Wednesday, September 24, 2008

singing. really, truly, singing.

    Tonight I was singing on stage (duh, I am in a musical, after all!) and I had a bit of an epiphany

    See, I really truly love singing.  I have ever since I can remember. As a little girl, I used to go outside and make up songs and sing them to our animals (most of them were about Jesus, and I firmly believed I was helping to save those animal's souls....luckily, I hadn't heard any of that animals-have-no-souls-theology yet)  And then my parents started playing two soundtracks in particular, Les Miserables and Jesus Christ Superstar, rotating them in our cd players, and I found myself singing along with Cosette, Eponine, Fantine (but not the Lovely Ladies--my mom made sure to fast-forward through that...most of the time, anyway), and Mary Magdalene.  And here's the thing, I found that I could actually sing, matching my voice to theirs until you could barely differentiate between the two.  And I loved it.

   So I basically sang my heart out whenever I got the chance.  

    And all the while, I was dancing, dancing, dancing.  I was singing in church, sure--even writing music; but when it came to performances on a stage, I was dancing.  But in college, one of my favorite classes was voice, and so I made sure to take it every semester. Along with private lessons.  Because, remember? I love to sing!

   It wasn't until I graduated from college that I thought about doing musical theater.  It seemed perfect (and still does): I get to dance and sing, and even tell a story while I am at it (and I am a sucker for all three).  

   But when I started singing for auditions, the whole issue of fear came up.  Dancing was no biggie since I had been doing dance auditions since I was 8 years old, but singing had always been something that I just shared freely, happily; not something that I had to have a number for, and was made to do it before a panel of bored, tired, and pessimistic people.  

   And let me tell you, one of my absolute favorite voice teachers ever told me something that I will never forget: singing is 10% talent and 90% mental.  So, if you are afraid when you do it, then it's not gonna go so well...

   So basically, my epiphany was this: I am just going to sing like the whole world is a great, expectant audience.  And I am not gonna change that demeanor, whether I am at an EPA in NYC and there is just one bored person in front of me who will say, Thanks, Jessica. Next! in about 16 bars, or I am singing for Drew.  Life is too short to be afraid, too short to waist a moment in thinking that the worst might happen.  

  Because what if the best happens?  And I would never know that "best" unless I risked experiencing a "worst.".  I mean, really, a lot of "worsts" are worth wading through to get to that "best." As my friend John says, miracles happen, so they might as well happen to you.  But sometimes you gotta put yourself in the right place for a miracle.  Sometimes you gotta make yourself available for that miracle to come along.  Like, when I knew I wanted to do Broadway shows, I didn't just wait for Broadway to come find me in Newark, DE, discover that I have some talent, and ask me to be in a show.  No. I went to auditions. A lot.  I got turned down. A lot. And then, I got my "best," so to speak.

  So I guess what I am saying is that I think singing is somehow connected to my next "best," my next miracle.  And I am just done with being afraid to do it, namely at auditions.  I think I would rather just be like that little girl I was long ago--singing to the animals with all my heart, believing that they loved and needed what I had to share with them because I didn't know any better.

  Yeah, I think I will just sing like that.  

   And maybe at auditions, to really get in the spirit of it, I will imagine that each person behind the table (which is such a position of power at an audition, let me tell you) is an animal.  An animal who needs to hear about Jesus... 


kathiek said...

Well, I hardly think you could go wrong doing it like that, Jess...I am sure that quite a few of those animals DO need Jesus!! I know THIS animal is always blessed to hear you (and is really missing your voice, by the way...when I sing, since I m not trained or skilled or anything, I usually key in on the strongest voice, which, for me, is you or Peaj...Joyce, too, but sometimes she's too high for me)!

You know what I think about your dancing and singing, Jess! I think God has even more in store for you, more than even you know right now! I am confident that you will have many more opportunities to use the amazing gifts God has given you. I am excited for you!! He has given you a wider audience, but there is more to come. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. Walk on in Him!

Jessica Latshaw said...

thank you, kathie--that is so kind of you to write, and so nice for me to read!!!

Mom said...

wow, really great blog. Almost felt like a great Sunday morning teaching. Like these 2 verses:

Each day is God's gift. It's all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! Eccl. 10

Nina said...

Okay, this almost made me cry...the image of you as a little girl, outside, singing to the animals...and it reminds me of a little story about an animal that I will soon tell on my blog... Thanks for sharing this. And I can't wait to hear about your next miracle.

Archie Mck said...

"An animal who needs to hear about Jesus..." Totally reminding me of Narnia here. I think you're absolutely right, we're a sum of our best and worst, each being brought out by the other (the stage just seems to highlight our awareness of each)

Jessica Latshaw said...

I LOVE Narnia...I wanted to go there as a child so badly! Who am I kidding, I still wanna go there!!!

Peaj said...

Sorry for this late comment, but Blogger ate my comment yesterday, and I was too tired to recreate it.

It was powerful, and poetical, and now it is gone forever. :(

However, the gist was this: not only do you have the technique to succeed in singing, you have the heart and the spirit for it. Something not everyone has.

Also, I miss your singing, too. And you should come home and rescue kathie from having to key in on me. Brrr.

kathiek said...

Yes, PLEASE, help me, Jess!! (;-P, Peaj!)

Jessica Latshaw said...

thanks so much, Peaj! I miss singing in church too--so much...;-)