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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rediscovering One's Own Voice

At the very start I need to preface this entry by stating that, I am NOT a singer. No, that description doesn’t quite fit me, at least not a singer in the true sense or meaning of the word. To me, Pavarotti was a singer. Luther Vandross, Donny Hathaway and Nat King Cole were singers. So, no, in the realest sense of the word or in its truest definition, nah, I’m NOT a singer.

I have, however, been accused of possessing the ability to: ‘carry a tune.’ Yes. Truth be told, I have pretty good pitch, and have performed a mad impressive Seal impression (‘Don’t Crrrrrrrrrrr-i-i—aye-eye… you’re not alone’) in a karaoke bar or two where my efforts were pretty well received. History: I once sang in my junior high school glee club, in my high school chorus, and in a pop soul band in my early 20s. I was that cat who could take a popular song and rework the arrangement and make it sound different, but somehow appealing.

So, I guess you could say I HAD the music in me.

None of this semi-talent would pay my bills and I am and have always been a realist, completely aware of the limitations of this. So, I NEVER went around proclaiming myself to be a ‘singer,’ never did wedding and bar mitzvah thing, never played the chitlin’ circuit, never tried out for Star Search in the 80s.

However, and this is the best thing of all, when you can carry a tune, you can sing quietly to yourself and brighten your mood, keep yourself company, carry a good Zen kinda feeling about the world around you that’s yours and all yours. Maybe people who don’t sing so well, but who love music also feel this way. They can croak and wail and cry like strangled cats and still enjoy themselves, because it’ s really the music that uplifts them.

Well, back in January, shortly after I’d quit smoking… a strange and terrible thing happened. I’d lost my ability to sing. Something about my wind, the sudden shortness in it, the lungs limited capacity and their inability to hold air turned any attempt at singing into a horrible sound that no longer felt or sounded like me. I would try and practice and nothing good or pleasant-sounding ever came of it. My favorite music was no longer something I could sing along with, harmonize with or accompany! This reality would soon add to my depression. Damn! I can’t even self-soothe what ails me with the power of my own voice, because my own voice no longer had any POWER.

I can’t even imagine what people who’ve sang all their lives, or who sing for a living and suddenly lose their voices go through. It must feel like a death felt deep in the spirit, or even worse. All I know for sure it that, for me, something beautiful and necessary was missing and I could feel it. I was reminded of its absence every day . The only place I could sing was in my mind… and that just wasn’t good enough. I needed to HEAR the sound of me, the sound coming directly from my body, my chest, my heart, my throat. My spirit! I needed to experience the colors I was manufacturing through the hues of my moods. I wanted this so badly that if wanting something, alone, made it so, then that wish would have surely been granted. But…

That was 5 mouths ago and I never could get use to it.

I am writing this entry to announce that just as suddenly as it disappeared, I’ve gotten my voice back! I’m learning to SING again. I’ve found or rediscovered my breath, my air, my voice… and this is a HUGE thing for me. It’s like the return of old dear and treasured friend. It’s like all at once music matters again! It’s like that terrible punishment I’ve been under was lifted and the freedom to open my mouth and make a sound that doesn’t hurt anyone’s ears has returned. This wonderful development is still brand new (less than a week old) .

I don’t know if it’s the meds I’m taking for my heart condition or whether the effects of time and much needed rest have conspired to make something mildly miraculous happen, but I’m counting it as a Blessing. Its one more thing in a gang of things I’m finding myself being grateful for. Second chances have been coming my way, and trust me when I state that I’m no longer taking any of them for granted!

Speaking of music and songs sang along to, RIP Michael Jackson, on this the second anniversary of your passing.