DREAMDATE: Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I was at a Kiwanis Festival class with my cousin Stacy and sister Susan. It was a competitive singing class for 15-16 year-olds. The venue was a church. It was a nice looking church, probably a Pentecostal or Salvation Army style, with oak pews and wooden detailing, a large altar and choir section, and even some sort of balcony above. We listened to probably 8 or 9 performers, and one of my colleague’s students, Ashley, was to perform last. I wondered if she felt a bit miffed that she had to perform last, because she gets so nervous when she sings that the waiting just makes her more anxious. But then thought, ‘Naw she’s seasoned by now, she’s a big girl and will be fine!’
But wait, the Kiwanis emcee had a name that was added to her list, someone who wasn’t in the program but was permitted to perform with the rest of the group. Strangely, it was an older lady. She was about 65 or 70 years old. She had round glasses, blondish-greying curly hair, and wore a light-colored dress. She appeared slightly nervous, yet slightly excited. She had brought a background tape with her, and as the music started and she began her first few lines, the Kiwanis adjuducator (judge of the performances) was so enthralled with the beautiful music that she began dancing and swaying her arms around the nervous singer. (We’ll call her Jane – although I know that the song itself was about Jane, not that her name was Jane. I had been listening to a Ben Folds song “Jane” a few days ago!) Jane was so thrown off by the dancing adjudicator that she bolted across to the other side of the room, and stood there in partial shock with one hand to her face, saying she was very nervous. The background music kept playing, and Jane eventually found her spot in the song, and continued. As she eased into the song, now her voice began to flow out like an angel. Hers was a pure, natural voice, laid above the contemporary pop karaoke track; sweet and uplifting. Unfortunately, as I looked around, I noticed that many people had left and the place was almost bare. Perhaps they had left before Jane had gone on, because they thought the class was over. Nonetheless, Stacy, Susan & I listened in our pew, enthralled at this elderly lady’s voice singing this beautiful song about being yourself and not pretending to be someone else. Jane was now so at ease she was walking upon the church alter, making arm movements and singing directly at the audience with confidence. Next thing, she was up on the balcony! She effortlessly kept going. Then, as the song rounded out, she walked to the far left side of the balcony. There was an apparatus hanging from the ceiling, at the height of the balcony. It was sloped almost like a mini slide. To our complete surprise, Confident Jane sat herself on the hanging apparatus, slid and propelled off it, and ended up landing on her feet straight up on the ground many feet below!! Thoroughly impressed, our small audience gave her a long, enthusiastic applause.
A few moments later we settled, and poor Ashley was now waiting in the wings to perform! Do your thing, Ashley!!
Moral of the story: If you think you’re too old to learn how to sing, you’re not! Music and creative arts is a form of expression that can be enjoyed at any age, and it helps to maintain a youthful spirit.
Recommended listening: “Jane” by Ben Folds Five, from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner