I don't recall my childhood much but I do remember loving music. I glued myself to my radio and played my red-speckled phonograph incessantly. My mom introduced me to "the standards" like Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra. She taught me their lyrics and we danced them in our kitchen. We had a long-running repartee about my musicality: "Oh, mom, I wish I could sing," I'd opine. Her response: "Oh, honey I wish you could too!"
I took piano lessons and competed in the Pittsburgh Pianorama several times. Don't know why I stopped though. My guess is that Sr. Miriam Joseph's raves about my much more talented younger brother Stephen strengthened my inferiority complex. But I'm sure St. Bernard School's Choral Music Director permanently sealed my singing fate when I tried out for The Choraleers. After only 5 or 6 bars, he told me that they didn't need me because I was tone deaf. What was tone deafness? A disease? Did I need a doctor? Of course, good little fifth-graders weren't supposed to ask for explanations or reasons why. And I didn't get any teacherly advice on how to prepare for another audition. (I mean teachers are supposed to help kids learn, right?) So my severely shy 10 year old only performed bedtime duets with her Jewel maroon transistor radio.
After college, Barry Manilow entered my life and reignited my musical passions. He had a song for all my seasons. But I was focused on my business career, my business career, and my business career. No time for the zillion lessons a tone deaf singer would surely require.
When I turned 50, I finally revisited my music. Maybe my menopausal hormones prompted me to set creative career goals. I wrote down that I'd take voice lessons. I felt that I was a hard worker and with the right teacher, I'd learn to sing. And so it goes in my life, when I set my goals, the universe provides avenues and options. One day in my local newspaper, an article about the Kingston School of Music appeared.
At my new school, I found some familiar faces. Their names were Inner Critics, equal opportunity creativity destroyers. Fortunately, having experienced their gyrations in my writing life, I had the skills to deal with them. Best plan of action--sing every day. Of course, that meant listening to my voice (Oh, Yuck). I taped all my classes and forced myself to pay attention. In time, I learned how to treat myself kindly and gently and discovered how relaxing, breathing and water drinking not only made me a better singer but a far less wrinkled one.
A year later, I debuted in my school recital performing Frank Sinatra's "All the Way" (thanks for the introduction, mom). When I sang on stage, I traveled to another world. I think it is called an "out-of-body experience." After, my teacher asked,"How did it go?" "Were you scared?" "No way," I answered, "When's the next recital?"
Now, after 3½ years of lessons and daily practice, I'm making my first CD. And my mother (who art in heaven) and I continue our musical dialogue. I tell her, "Mom, I know I can sing," and she tells me,"Oh, honey, I know you can too."