A PERSON WHO HAS GOOD THOUGHTS CANNOT EVER BE UGLY. YOU CAN HAVE A WONKY NOSE AND A CROOKED MOUTH AND A DOUBLE CHIN AND STICK-OUT TEETH, BUT IF YOU HAVE GOOD THOUGHTS THEY WILL SHINE OUT OF YOUR FACE LIKE SUNBEAMS AND YOU WILL ALWAYS LOOK LOVELY.” -ROALD DAHL
Taylor Swift said it best before she sang the song I relate to A LOT when I saw her in Minneapolis on September 1st of last year, “… And you know, one thing I’ve noticed in my life is that you can never judge what somebody else is going through. Even if they seem like they have it all together, they seem like, ‘how could they have any problems?’ like you’re looking at somebody who maybe is really beautiful, or seems like they have it all together, maybe they have a life you’re really envious of. But I’ve learned that, you know, appearances aren’t everything, and just, and just because someone looks happy doesn’t mean they are, or just because someone looks confident doesn’t mean they are. And there’s so much pressure on everyone these days to have it all together, to have a perfect body, a perfect life, to know exactly where they want to go with their life. And I think the stress and the pressure of not being able to say that they’re hurting has really taken a toll on a lot of people. So I’m asking you to try just try and be kind to yourself, just know that there are so many people going through the same thing that you might be going through, whatever it is. This is called Tied Together With A Smile.”
Music has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up playing the piano, flute, trumpet, French horn and taught myself how to play a little guitar. And lets not forget about learning how to play the recorder in grade school! I can still play a mean Three Blind Mice and Men at Work’s Down Under. Just ask my sister and nephew! I also sing or shall I say used to. I haven’t done that much in public since I performed the National Anthem at work for an event two days before I had my hysterectomy almost 2 years ago. I have a tendency to rip apart that performance; I know I shouldn’t but it’s a form of habit. I was the heaviest I had been at that time in my life so I felt like a very giant Oompa Loompa getting up on stage singing in front of everyone that day. It had been 10 months since my DVT and bilateral PE’s. It was a miracle I could even hit the high notes without losing my breath. For the record, I also sang the National Anthem for the St. Paul Saints, St. Paul Slam and the MN Timberwolves in the late 90’s-early 2000’s. I just so happened to wear black leather pants for the Timberwolves performance and have that on a VHS tape somewhere. What the hell was I thinking and who let me out of the house looking like that?! Not to mention my very short RED hair. Oh the phases I went through. There were also a few wedding singer gigs for my old coworkers and friends back then. Ah, those were the days. I sometimes miss the old PageNet days when social media wasn’t a thing yet. (PageNet was a paging company I worked for before cellphones took over the world) People weren’t up in everyone’s business or making assumptions about things they may have read on someone’s Twitter or Instagram post. I know I’m just as guilty as the girl next door. I had to step away myself this past week and take a little break from it all.
Can you believe I won my first karaoke contest on a trip out to Portland, Oregon which happened to be the first time I had ever been on an airplane at the ripe old age of 22? I went to visit my friend who had recently moved back to be close to her boyfriend. The three of us went to Lake Oswego Point. It was this area outside of Portland at this very trendy nightclub. I had never been to a place like that before. Being from a small town in central Wisconsin and frequenting quarter tapper nights at Bruiser’s was not the same as this magnificent place. I was definitely living outside of my comfort zone, but I put on my big girl pants and entered the contest. I sang Nobody by Sylvia and still can remember some of the words. “Sitting in a restaurant she walked by. I seem to recall that certain look in your eye. I said who’s that? You said with a smile Oh nobody. Oh nobody.” I was extremely surprised when my name was called out as the winner. I won dinner for two at their nice restaurant which I unfortunately couldn’t use myself since I was heading back to small-town USA the following morning.
That contest was a big confidence booster for me. Once I moved to the Twin Cities the following year, I started singing almost weekly, sometimes twice a week close to where I lived. It was amazing who I met at Karaoke. Two people stand out in my mind. One was a short bald middle aged singer with the group Sounds of Blackness. If you have never heard of Sounds of Blackness you might want to look them up. (They have won Grammys) Robert would show up when they were not performing or touring. It was always fun to talk to him and definitely interesting. I got a lot of encouragement to sing new songs and constructive tips or complements which both made me blush a bright shade of red. The other gentleman was also in the music industry and had been in a serious car accident which required numerous reconstructive surgeries, mainly on his face. He was an interesting character and thanks to a friend who worked for him and also dated my boss at the time, I was able to record my National Anthem demo in his recording studio on Lake Minnetrista. I was told he had ties to a very well known band and ironically I saw that band last summer at Target Field.
If you went to sing on Monday nights they would often record the karaoke performances live and air them on the local cable channel. I know somewhere in my downstairs bin of VHS tapes lie a few videos of my singing performances from the early 90’s (and my red haired leather pant National Anthem Performance). I have yet to get those converted for online viewing pleasures and a bit of humiliation but should get on that. I’m sure it would be a sight to see! I often wonder what ever happened to all of those singers. There was a lot of talent on display in the karaoke circuit at that time. I’m sure some of you may be thinking karaoke?! Pfft! I’m not talking about when a group of drunk friends go up and attempt to sing a song and end up half yelling the words into the microphone. I mean hard core singers. I unfortunately lost my luster as well as confidence over the last few years and frankly I’m not sure how to get it back. I feel its like when you learn a foreign language. You don’t use it you lose it. That’s how I feel about singing at the moment. I guess I always have the recorder to fall back on.