enough love.”

One Step Away vendor Maria James

Check out the full playlist here.

Editing by Tony Inglis