Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Singing TrophyMusic is as much a part of me as my major organs.  I can remember being very young, and unable to go to sleep if there was music playing anywhere in the house, because my mind would start following and then anticipating the melodies, or even singing the words if I knew the song. It was maddening at times.

As I have related elsewhere in this blog, I became a professional vocalist early in my life. The following is a story I wrote for the Story Circle Network, which was featured in their September, 2011 journal.

It is typical for me to relate everything to lyrics. At the age of twelve I announced to my mother that I wanted to compete in a talent show up in Vancouver, B.C. which I had heard about on the radio.

I must give her credit. She didn’t laugh hysterically or start off with all of the reasons why this was a ludicrous idea. She just looked at me intently, asking, “Can you sing?”

Even I smile at the tiny little voice I had. It was clear, but it was not strong and had the breathy, girlish tone you would expect. My mother didn’t pause, and promptly went out and bought me a guitar.

My second obstacle arose as I quickly discovered that no amount of lessons was going to get me up to snuff in time for the contest.

Again, my mother practiced faith (or perhaps a blind optimism brought on by her own tone deafness) and she hired her best friend’s nephew to be my guitarist.

Meanwhile, I sang, and sang…and sang. I practiced holding a microphone and vocalized with old country and western records until I am sure my family’s ears were bleeding slightly.

One evening, as we ate our spaghetti dinner, something deep inside my mind clicked into place and I announced, “I think I got it!”

“Got what?” my stepfather asked skeptically. I opened my mouth to sing and this huge, contralto chest voice poured out, producing a Dolly Parton tune with the ease and phrasing of a professional. I gave it all I had, injecting the plaintive ballad with emotion and bringing tears to everyone’s eyes.

As I ended the last refrain, there was total silence and then my stepfather started to clap. My mother lit up with pride like I had never seen before and even my younger half-sister was stunned into momentary quiet.

My life was about to change in so many ways, and I would be riding a tiger which would alternately reward and disappoint me for the rest of my days.

That was the beginning of my singing career, which had its many ups and downs and sideways experiences, but ultimately fulfilled a passion I have always had for singing. I have battled a burning neuralgia in my throat and tongue for over three years now, and it kept me from singing for a long while. I recently started again, and God opened all kinds of doors for me to do so.

One of those doors was an Open Mic Night at our church, where I performed with a new friend named Jesse White and had a fabulous time. My pitch and phrasing weren’t perfect, but they were pretty good and the audience seemed to truly enjoy it.

The next day I got a lovely, complimentary note from Jerry Wise, who is a professional performer and serves as our music worship leader at our contemporary service. Later, he invited all of us who had performed to submit original songs for possible performance or inclusion in the services.  I didn’t think much of it, since I had never written a song.

Until now.

On the way home from workout the other day, a melody swirled around in my head, and almost effortlessly, the first verse of my very first song wrote itself as I drove. I hastened to my computer when I got home, fired up WORD and got the lyrics down as I looked for an app that would allow me to record the melody before I lost it to some distraction or another. I thought the song might be good, but was amazed when I sent it to Jesse and he loved it. I mean, really loved it.  He poured hours of thought and effort into capturing the melody in chord charts and helping me polish the lyrics. Then he sent me a text that said, “I think you need to copyright this.”

Wow. I was stunned, but responded that I was willing to do that if he would take credit for arranging or co-writing or something! Jesse is an object lesson in great talent with great humility and I practically had to browbeat him into taking a little credit, when in reality, the song would be nothing but a recording of me singing without his interest, encouragement and musical talent.

Since writing that first song, I have written two more…one that is fairly good and one that will probably get shelved. Evidently there have been songs swimming around in me that were ready to come to the surface and get some air. Where will this open door lead?  I have no idea, but I am enjoying the ride, as usual!

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