A Singer’s Lament /Written by Janice Tindle
I miss singing. When I was growing up, my mother, a professional soloist, would play arias and the standards. My grandfather, a gregarious Italian who lived next door, would play opera, jazz, blues, swing, big band and all the crooners. My music was rock and pop. So I was exposed to a lot of different venues. I learned to love them all for what they brought into my soul. Watching my grandfather cry listening to Caruso and dancing to Benny Goodman was the window to his soul. Listening to my mother’s lilt and phrasing gave me a rich education on what a singer can do. A singer has the power to evoke emotion inside another’s heart while fulfilling their own desire to create a venue for their own passion, life experience and freedom of expression. The voice is the perfect instrument. You can take it with you wherever you go. With singing and only your heart to guide you, there is no end to the possibilities.
I knew I wanted to be a song stylist. I loved the way the words swirled around in my mouth. I loved to form the notes “up into the mask”, and feel them resonate in my face. I got high on the rise and fall of breathing through a song, feeling it swell inside my soul so that I could hardly contain my joy.
To sing a song for the first time is like riding a rollercoaster, you don’t know how it is going to thrill you until the end and the rush is incredible. To sing an old favorite is like holding an old friend, warm, safe and easy. It didn’t matter if it was on the stage or home alone, singing was my passion, my constant companion, my teller of tales, my heart’s desire, my fantasy and reality. Singing was ME thoroughly and completely, ME. I sang when I showered, I sang when I cooked, I sang when I gardened and sang when I sewed. When I walked, I sang to myself. Before I went to sleep at night, I sang in my head. I couldn’t imagine my life without it. But there is no greater feeling than to sing to God. I think that is the most special, when the tears would form and the satisfaction was complete. To feel the closeness and love in spiritual singing is like no other. And you don’t have to be a good singer to praise God. But, I miss MY voice. It makes me tear up to say that because it was so much of who I was, who I still long to be.
I think of Julie Andrews, who lost her voice to a botched throat surgery, and Linda Ronstadt who lost hers to Parkinson’s. And for most singer’s, there comes a time when you feel yourself “start to slip”. I remember Beverly Sills retiring while she still sounded magnificent. But I still had a lot of singing left to do. Three years ago, after a traumatic brain injury, I lost my ability to sing with any substance.
Even though I still try every day, the voice is not what it was, because I am not what I was. And personality is so much of what a singer is or is not. The “colors” in my voice are gone. The notes are less than ordinary. The soul of my singing is absent. And so is that wonderful release of thrilling joyousness.
So much of singing involves your whole being. You use every part of yourself. Mostly, a song is born in your brain. Right now, I can not conceive a single note that is not disabled in some way. Where there once was a fire, there is now only gray ash.
But sometimes in the ashes an ember still burns.
I will keep trying. No matter how lack lustre it feels. I will never give up. I will never give up. Never.