I wanted to be in our school's talent show so bad, but I had to be a Junior, Senior or a gifted Sophomore in order to sing a solo. I was a Sophomore and I believed I was "gifted." So I took the plunge, stepped out and signed up for "tryouts."
Mr. Reed looked so much like Richard Dreyfuss' from "Mr. Holland's Opus," but these were vocal classes he taught at Palm Springs High, not band as Mr. Holland taught. He was very much the same type of personality; everything was done to the letter. Performing; guys in black pants, white shirts. Girls, hair pulled back, no earrings, only posts. . . shoes. . . beige pumps. YUCK! This was before pumps were in 5 years later in the 80's.
Mr. Reed had very high standards for his singers. Only the best would do or the very popular. But I would give it shot anyway.
He asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this even though I was only a Sophomore and didn't have anyone to accompany me. I was sure. I would sing my song "a cappella."
I figured Janis Ians' "At Seventeen" would show off my vocal skills and belt singing. It described how I felt about the world, even though I was only 15. But I was just like Janis' song described, who saw the world as meant for "beauty queens" with "clear skinned smiles."
Oh yes, I sang my heart out and loud;
"And those of us with ravaged facesLacking in the social gracesDesperately remained at homeInventing lovers on the phoneWho called to say come dance with meAnd murmured vague obscenitiesIt isn't all it seemsAt seventeen"
I threw my heart into that song. I knew I had done a good job. But I didn't get chosen to do a solo. I would have to be content with being one of the singers. But inside, it affected me more than I let on, even to myself.
Aside from other teenage growing pains, I became more and more detached from school, even choir, which was the very reason I even went to school.
Junior year, the talent show came and went.
Senior year, another talent show. I was more and more absent from school, but I showed up to choir. I couldn't bring myself to tryout again. The only redeeming thing about the talent show this year would be that we'd be performing Earth, Wind & Fire's "Fantasy." I loved that song.
I had no idea who was doing solos, nor did I care. Until I saw 2 of the most popular girls, Renee and Linda, doing MY SONG!!!! They were terrible! They were so quiet, they could hardly be heard. No feeling, no passion, just notes and words. I was crushed!
That was 27 years ago!!! Wow!
I sing today, but never have I ever had to audition for anything. I've either been invited to sing, record or lead women's worship or choral stuff, which I totally love.
But today . . . I auditioned.
I auditioned to see if I could do it. To prove to myself that I could get up in front of a group, a part from church or choral people.
It wasn't important for me to win the audition. The winning, for me would be in stepping out.
Our local Christian radio station, Spirit 105.3 held these auditions, for a charity a local mall has every year and Spirit provides local entertainment to kick off the Christmas Season.
Let me first say that, the selection was pretty minimal. Young and old-er, who sang okay, but in my opinion were very courageous to even get up on stage and sing with and without music. And then there were some groups and one choir that needed to continue in their musical training.
But there were a handful that was very, very good.
Inside. . . I knew I didn't really have anything to worry about, because I didn't really care if I was chosen as a performer or not. With that in mind, I knew first impressions are everything, so my clothes had to make a statement. Song: pick a holiday song, but one that will get the audience involved, clapping, etc.
I chose "Let's Make a Baby King" recorded by Wynonna, but I prefer "New Grass Revival's soulful, bluegrassy version.
My friend, Jessie, her husband, Paul and daughter Ashley gave me tips on keeping the audience "awake." As well as body movement and singing tips. Keeping all what they told me in mind, I gave it my all for that 1:30 sec audition.
Trying not to lose focus, I can't help but notice first that my voice was a lot stronger than everyone else who had auditioned to that point. As I am trying to concentrate, I notice people in the mall turning around to see who was singing. Then I notice people smiling and clapping their hands.
I feel a little more confident and let go a little more, allowing my head to turn in rhythm to the music, but with that, my mouth moves away from the mike. . . no longer being heard. . . I turned back. Jessie is relieved!!! Whew!
The smile on sound guy's face says it all. As I end, I get a pretty solid applause and Mike Tedesco of Spirit says to me, "That was a great job." He hadn't said anything like that to anyone else at that point. I felt very satisfied and proud.
What a feeling as many of the other singers had paid me the same compliments. Jamilla, a lovely young mother, whose voice was incredible as she sang a Rachel Lampa tune, told me her husband said that I had my "groove on." I told her that I wish I could sing like her.
A few minutes later, a man carrying a professional video camera, looking very serious comes up to me, asks me what church I attend, then proceeds to give me a card. I see it has the call letters to the local TBN station. He then tells me that I would be perfect for their "Praise the Lord" show here in Seattle and to call the station to make an appt.
Funny. . . I wasn't gushing. I was excited, but not elated. I, of course shared the news with my friends, but was more satisfied with my accomplishment of stepping out.
Do I believe I've won a spot to sing at this event? Jessilyn thinks I have, but I don't really care too much. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Had I proven this old point to myself?
I think from the moment I belted out the first note, I no longer had a point to prove. Inside I knew that I could always do it. I am talented and have been given multiple opportunities to show off that talent.
I just never really gave myself permission to let go.
I am giving myself permission!