Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Love . . . Music

When I was in middle and high school, I was known as the girl who could sing.

On field trips, the kids would ask me to sing--they would crowd around my bus bench and listen while I sang to them. Funny thing is, I didn't sing Gloria Estefan or Sheena Easton music. Not even Pat Benatar. I sang the oldies, like Unchained Melody and Somewhere Over The Rainbow. 

People would ask me to sing on the bleachers watching football practice, on the walk home from school, in the cafeteria. It was my thing.

I used to sing to my mom, too. 

When she lay dying, she would very often ask me to sing to her. Or she wouldn't, and singing was the only thing I could do for her. One day, in a brief moment of lucidity she told me to never let my music go. So after she died, I auditioned for, and was accepted into the music program at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Except, into my second year at the school, my vocal performance professor told me I had absolutely no talent and I should quit singing altogether.

And, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I believed her. And I quit.

I didn't sing at all after that. Not in the shower, not around my apartment, not even the hymns at church. After all, I couldn't sing.

It was not until several years later when I found myself regularly driving by the Opera House in Boise, Idaho that I began to suspect that professor had been wrong. There was a sign advertising an open call for chorus auditions for the opera company, and a little insistent voice in the back of my mind kept noodling at me to go for it.

When I mentioned it to David, he of course strongly encouraged me to go for it, because he had long disagreed with the professor who had dashed my dreams.

As fate would have it, I not only was accepted into the chorus, but I went on to study with the principle voice coach with the opera company and I eventually held principle roles at the company.

After one particularly powerful performance, I had a crowd of audience members waiting to greet me. One woman had tears streaming down her face and she took my hand in hers.
"You have the voice of an angel," she told me. "Thank you, for singing." I struggled to hold my own tears back as I threw my arms around her. 

"Thank you," I said. And what I meant, but I'm sure she couldn't have known, was, "Thank you for listening, for hearing me. Thank you for loving what I do. Thank you." 

When I stood on a stage, the music swelling around me, I felt like I held my heart in my hands and held it out, trembling, for the whole audience to see. But as the music carried me away, I let it carry my heart to the rafters, beyond, I let the music carry me

I have never felt so free, so completely alive, so utterly me, as when I have stood on a stage, offering my heart and soul in the music I sang. 

Music is God's gift to us. It lifts us, frees us. It allows us to connect to emotions that are too painful, too precious, to be easily accessible otherwise. Music is a prayer, a wish. Music is love.