You wouldn't think that karaoke could be a life-changing experience, but for someone like me, who has spent her life as a very shy singer/songwriter, it definitely has been. I went out last night with family and friends, and I did karaoke for the second time. The first was a few weeks ago, with a lot of alcohol, and very few people in the bar. That was fun, but last night was a much bigger deal. Why?
Well, there was a crowd and though I did have some drinks, I wasn't drunk. That's not the reason though. It was a big deal because there were a couple of people there who have been wanting to hear me sing for a very long time, and until last night I kept my voice completely under wraps. Even on this blog, whether you've been with me since 2001 or since yesterday, you will notice that there are no mp3s here! Only a giant amount of overwhelming fear and insecurity could keep someone as passionate about music as me from sharing my songs and my voice. So you know that there was a lot of fear and insecurity here.
Last night, so much of that was washed away. Maybe all of it. I did the fun group songs with everybody else (Honey I'm Home, Into the Groove, Margaritaville, My Girl, Que Sera Sera...), but then I decided to make the big leap and go up there solo. I did Madonna's Secret and LeAnn Rimes' How Do I Live. I was actually going to do Nothin' New Under the Moon but I couldn't remember how the first verse went, so my guardian angel must have been looking out for me when the song wouldn't load and they swapped it with How Do I Live!
I've loved the microphone since I was a kid, but I've never really used one for performing until last night. My mic for recording, sure. And obviously I used one at karaoke a few weeks ago--but I held it far away. It's not easy to hear your own voice, when it's the thing that you are most connected to and yet the most terrified of. Last night I held it close and sang like I would if there was no one around. I got lost in the music just like I do when I'm driving around alone in the car with nothing but the radio. And it was amazing for me. It was an experience.
What really affected me the most was not getting up there on stage. It was the reaction to it. There was applause, and there were tons of compliments. It was a big happy blur, but I remember the words awesome, beautiful, wonderful... These words were not only coming from my loved ones, but from total strangers. I've never put myself out there before, so I've never had the experience of a stranger walking up and telling me that I have a beautiful voice. Do you know how many years I spent wondering if my family was just being nice to me and not wanting to hurt my feelings? All it took was the words of one stranger who had no stake in saying those words to me. All I had to do was put myself out there and do what comes naturally to me. And I received that much-needed validation, and I got my confidence back. Or maybe I got it for the first time. I was always so terrified of my own aspirations.
The woman who was running things came up to me afterward and said, "I don't know who told you that you couldn't sing, but you should never have listened to them." That was the most surreal moment, because no one told her that I'm an aspiring singer/songwriter... no one told her that I have confidence issues or that I am afraid to sing in front of people... but she just knew. She told me that I'm afraid of the microphone, and I said, "No, I'm in love with the microphone." And then I realized that when you really love something, sometimes that makes it even more scary. She said the nicest things about my voice. I really felt so grateful. I wish I could remember the exact words because it was very special to me... I do remember that I told her I'd be back. :)
I could go on and on about last night, and I already have. But it really was a major stepping stone for me, because all my life I have been so fearful of exposing this side of myself. Singing was my first love, and when you want something so badly, you don't want to give anyone the chance to squash those dreams. So I hid my voice. I sang in the car, or alone in my bedroom. And I blogged about my dreams because I had to express them in some way, but I have never shared any actual music with you. That was completely out of fear. I am extremely grateful to those of you who have stuck around for this long. I don't even understand how you could be that patient, yet there you are.
I'm not afraid anymore. You've stuck around this long, so make yourself comfy and hang out for a bit. I'm working on getting those karaoke videos to post on YouTube, but more importantly you're going to hear my own creations right here this summer. Stay tuned... and thank you for everything.