It’s hard writing about this subject because of the passion I have for singing. Ever since I was a little girl all I ever wanted to do was sing. I had a cousin who was quite a bit older than I who had a beautiful voice. When I would stay at their house I would hear her sing while she was vacuuming. I was all of about seven but when I vacuumed at my house I would sing and pretend I had a voice like hers. My heart would sing regardless of whether my voice matched my passion. I have never lost that love. When I hear anyone sing with that joy I’m seven again.
It doesn’t matter whether or not they have a well trained voice or whether they speak with tone. It is the emotion they bring to the singing that makes it special to me. I have performed over the years briefly and have loved it and feared it at the same time. I have discovered that the reason why I never pursued it was because if I wasn’t “good” enough then I would have not been able to live my passion. That the fear of not being able to fulfill my passion was just too much to face.
I have sung at Caroline’s in New York, Cafe Montana, now known as Le Montana in Paris and the long gone Village Gate. I sang in a madrigal group at Julliard but only for a short time. I studied voice and at one time thought I might have the courage to actually put myself out there in a serious way. But fear took over and I settled for a safe behind the scenes career. Not necessarily easier but safe in the vein of not being visually known and hence not being judged.
I had an amazing teacher who was a beautiful person as well as an incredibly talented jazz pianist who had played sessions for Lena Horne. He always said singing was speaking with tone and to go for the feeling rather than the vibrato. Life is a lot like that. Pure living for the passion and joy instead of posturing. He taught me about the beauty of simplicity. Billie Holiday didn’t have a classically trained voice but she sure made up for it in singing from the heart.
I admire Billie Holiday in other ways than her singing. The depth of her feelings caused her to have other problems in her life but it sure didn’t take away from her strength of singing no matter what. She just sang and didn’t let people judge whether she could. She didn’t have a choice but to sing. That is what made her, to me, such a dynamic soul.
I know I have an option of looking for venues where I can sing in groups or just for myself. Going back to studying just to fulfill an empty part of my soul that could use some love. Not in a melancholy way but in a joyful way. Just for me. Like my beloved teacher, George, use to tell me. Speak with tone. How sweet that would be.