Originally posted on February 7th, 2009
I come from a very musical family. My mother played piano beautifully, and my father was a DJ in the Navy. My brother, brother-in-law, and 3 of my nephews all play guitar and sing. My niece Maria has a beautiful voice, and has had the opportunity to travel to Europe with her choir.
So it should come as no surprise that by age 9 I was belting-out little numbers around the house at the top of my lungs. When I was in the 4th grade there was an announcement in the school newsletter that there would be auditions held for The Children's Honor Choir. I raced home from school that day, eager to tell my Mother that I wanted to audition. Her response was not what I had hoped. She gently replied "Honey I'm not sure singing is something you're good at. You're such a ham, you should try out for a play instead." Now before you grow angry with her, I can honestly say I believe she was trying to spare me the pain of rejection. And, in her defense, she did offer up an alternative. But it mattered not. I was going to SING! And prove her wrong...
I devised a plan. Auditions were being held at our local community college, Hancock, at 2:00 in the afternoon. If you were going to audition, you had to take a 1/2 day at school. So when we were let outside for our lunch recess, I quietly slipped away from campus... and began my on-foot, cross-town trek to Hancock College. I'm not even sure that I knew exactly how to get there, but I was determined and I arrived in time to audition. Albeit a little tired and sweaty.
When I got home my Mother was moments from calling the police... and smoking from the ears. Turns out that when I didn't return from recess, the school called her at work.
Gee, I hadn't counted on that. Given the choice to explain myself immediately, or face the probability of not being able to sit down for a week, I told her what I had done- and that my audition had secured me a place in The Children's Honor Choir! Still not convinced that I could actually sing, but impressed by my iron-clad will, she signed the permission slip that I needed to join. Then she grounded me until choir practice commenced.
I sang with the choir for 2 years, and my Mother attended every performance. And yet, she remained my most unconvinced critic. When I'd explain to her that I would someday make enough money singing to take good care of her, she'd say something like "Honey, I know you love singing, but I really think you should take up acting. Do you want to take acting lessons? I don't know how we'll afford it, but if you want to take acting lessons, we'll look into it."
Of course I had no interest in acting. I was going to be an international pop sensation! But as I grew older, the doubt started to creep in. Maybe my Mother knew something I didn't? Therefor in the past 25 years, these are the efforts I've made to pursue my dream of a singing career:
- In 1988 I purchased a copy of the book "How To Make And Sell Your Own Record".
- I recorded a disastrous little demo while living in L.A., somewhere around 1990, which has since been destroyed.
- In the mid-90's, I studied with a vocal coach in Milwaukee, who was very encouraging, and seemed to think I possessed talent. But I stopped seeing him when he started pressuring me to audition for a musical he was directing. Me on stage? NO WAY!
- One night in 2003, after several cocktails, I nailed "Sam You Made The Pants Too Long" at some karaoke bar in Chicago.
I've been very inspired recently by several people, who are pursuing artistic sides of themselves that they either buried years ago, or didn't know they possessed. I myself, am frequently telling people to pursue what they love, and they will find success. So while at this point it seems unlikely that I'll become an international pop sensation, I do believe that it's not too late to practice what I preach. Scales from the top?