My mother always told the story that I would sing anywhere that I was. Especially in the sandbox in our backyard. She called in “Sandbox Lullabies” I couldn’t make more than a few words at the time. But I sure could sing.
Some of my favorite memories are of my father singing. You didn’t have to ask him. If there were more than a few people at a gathering, he would sing. I sang in the “Junior Choir” at our church and I could not wait to be old enough to sing in the “Big Choir” (you had to be in high school)
The only time I sang with my father was in that choir. For me, it was the only time that I could do something with him. He was ‘old school’ and didn’t allow me to go fishing or play golf with him. Those were ‘boy’ things. But he shared his music with me as long as I sang alto.
So I sang.
Part of his legacy to me is the joy I find in 40’s music. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Vic Damone, Nat King Cole and, of course, Tony Bennett.
Driving is my opportunity to listen to stations that play 40’s music. I find it soothing because 1) I knew the songs and 2) I can sing along as a tenor.
When I joined the Vocal Arts of San Luis Obispo, I realized that singing made me feel better-physically, mentally and emotionally. I could be dead tired and not want to go to rehearsal but by the time it was over, I felt like I could do anything. When we sang in competition or, sometimes, in a regular concert, I would feel like I could fly.
The ability to sing again, as a group, has been a mental and emotional life saver. No, we are not in the same room. Vocal Arts invested in a thing called Jack Trip which allows us to sing from our own homes and hear all the singers in real time. The difference in our collective mental health has been astounding.
Nothing confirmed our feelings like the AARP article on Tony Bennett. He is battling Alzheimer’s and has difficulty remaining in reality. But he kept doing concerts. Because, on stage, singing, he was still Tony Bennett. His memory would get better. He connected with his audience and his family when he sang. He remembers the words and the notes that he has sung for years. He feels them.
Singing heals. Something happens to me and my brain when I sing. Holly Near once said that singing, for her, was like an internal massage. That is how it feels to me.
And if it keeps my brain alive, that is just a giant bonus.
And here is a little bonus for you–Vocal Arts in France, 2015