Ever since I was little I’ve carried songs in my heart.
That shouldn’t be much of a surprise given I grew up in a part of the country that presented reasons for me to sing every morning the sun rose.
My grandparents had the best stash of records a kid could hope for and my brilliant father had an ear for equally brilliant music. Thanks to them I grew up with the best of country, rock, and gospel. My time was often spent playing records over and over again, so that I could memorize the parts of a song until I could sing it a cappella.
As a teenager, I became an alto in every choir I was allowed into. I sang my heart out in church too, but it wasn’t until my first college “career” that I was given a formal education in music.
When I finally had the nerve to sign up with a voice teacher, I chose a big booming baritone of a man, who proudly told me he was Samoan. All of the men in his family were baritones, he explained as he put sheets of music in the folder that was soon to become my Bible.
I will never forget the reverence I felt holding the pages of O Mio Babbino Caro–the first song I learned to truly sing and later performed on stage. Its impact was huge.
To this day, whether I am humming the song or singing it, I feel as if I am flying– soaring, crying, pleading, plummeting, rising…all the while doing my best to hold my wings steady in a current of the wind that lifts me high, throws me down, holds and caresses my hysterically pounding heart, and then propels me forward.
This is dedicated to my first voice teacher Mr. B, my father Rex Raymond, and my grandparents Ella and Howard.