Tonight I had the great privilege of hearing Jenny Burton sing. Jenny is a wonder. I can’t imagine anyone seeing her perform who does not recognize that the amount of talent in this one human being is stupendous. You can’t take your eyes off her when she sings and her voice is capable of many kinds of sounds. (Listen to her at www.watchfiremusic.com)
She moves constantly with grace and beauty, joy and freedom while she sings. She never ever stands with her arms hanging limp at her sides, as so many now do, and her face radiates the beauty that shines from deep within her as she pours forth the music from her heart. It’s as if she goes directly to heaven and links us up to the source of all music through her voice.
I do not know why Jenny did not have a major international career such as the one Whitney Houston had when she was in her heyday. I do not know why everyone does not know this woman, but I do know that singing such as this graces the world, makes it a better place and lifts up the weary to give them strength to go on going on. Even if you never hear it, it makes you a better person, somehow, in that it sends such juice into the molecules of air around her that they get carried into the ethers with more spin and sooner or later, all that energy bounces back to each of us.
When I hear Jenny sing, I remember that I, too, sing. I remember the many people I have known in my life who also sing, and I remember how many of them are wonderful, special singers who have never been recognized by the world. They do not have careers, you will not see or hear them, they are not going to be famous and they may never even make a professional recording. They may have given up their dreams, or been forced by life to go in a different direction, but in their hearts, that love of singing, that commitment to song — words and melody — never diminished. Those people are Jenny’s kin, they family that she has all over the world.
Those of us who sing, who are deeply commited to singing and what being a singer gives us, understand. That the soul can be fed by singing, and by listening to singers who understand how to dive deep into the ocean of sound that is in us and around us, is something singers deeply know. We realize that singing is not a material possession, we know that is cannot be weighed or measured. We comprehend that we cannot hold onto it or bequeath it to others when we die. We know it is alive moment to moment and then gone and we recognize that every singer, every song, every time, is unique and special. We live knowing that it is something to be cherished nonetheless, because the singular experience of hearing someone sing while living in each second as a carrier of the most potent force in the universe — sound — is unforgettable and always a gift.