(CONTEXT: In the interest of a balanced perspective where my “shaky voice” is concerned…)
I remember singing a terribly sad song in grade 3 or 4…about an old man who stood on a corner day after day, singing about his lost love (“If you loved me,…why did you ever leave me…”) until the day he died.
Now, the thing is, I was painfully-shy–to put it mildly!!! And, even as a marvel at that memory, I cannot tell you where I found the inclination–let alone the courage–to sing in front of my whole class…but, boy, do I love that little girl!….and I love the teacher and classmates who allowed for this reflection to bring a huge smile to my face!!!.
I remember presenting my part of a group project in 3rd yr. university (I was the only person of color including the white professor who was from South Africa….this was the case until my fourth year when I marveled that there were 4–count ’em, 4–other black women in my class)—and, super nervous, I (horrifyingly) got choked-up when I talked a bit about the racism my brothers had faced (this in relation to my awareness of my privilege as a black woman who doesn’t bear the burden on the “black man stereotypes”). Additionally, the class maintained the flat expressions reserved for all presentations…
However, at break (while a good deal of the class was still sitting in their seats), my professor approached me and said for all to hear…”You don’t need to be nervous, you are head and shoulders above anyone in this class.” I don’t share that to brag–and you can bet I was mortified at the thought of how this might make others feel (less-than in our prof’s eyes)….my point is, she appreciated my “shaky voice”, wisdom, metaphors and wordplay (all, in their “infancy” if you will)…
And, I remember university classmates telling me that when I spoke, they’d be sure to listen because they loved what I had to share…and, one classmate who I barely knew who (overhearing a conversation) offered to lend me tuition money so I could take an additional course she was in because she believed in me and the value I brought to class (touched–and baffled as to the value she saw in me–I thanked for her generosity of spirit, and certainly didn’t take her up on the offer–but, was able to secure additional funds)….
And, I remember a (classical music) singing teacher I had (way back in the day) who told me she’d never met someone with such a beautiful voice who didn’t know it….
And, I remember forgetting the lyrics during a singing recital duet, and everyone laughed with delight at my response…and, I remember how exuberantly they clapped when, following that brief nightmare, I nailed my solo.
My singing teacher told me my humble, giggling mea culpa was so charming and real that it relieved all who were yet to sing, because they realized that it would be okay if the worst (forgetting lyrics) happened….
And, I remember so many professional training opportunities where presenters and participants sought me out just to tell me they love to hear me talk/my perspective, my wisdom, my humor….
And, I love that the other day, laughing, I walked into the office and one of my colleagues was laughing a lovely, musical laugh–and when I asked her what she was laughing at, she said, I’m laughing just hearing you laugh….
Yep, that’s the magic of my voice…a voice that sooooooooo many have supported and appreciated….shaky or confident (as it has become in many contexts), I’ve found a way to use it for good and will continue to do so….
So, for those tender souls who were moved–but saddened to think of all the times I was shut-down while vulnerable–I hope this gives you solace….for, my sole reason for sharing the challenge of reclaiming my voice was to let any who need the encouragement, find hope in my triumphs
Until next time, my treasured Terrifics…
God bless you and your loves,