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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Singin' wi' th' band

I was watching "American Idol" tonight. I love the auditions, mostly because long ago I wanted to be an actress or a professional singer/musician. I can still feel my palms sweating.

God was good to me...the first time I ever sang...in public...and not only for the ear of my class music teacher, I did it because I HAD to sing in order to get the part I wanted.

I wanted to be "Annie" in "Annie get your Gun". A woman at my parish helped me to prepare. I still have no idea why. She was very involved in Community Theatre, and maybe she saw herself in my own longing to be on stage. So she helped me to prepare a song, and she was instrumental in boosting my confidence.

When I went the audition, I did not really believe I would get the lead. But I played it up, I had a good time, and maybe that's what they saw in me. I kept being called up to perform...and to sing. I had to sing a song I didn't know, and I was terrified.

They called me with a strange offer...to play "Annie" for 2 weeks until their Chosen finished with her finals at college. I was 15 going on 16, and I was in love...so I accepted the offer. And for that 2 weeks, I lived a dream. And I learned that I could sing, but had a long way to go to be "good".

It was OK, though. I was not jealous. I was disappointed, but that 2 weeks was a gift on a silver platter, and I was happy to have it. I look back now and realize that although I was enthusiastic, and passionate, and motivated...I was humble. I did not expect more, and in fact, believe I got more than I deserved. I was so grateful for the opportunity. I wish I had retained that trait.

When I was 20, I spent a semester in Mexico. By then, I knew I had a decent singing voice, although many of my closest friends had no idea. I was into my gung-ho feminist attitudes then, had moved away from the idea of a career, or even a hobby in theatre (although my heart told me different), and it was a secret longing...to sing on stage.

Well, in Puerto Escondido, one evening, I remember standing at the bar with my friends. When we walked in the band was performing the Eagles' "Hotel California". I knew the song well and had this melancholy feeling...I wanted to perform.

I said to my friends, "I want to sing!"

I didn't know the bar manager was standing behind me. Suddenly he grabbed my arm, led me up to the band and ordered me to sing!

I was flabbergasted. While I DID want to perform, I had no desire to make a donkey's rear out of myself in doing so. I was a part of a small group of Americans and I was stuck with them for at least another 40 days until we got home...and then, until graduation.

So I spoke to the band, and we came to an agreement...when I heard them start a song I knew, I would come up and sing. They had never heard me, only took it on good faith that I could carry a tune.

I was terrified. What had I done?

Then they began to play "Stand By Me".

I rushed up and they actuallly handed me the main mike. I took the mike in my shaking hand and sang, "When the night..has come..."

Then came the second verse. I was a flautist also at the time and I had a finely attuned ear. I KNEW when to stop, I could hear dischord and it rattled me if I heard it. I KNEW I was off-key somehow, but something told me to keep going. Trusting that instinct, I continued on and let it flow.

Let me just say that this band played everything with a blues rhythm, a blues style, and when I sang that second verse, I had apparently caught their "soul". I was the predominant singer..but I was singing harmony, not the melody. And somehow, I had begun doing this naturally. The band's lead singer joined, and I think he sang an random melody...hard to explain. But somehow, it WORKED!

I remember looking out at my friends, and they stared at me in astonishment as these notes came out of my mouth. I smiled and sang at them, thinking that there was NO WAY this could POSSIBLY be me.

It was incredible, it was amazing, and I KNEW I could not have done this if I tried.

I sang one other song with this band that night, "La Bamba" (define "irony"...a 20 year old American woman singing "La Bamba" in Spanish, in a tiny coastal town in Mexico).

I don't need "American Idol".

I'm not a great singer. My friends were amazed at the time of my little performance, and perhaps the gift I displayed deserved their astonishment...I was surprised too, after all.

But I'm not an "Idol". I'll never sing like Alicia Keys...but I know that with my voice, I can glorify God...and that's MORE than enough.

Don't be so shocked. Even wannabe devout Catholics can sing!

And so can you. Catholics have this reputation for being horrible singers, and maybe this is in part to some very bad choral directors in various parishes (although, as I understand it, Protestant churches suffer from bad songleaders also).

So open your mouth, and at least TRY...that's all the Lord asks of you. Don't think about how you sound...just offer your voice to God and let Him do the work.

You'll be amazed when he takes over, whether in singing or any other venue...when God takes the reins, you KNOW it...just don't forget to give him the credit.

God bless, and good night!

3 comments:

Kei said...

I hear ya girl! I love to sing to God, even if my voice isn't like Aretha Franklin. Singing once is praying twice, no?

The human voice is the very vessel of praise. To add a melody and rhythm to it is like turning something normal into something expressive, and beautiful. God gave us the gift of music. Why don't we cherish it by singing it back to him?

Whether I'm at communion, singing Pange Lingua Gloriosi, or The King of Love My Shepherd Is, or even Where You There, my voice is there for the glory of God.

Plus, I last converted to Protestant Christianity before I reverted back. My English class finds my voice annoying. My other friends find my voice not super-awesome, but pleasant to hear. Ah well. It's in God's hands now! ;)

Adoro Te Devote said...

Hi Kei!

I have a very dear friend who can't sing a note...she's terrible! But God Bless her heart, she puts her whole soul into it because she is glorifying God, if not with good singing, then at least with her willingnes to keep trying!

I have to ask (because I'm nosy), why does your English class find your voice annoying? Are you singing Shakespeare????

Kei said...

I think it's the content. Usually I sing "Sunshine, Lollipops" just to annoy the heck out of them. Well, it's mainly one guy... I have some problems when talking to him, as he seems to criticise me sometimes...

Other than that, I usually sing what comes into my mind, may it be a ballad, a gospel tune, praise and worship, a hymn, etc. Which is why I can't remember, since I sing alot to practice my voice.

Amen for your dear friend! ^__^ I wish all the people at my parish would sing. I know a small parish of my friend's, and my, for a small parish, they sing as if they were Pentecostal! (They have a thriving Charismatic prayer group there, so I assume that it's causative to the singing gusto!)

Anyways, I should go. All for the best, in God's love (and the Numbers blessing!)

Kevyn.