For this Muse ~ my voice is the gateway to my heart. Through it I can show you the the deepest part of me without taking a single step. Ask me a week ago and I would have said my music was all that, but that was before I lost my voice.
I have had a BIG perspective shift in the last couple of days. Before this week I never really thought of myself as a singer. I felt more like a music producer and songwriter. To me the song was Queen, ruling o’er the land in regal robes of golden prose and commanding reverence from intro to outro. Then I lost my voice. *EEEERRRRRTTT* [Full stop vinyl screech]
Now look, if you know me you know I am on the road a lot. I rarely get sick but it does happen sometimes. But never, have I ever, lost my voice. Nope, not once in all my touring have I lost my voice on the road. I used to lose it as a kid a lot and once or twice as an adult but never on the road. I guess if I could choose a time to lose it now would be the time, while touring with 3 other amazing singers ~ #musesontheroad. Any of my fellow muses, Renee Janski, SJ Tucker or Lynda Millard could cover for me or sing on of my songs. But we didn’t know until the day of the show that I would not be able to sing. A slow-moving cold had made its way onto my vocal chords the night before and was hosting Mucus Fest directly on top of them. When I opened my mouth to speak all I could get out was a bit of a squeak if I was lucky and nothing even close to musical. So my girls, my Muses on the Road, being the professionals of the best sort that they are began filling in where they could. Renee even offered to sing my song Thankful. OK, so that is handled! So no big deal right? Then why do I feel like I just took my heart out, plunked it down still beating on the table then said “ Wait here. I’ll be right back.” Maybe because suddenly without my voice singing or speaking, I don’t know how to connect and share my heart the way I always have before.
It didn’t hit me all at once how not being able to talk or sing would feel when I showed up to a gig. First it was just the heartbreak of not singing with my besties and comrades on the road ,which is - I don’t know, one of my life’s greatest pleasures and one of my heart’s fondest dreams? So ok, I can deal with that for one show (and not without a moment to regroup). But from the moment we got to the venue I realized how important and relevant the first moment of connection with people at a music event is for me. I want to greet them and let them hear the tone of my voice, not whisper to them. Its crazy ow whispering at someone immediately affects your encounter. People instinctively whisper back and/or feel like they are talking too loud and wonder what’s wrong. Or they can’t hear you and that’s kind of important as well. If I am just meeting you at a social event that’s one thing. But as an artist my connection with folks at a performance starts with “Hello” especially if you don’t know me or my music. It’s like being at a *very* important business meeting with a prospective client and having to whisper your proposal to them. You: (whispering at a meeting) “Trust me here when I say our company, Big and Bold Ad Services, will get your message out there.” Them: “What?”
So here I am in a place I had never been, meeting people who are hearing about me for the first time... but they won’t be able to hear me. At this point all of my spiritual study tells me to let go. Nothing is worth losing my peace of mind. And perhaps spirit wants me to stop and really listen for a change. So I did. And as we were meeting folks I would just smile and nod for the most part. I tried to soak in all that I saw as an observer, no judgement. And I felt… weird. Like something huge was missing but I couldn’t see it or even tell anyone about how empty I felt. So I observed that as well… and looked for the lesson instead.
The show was awesome. It was in Sunset, Utah, an incredibly beautiful place with some equally beautiful people. I played my heart out and mouthed the words to the songs I usually sing while listening to the muses cover my parts. They did so beautifully of course. (Secret: The muses don’t really need me to sound awesome ~ but I sure do like the way it sounds when I get to join in). I had some short whispered conversations and they were nice. Still there was so much more I wanted to share that I did not. Where is the lesson in that spirit?
After some time I realized - the lesson is this. I have an appreciation for my voice and all that it does and allows me to do that I never had before. I got to see all the ways my voice serves to connect me with the people on my path ~ and those people are the most important part of my work, my art: where spirit and music meet. I am here to share my heart and my spiritual understanding in an ongoing quest to make the world a better place through music and my voice is the center of that experience. For as long as I have it I will share it with you. And if Mucus Fest shows up again on my vocal chords ~ well I suppose its time for me to listen and, be thankful for the voice I was given and also revel in the fact that I live in an age where a digital duplicate is available. ;)