Thursday, January 15, 2015

Do you find your mantras, or do they find you?

I don't sing as much as I used to -- I studied opera and voice in college, and was singing professionally for a while; now I hardly even warm up regularly. But I nearly always sing in the shower.

Fellow shower singers know well why I do it. The acoustics are great -- you sound fantastic in there and the steam feels nice on your throat -- but really, the best part is, it's fun. A concert for one.

My shower concert repertoire has shifted through the years (there used to be more German lieder and now there's more Disney tunes) but some songs keep coming back like old friends or mantras. One song that has stuck with me for many, many years is Amazing Grace.

Although Amazing Grace has obvious religious connotations, it's not the reason -- at least consciously -- that I was first drawn to it. In fact, I don't really know why I was first drawn to it. But Amazing Grace has been with me for a very long time. I sang Amazing Grace for an audition that -- impossibly, as a lowly 8th grader -- landed me a solo performance in a school talent show of sorts. Singing Amazing Grace in that show convinced my dad I should take voice lessons, and convinced me it was something I was good enough to pursue. In a high school experience that was wrought with self-doubt, my singing was something I could be confident in.

I've sung Amazing Grace a number of times since, including professionally as a cantor at memorial services, and three times in 2014 at the memorial services of beloved family members.

The extent to which this song shows up in my life is bewildering, powerful, and a little bit scary to me because it feels like it chose me, rather than the other way around. Although I never gave much credence to the lyrics as a middle schooler, the message of the song -- or at least the message I'm meant to hear -- has begun to seep its way into my heart. I suppose it's one of those things that takes a lifetime to fully understand.

Are there any songs / books / movies etc. in your life that are somehow tied to you? What's your story?

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