January 7, 2018

The Words...and Her Spirit

Think about the words...what are they saying? What are they saying to you?

I hadn't really thought about the words to the song. All I knew is that I couldn't sing like my sister -- my one and only sister -- a ridiculously AMAZING singer -- who was called upon to sing The National Anthem when then Presidential Candidate Jesse Jackson came to town.

Words? What words?

Juniors in high school who have been handed a Christmas solo to sing in the annual concert don't think about words to the song. They only think about hitting that astronomically high high note, or if a packed gym full of people would think that for once in her life, this dork wouldn't look like such a dork.

At least I did.

That is, until my mom, the original singer, church minister of music and leader of traveling Gospel music group (who, by the way, sang "on program" with Martin Luther King, Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers and James Cleveland) said I should.

So I did. She listened for my breathing, phrasing and how, and if I, interpreted the words. We practiced for weeks and then she sent me off for opening night. She'd done everything she could do. She'd be in the audience and I'd be there on stage. By myself. Heeding her advice...or not.

One thousand years later, my daughter texts to say that she's thinking about auditioning for Concert Choir. I text back It's just an audition...why the heck not? She's an artistic, musical kid and plays an instrument, but the singing thing? She's done it un-enthusiastically, unless the songs were by One Direction or K-Pop bands.

Still...I knew she could sing. I mean, her grandmother, her aunt, her uncles both play multiple instruments and sing. The girl's got it in her DNA, right?

So...what if you let me hear your audition song? I might be able to help.
MOM. That makes me totally nervous.
You do remember I've bathed you, seen everything and taught you your first song, right?
I know...but MOM.

Then I told her about the coaching her Grandma GeeGee did a thousand years earlier and how clueless and nervous I was when she coached me.

Next thing I know, we're in the basement and she's singing. To Me.

From someplace somewhere deep inside, I hear myself saying What are the words? Are you listening to the words? Think about what they mean and what you're saying and who you're saying those words to. Then later, Don't hold back...don't be afraid of someone hearing you.

You know that story about the Apostle Paul when his sight was restored after being struck blind, and scales fell from his eyes? There were no scales, but she changed in that moment.

I guess that's the whole point of being in choir, isn't it? So you can be heard, huh?
Pretty much.

She kept singing to me, soon my arms were reflexively flailing like a conductor soaring in an angelic descant, and guttural whispers were escaping with YES and HIT IT...and ONE MORE TIME. I was beside myself, and still am.

As much I want to be with her in the room when she auditions, I know I can't. It's got to be her on her own and me in an audience someplace else waiting to hear how it goes.

She did well and I told her so.

You're not just saying all this like moms do, or are you being unbiased?

I knew my mom really well. And after hearing you sing? You're definitely her granddaughter.

I hope I captured a little bit of her spirit.


  1. Never be afraid of someone hearing you when you are speaking truth from the heart. Thank you for doing that so often.