I have always loved music. When I was a young girl, I received a record player for Christmas. I used to listen to my records over and over again, pretending to be the singer and entertaining my stuffed animals or whoever else wanted to listen. I was Annie and Fräulein Maria and even Loretta Lynn from Coal Miners Daughter. My mother took me to various musicals and plays over the years which made me love singing even more. I remember sitting in the front row of Annie when I was about eight years old. I had on the classic red Annie dress and the black patent leather shoes. I was mesmerized by the orphans, Miss Hannigan, and Little Orphan Annie. I wanted to be Annie, so much so, that I had my hair permed into a curly hairstyle so I could look just like her.
As a teenager I sang in the school choir and performed in the school musicals. I never got a lead role, but I always hoped that my day would come. I am not a natural-born singer or even a great talent, but I can hold a tune and reach some pretty difficult high soprano notes. I came close to getting big roles in high school a few times, but there were always girls that were better, and so I settled for the chorus parts. I had no choice and I made the best of my parts because I really like to sing and perform.
During my college years, karaoke was born. Karaoke was the place to be in my home town and so on weekends, I drove two and a half hours home, to sing karaoke in the local clubs. Pretty soon, I met many people who became the “regular” karaoke followers. In the mid nineties, you could find a restaurant or a club that hosted karaoke seven days a week and these special group of karaoke regulars frequented those spots almost every night of the week. I was always bound to run into someone I knew. In fact, we all had our own special songs and so it became karaoke common courtesy to never sign up for a song that belonged to someone else. We all knew which song belonged to which person and so as we perused the karaoke books, we used to say, “Oh hey, that’s Hotel California, that’s Lon’s song.”
It took me awhile to get the courage to sing karaoke in front of a large crowd. I wanted to for a long time, but it took the prompting of my special karaoke friends to finally talk me into it. Once I hit the stage for the first time, I was hooked. I could stand up there for hours, pretending to be Madonna or Diana Ross or Barbara Streisand and just belt out the songs, one after another. Sometimes I sang well, sometimes I sang bad, but I always had fun entertaining others and letting others entertain me. Karaoke was like the American Idol of the nineties. Long before Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, karaoke meant being the star, even if for just a few moments in a small dive. Music was a big part of my life.
When my daughter was three years old, I signed her up for dance class and when she was in 1st grade, took her to audition for her first play. She got the part as Lottie in The Little Princess. Since then, I have watched my little girl grow up performing, dancing, acting, and singing in her school performances and in local community theater. She also plays the piano. When Lizzy is not performing or practicing, she is blasting her IPOD and singing to her stuffed animals, and anyone else who will listen – me mostly. When she was five years old, I took her to see Annie, and like me, I dressed her up in the red classic dress and black shoes. We sat in the front row! She loves musical tunes and we have both memorized all of the songs from Wicked. She plays the part of Elphaba and I am Glenda. I see myself in my little girl. Lizzy loves music and she is so much more talented than I ever was!
I wholeheartedly believe that music will always be a big part of her life. She talks about going to New York for college and becoming a music teacher. She still has many years to grow and figure out her future, but I love listening to her hopes and dreams and I love watching her perform. This past December, Lizzy performed in her first high school choir performance. When she walked on stage, I began to cry. My little girl looked so grown up and sounded angelic. Lizzy is the music of my life now.
Occasionally, I hear an old familiar song on the radio and for a short moment, I go back in time and remember my music days and all of the fun I had being the star. I sometimes wish I could go back to relive my “glory days” but then I remember my Lizzy. I am so glad that she loves music and that we get to make music together on our car trips to and from her practices. Right now, she is performing in Beauty and the Beast so I am leaning all of the Belle songs.
For Christmas, I asked for an IPOD station with speakers and an i Tunes gift card. Every night, I fill my bath tub with bubble bath, light my candles, and put on my music. I drift away to my favorite songs while I relax after a long, hard day. This ritual is my way of forgetting the stress of the day. Sometimes I sing, sometimes I just soak and let the music ease my mind. Certain songs connect me to particular memories and people. My song for Lizzy is “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. Eighties tunes remind me of my best friend Jenny and all of the rock concerts we went too in high school. “Love Will Save the Day” by Des’ree was my theme song during my student teaching days. Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” reminds me of my neighbor, Tom, who passed away a few years ago from cancer. Many songs hold dear memories for me and I love listening to them over and over.
Simply put, let music heal your heart and relax your spirit. If your life is hectic like mine, take time to find the music and joy in your life. Who knows, the next time I see a karaoke advertisement on a kiosk, I might stop in to belt out a tune, and be the star for just a few minutes!