Monday, April 18, 2005

Tonight ...

It's morning now. Early morning. I'm just home from Davenport's.

Tonight was my first-ever performance at Davenport's as one of the WHQODJY (We Haven't Quit Our Day Jobs Yet) singers. I've sung at Davenport's before, but at the open mic. Tonight, I was part of a show.

First, credit where it's due: Gwen (by now you all know Gwen is our instructor extraordinare) pulled off a *terrific* show. The theme of the evening, "Sentimental Journey," was really lovely. Each singer had submitted photos of themselves and a family member in advance, and Bo, one of Gwen's students, built a fabulous PowerPoint presentation that was projected behind us as we sang. Pictures of all of us in the programs, too. A *tremendous* amount of work goes into these events, and Gwen does it all simply because she cares. She wants her students to have the opportunity to sing on a stage with a mic in front of a crowd. We all love Gwen.

So I picked up mom and dad and we tooled downtown, and wouldn't you know it? We hit absolutely *no* traffic. Walked into Davenport's only to find out that the 7 p.m. show started late, because a show that was scheduled *before* the 7 p.m. show, which had nothing to do with us, ran really long, so the 7 p.m. show didn't kick off until 8 p.m. Gwen, of course, is a master of pacing, and she kept her singers coming, one to the stage right after another, and wrapped up the first show in enough time that the 9 p.m. show started before 10 p.m.

Gwen doesn't tell you, in advance, when you're going to sing in the show. She just plays your song's intro and you come up and sing. Briggetta asked Gwen yesterday if she'd tell us if we were in the first half or the second half. Gwen said, "Wellll, you're kind of in the middle."

After class, I told Briggetta, "I think we're probably like 5th, and she's just trying to fake us out."

Nope. We were right around the middle. Just when I think I have that woman figured out, she goes and tells the truth!

But the best part of the evening was how calm I felt. I took the advice of a musician friend (Iva, if you're reading this, that's you!) and focused on my breathing before I went on. Deep breaths in. Deep breaths out. Kept myself centered. So when it was time to go up on stage, I wasn't convulsing with nerves. (And lest you say, "No one convulses with nerves," let me say, "Oh, yes I do." Once, on my way to a first date, I couldn't stop shaking in my car. But I had none of that tonight.)

My picture popped up on the screen behind Gwen's piano (with the *most* glamorous shot of my mom alongside my photo, taken when she was much younger than I am now) and Gwen started our intro. Have I revealed the song yet? "Moonglow." It was assigned. We didn't pick it. But I have to say, of all the songs in the class repertoire, it's one I do really like. So Gwen was kind, giving us such a classic.

Briggetta and I, seated together, made our way onto the stage, adjusted our mics, and waited for our cue.

We start the song together for eight measures, then it's me. Just me. Singing. By myself. Into a mic. On a stage. In a roomful of about 90 people. My voice wasn't as strong as it could have been at first. But then it was Briggetta's turn to sing. (She sounded flawless.) I gave myself a little pep talk in my head. I knew I could do this. So when I took it back to the top for the second time through, I tried to banish the nerves and sing stronger and hold my notes like I knew I could. By the time she took her part over, I was quite enjoying myself up there. And we nailed the harmony at the end!

The crowd was great. The first thing I heard after Gwen's last note on the piano was someone in the audience say, "Yeah!" Lots of applause. I put the second mic back where it belonged, out of the way. Then back to our seats.

I told mom on the way home (dad was sleeping in the back seat) that I almost wish we could do two songs, because the song is over so fast, and then you have to deal with the mics and get off the stage, so you don't actually experience the moment. And then it's over.

But it went well. Another hurdle in my rearview mirror.

Next show will be in July or August (Gwen's starting to lean toward August; July is too soon) and the next time, as a "veteran," I'll be allowed to pick my own material. Gwen always has power of approval, but she's pretty lenient, rarely vetoes someone's request.

I have a song in mind.


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