Tonight I had the great pleasure of attending a rehearsal for a show I am in called “Broadway Soul”, which will be done on Monday evening, November 13th, as a benefit for the Amas Theater and its related functions. The creator of the evening is the same man I did shows with between 1975 and 1978, and I haven’t performed anything with professionals since my last show with him in 1978. It was fun and rewarding to attend this evening’s rehearsal of gospel, rock, blues, and soul music, all of which we learned by ear pretty much on the spot, for the show two days from now. It was great to be with four people who were with me in that last performance (three of whom I haven’t seen since then) and a whole bunch of others, some of whom were born well after 1978.
I am singing in every vocal quality, I go from G below middle C to a sustained high C#. We are also doing some simple choreography or movement in some songs, all of which I picked up on the spot.
Why is this significant? Why should anyone who is reading this care?
Because I am living proof that you don’t have to sing only one kind of sound to be healthy, to be viable, to be in shape. Because whatever “chops” I have, have been maintained by teaching, not by performing. Because the other people who are singing with me are also in great shape, and some of the gospel singers who are wailing away have been doing so for 40 years and sound absolutely terrific.
I expect to do a performance of Handel’s “Let The Bright Seraphim” with baroque trumpet and organ in December. I will have about four weeks to get it ready and I expect that will be more than enough time. I sang it successfully this past May.
Doesn’t it seem worthwhile to look at what I have done vocally? Not because I am this great singer, or because I have the best voice on earth (hardly), not because I have a different kind of vocal folds than other human beings, or more talent and ability than most professionals. No, it is because the process of learning to sing in a variety of styles, and of staying in shape has to do with respecting what works in the body. No one “owns” that knowledge, no one can possess it or take it away. It is learnable and it is teachable. And THAT is why paying attention to what has happened with me, and to me, all these years is important.
If you let the voice go where it wants with awareness, if you allow yourself to breathe, if you keep your connection to your heart and to music, only good can come from that. We are not limited, and neither are our voices.
I am thrilled to be singing again with these wonderful artists. It catapulted me right back to where I was all those years ago, as if in a time warp. The only thing piercing that bubble was my awareness that my voice is better and my mind is clearer now, at 57, than it was when I was 29.