This week I did a guest-post for my new choir on why I love to sing. Now pinching it back for my own bloggety 🙂
There are many ways in which I love to sing. Laaaaaaaaaaaaa! I love pretending to be a rock star and singing Here I go again on my own in my best gravelly stadium voice. I love singing along with my vinyl records and wondering if I’ll ever sing in a low-lit smoky jazz bar, with a double-bass, trombone and accordion playing along. I love Eva Cassidy’s Tennessee Waltz and wish I could sing it more beautifully, and I wish I could reach both the low notes and the high notes in the same key of All The Things You Are. My colleague from years ago at work still reminds me that I used to sing out loud with my headphones on all the flipping time, in our oh-so-silent office. I’m sure it was endearing.
Most of all, I like to sing with other people. 50 Yorkshire lads and lasses crammed into a tiny pub, drinking ale and bellowing out Sheffield Carols is one of my most precious experiences ever. I lose it laughing at that excruciating thing at weddings where everyone feels too awkward to sing properly, and we all fail to meet the high notes and fall down an octave at various points. I’m a firm believer that you should sing with gusto in such situations even if you are tone deaf.
There is something about harmony which is just magic to me – I have always adored it. Learning to sing a harmony and clashing all over the place until it comes together and sounds perfect – amazing. Listening live to close harmony singers sends me into a dream – I just love it. That’s one reason why I’m finding the Pink Singers choir such a treat.
At rehearsals, when we have some bars rest and the tenors and basses sing, I often just want to stop and listen for the rest of the song. There’s a part in Eric Whitacre’s exquisite Seal Lullaby – a song featuring in our upcoming concert, Sing! – where the basses sing “Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow”, which makes me melt every single time.
I don’t have a great voice. It’s ok, but I’m never going to be wowing the crowds with my haunting solos. Somehow I got into the Soprano section of the Pinkies despite my high notes in the audition sounding – to my ears – like a bat trying to play the oboe.
I’m naturally a fun singer, so I’ve totally fallen for our upbeat songs like Bonnie Tyler’s Holding out for a Hero and L-O-V-E. I guess in those I can act like someone else, so it feels like I can perform. I also like to laugh. A lot. So I enjoy the giggles as one person yet again sings in the unexpected rest, or we flail trying to find the harmony for several bum notes. (It will be alright on the night, promise!). But I’m also finding some of the slower songs just gorgeous to be a part of – for example, Never Walk Alone I found hard to start with, but now I find it so poignant and beautiful.
And then there’s the emotion of singing. There is something in raising your voice in song that awakens and releases emotion in an incredible way. Often, it is emotion that I didn’t know was there, and then it becomes so powerful. The week my Grandad died, I was in the musical Singin’ in the Rain. I could hold it together and give a performance, but in the vocal warm up when I was just singing as me, my heart just fell out every night. And for six months afterwards, every week I went to church to sing, the words would fail me after a couple of phrases, and I would just cry. It wasn’t the words I was singing that did it, it was the act of sending your heart out in the form of music. There is healing in the emotion of singing, I’m sure of it. There is that magic in music – the magic that bonds people who sing together, the magic that envelops the listener too and makes them part of the whole. There’s something spiritual in it, there’s a lot of love in it; there’s a lot of recognising frailty and choosing beauty.
There is also a lot of fun. I’m so glad to have joined a beautiful choir so I get to be a part of this magic so often.
Not the reason for this post, but I feel now is an appropriate time to shamelessly plug our concert ‘Sing!’ – at Cadogan Hall on 14 January. Tickets available here