The other evening I was watching Julie and Julia and I was struck by the utter bliss and enjoyment that Julia Child (expertly played by Maryl Streep) had while cooking. Eyes rolled back while catching a whiff of buttered fish, Julia’s face glowed with a smile that can only represent ecstasy. She truly found the joy of cooking. While watching this, I thought to myself, “If only I could be that happy while singing.” Often times I become obsessed with the technical details as the voices, critics, and teachers in my head scream at me: “lift your soft palate! Release your tongue tension! Relax your shoulders! Remember to breathe here! That note didn’t have enough resonance! You fumbled a word there!” This endless stream of thoughts make it difficult to focus on enjoying the music. Sometimes the external critics, adjudicators, judges, teachers, and coaches who pick apart every tiny detail of each song, sound, vowel, consonant, and utterance make you so focused on creating perfection that you forget to simply enjoy creating.
Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I simply enjoyed creating. At Steynberg Gallery, an adorable art gallery and small concert venue, I joined a storyteller, Russell Swanagon, for a collaborative show of Winter Songs and Stories. As usual, I entered the concert venue worrying about a few notes I was still unsure on, trying to implement new vocal technique changes, the small audience turn-out, and other such things. Then I opened my mouth and just sang. I felt the warmth, compassion, and appreciation radiating from the small by mighty audience. I felt a profound connection with my amazing pianist Sarah Broomell. I found joy.
Maybe I didn’t make much money from this concert. Maybe I messed up a few notes here and there. But everyone left the concert with smiles on their faces and a cheerful demeanor for the start of the holiday season. I know that I did. I realized that this is why I sing, why I want to sing, and how I find joy in my singing……………. now I just have to work on finding that same joy in my auditions! Well, I think I just figured out what my new year’s resolution will be.