I've loved to sing for some time, as my bathroom walls and family will attest. The feeling that I get when I sing is incomparable, and the satisfaction of caressing and maneuvering a note in just such a way as to convey the emotion of a piece is without peer. Along with writing, I consider singing to be my greatest passion.
Until November 30th, however, I had never actually performed for an audience.
Around the beginning of November, Blonde Journalist Friend started work organizing a holiday charity concert that would be performed at our school. She'd heard me sing before so enlisted me as a vocalist (I am musically useless at anything else), a request I agreed to despite my nervousness. I've had perpetual stage fright when it comes to my voice, but my urge to actually perform finally overcame my reservation, and I realized turning down an opportunity that had landed so blatantly in my lap would be something I'd intensely regret later.
"A few songs" turned into four solos, and a week before the event she took me to her apartment to figure out which arrangements would be best. She asked me to warm up using some of my favorite arists, and I did, belting out hits from Avril Lavigne and others.
"Wow, you have a range," she said. "Maybe we should try O, Holy Night?"
I was a bit more apprehensive than she; the song was by far the most challenging in her repertoire, but she wanted to attempt it.
"Can you hit this note?" she asked, plucking a string on her harp. "It's the highest in the piece."
I opened my mouth, thought about it, asked her to play it again, and then produced the matching pitch.
The concert was under-attended to say the least--there were probably fifteen or twenty people listening to us, but I was happy for the small crowd; it allowed me to go on in front of a real audience for the first time without being too terrified to make a peep.
In spite of my worst fears, I got through the entire thing without messing up, and the high notes produced no problems. In fact, my only vocal failing of the night was on the low notes, several of which I noticeably struggled with. My lower register has never been great, and as my upper chest voice has improved with greater vocal use the deeper part of my range has actually gotten worse, if that can be imagined.
We were videotaping this event and I had every intention of posting a revised, pseudonymity-conscious version here. I figure if I can put myself out there in real life, I can be myself out there in the blogosphere. Unfortunately, the camera died halfway through the night and I wasn't recorded.
En lieu of that, I have posted a two-part cover I did of Kelly Clarkson's new song, "Don't Let Me Stop You."
I am so proud of myself for doing something I've dreamt of doing for a long time, and of managing to put my fear aside.
When I finished my numbers, a young man who'd been watching commented, "You have a powerful voice. I wish I could sing like that."
Given that I'd just been hoping I wouldn't ruin the event, this compliment made my night.
It's true that I was shaky and heavily blushing when I first stood up to sing--but several moments later that feeling went away, and I didn't want to stop. After the initial barrier had been pushed down, I found myself high on the energy and the exuberance, a high I'd like to continue pursuing. I want more of this.