We heard the amazing life story of Camille Metoyer Moten who was our speaker at Lincoln South Rotary Club on January 15, 2021. You might want to open this copy of the power point slides and follow along as you read the story.

Nothing is Everything.
Not one thing needs to define you or your life.

Camille wanted to talk about her life - what has led her to the opportunity to share her passion through song.

She started by talking about her ancestors. Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer came from France to Louisiana, He met an African woman with whom he had 10 children. He eventually let her go. This was at the time when Slavery was prevalent. Melrose plantation was built her in the early 1800’s after she earned her freedom from slavery and became a wealth entrepreneur. 

Camille's grandfather was born in Louisiana and worked for the railroad. During the time when blacks were migrating north, Metoyer joined them and started a BBQ shop. It was wildly successful and they shipped BBQ all over the country.

Born with blond hair, green eyes and light skin, Camille hated that she was such an odd looking black girl. She also had a number of health issues. But she liked to sing. She did not know any songs so would make up songs of the things she saw - such as singing about the furniture.

Her first encounter with racism was when she was about 5. The family was turned away from a Chinese restaurant. Her mom explained that there would be times when others may not like her. But it was not her problem - it was their problem - for not understanding.

Camille's parents were active in civil rights and her Dad became the president of the Urban League. Because of their involvement, Camille had opportunities to meet civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X and Jesse Jackson. It also led to her arrest at age 8. Her parents were involved in a march on City Hall for open housing. There was a picture in the paper of Camille and her father being led to jail.

At age 8 she learned that she had Scoliosis and had to wear a brace. Kids at school were making fun of her. But, again, her Mom's wise words helped her deal with it - those are not your real friends her mom said. Upon returning to school, Camille learned how true those words were. Most of the kids were just fine - there were only a couple of kids that were teasing. She had gone to school expecting the negative but, when she focused on the positive, that is what she experienced.

They had to go to get her brace adjusted. While sitting in the waiting room there were other kids with prosthetics. She realized that they had to remove their arms or legs to get them adjusted - she only had to remove a brace. She learned to appreciate she had.

Not one thing is Everything.

Her parents were determined to give them the best education that they could in the public school system. While her brother was attending tech school, they got his school books and realized that they had been used by a few students before him. The books were shipped to the school from another school that was getting new books. Though her parents wanted to do something about that inequity they realized that a quicker solution was to move. They faced the challenge of neighbors not wanting blacks in the area. 

Camille participated in all of the music programs that she should - and she was good. The school was holding auditions for Guys and Dolls and Camille was certain that she would get the lead. But she did not. She got a speaking part. At the time she was also dealing with another personal challenge - her mother had brain cancer. She lost her mom during her Senior Year. She thought getting that part might brighten her spirits a bit. She learned that it was the theater director that made the choice "because she would not have a white boy kiss a black girl on stage".

She wanted to get out of Omaha so she moved to New Orleans where her ancestors were from. Though she was able to stay in school, she had so much stress that she got involved with drugs and was smoking marijuana regularly.

She met a great guy and they spent a lot of time together and they were happy. When she asked about his New Year's Resolution he said he wanted to get closer to God. This changed his life in an instant. She stayed with him and realized what had been missing in her life. They married and had their 1st son.

Because of the way she was raised, she began to feel that she needed to give back. Her Dad invited the couple to apply for the Family Teaching position. They interviewed on Thursday and returned to New Orleans only to have tragedy strike again. That next Monday her father was shot by a disgruntled employee and he died. The couple did take the job at Boys Town.

After a number of years, working and living with the troubled children, Camille decided it was time for a change. She took a club away from Boys Town and her husband stayed on in another position. A few years later she was working at Lucent/Connectivity Solutions. Her boss hated her but she learned humility. One day Camille was headed out of her office to meet with other staff when her boss came in stating that she needed to talk with her. Sitting back down the boss wasn't talking about business - but her personal life. Camille asked if there was something she waned to talk about with her. Her boss said "I am talking to you now. You are so stupid". Camille grabbed her things and left the building. But, as she thought about the experience she figured out how to adjust - and it did not happen to her again.

When the company was offering severance packages to management, she was happy to accept. Since she had a year's salary she decided to take that time to concentrate on music.

Then the next blow - she was diagnosed with cancer. She thought that God had a plan to lead her through it and she cancelled her surgery. Later she decided to go through the surgery and treatment.

With her hair loss she learned that you cannot put foundation makeup just on your face - you have to cover  your entire head - otherwise it looks like you are wearing a mask. She does not know why - but she did not have the sickness that many have with treatment - which she was grateful for. She had fun with it.

We should always expect good things.
Nothing is Everything.

Click here for a copy of the power point slides.
Camille has her music website at: www.musicbycamille.com.
To contact Camille by email - click here.cmetoyermoten@youthcareinc.org

 

BIO:

A native of Omaha, and graduate of Xavier University of New Orleans, Camille has been singing and acting for 40 plus years.  Often described as “Omaha’s most versatile singer” she is an independent singer/songwriter and performs for many special events as a guest soloist and also has her own pop/jazz band that performs for special events.  

Camille also has a love for theater. Her theater performance credits include many starring roles and she has been a recipient of several awards including the Omaha Arts and Entertainment award, Theater Arts Guild, Fonda/McGuire awards, Omaha Musician’s Black Hall of Fame and the Nebraska Musicians Hall of Fame.  She was nominated as top jazz vocalist for 2015 and 2019 in the city.  She has released three CD’s.  

She also has written a book regarding her cancer triumph entitled Nothing Is Everything.

Her music has enabled her to travel many places including trips to Barcelona, Spain and Germany.  Camille has been an inspirational speaker encouraging others to not be fearful, realize Nothing Is Everything and to expect good things.

Camille has been a member of Omaha’s Downtown Rotary for 10 years and is a past president.  She sits on the Omaha Community Playhouse, Ronald McDonald House and Arts for All boards.

Camille has been married for 44 years with two adult children and one son of her son. Her first love is serving the Lord and she thanks Him continually for all the blessings in her life.