The above the title of my chapter about singing in my book Play, Sing & Dance. It began as a confession that I didn’t grow up singing at home, barely at school, I failed my high school glee club audition and never sang in a choir until I was 21 years old in college. You would think that my love leading group singing would have sprung from a childhood in which group singing was a meaningful experience. But not so.
Following my favorite quote (by Tom Robbins) that “it’s never too late to have a happy childhood,” as an adult there are few things I love more than group singing. Any age. In the past three days, I have led group Holiday Singing in these places:
• Friday at The San Francisco School with 200 elementary and middle school children.
• Saturday at an SF Jazz workshop with some 15 preschool and elementary-age kids and their parents.
• Sunday at the Broadmoor Hotel, Assisted Living for Seniors.
• Sunday night in my living room at our annual Caroling Party, with folks from 3 to 73 years old.
• Out in the streets with some of those folks at that party.
• In Yancey’s Bar on Irving St. (see above)
• In the Crepevine restaurant. (ditto)
• At the Fireside Bar (but only one song because the bartender wouldn’t turn the damn recorded music off, claiming it would upset the system.)
And the places I haven’t sung?
• The N-Judah, when I politely asked permission rather than forgiveness for coming onboard with my drive-by-carolers to sing for five blocks and the dang driver didn’t let us without paying. (First time in 5 years!) Oh well.
But I sure love leading these sings, holiday and otherwise, and have the song memory, word memory, guitar/accordion/ ukulele/ piano skills to accompany. I’m never even going to be allowed within ten blocks of American Idol, but hey, who cares? That is what it is, but mostly it’s not much, just a bunch of ego and competition and trying to step up some ladder that mostly is up against the wrong wall. Because I have an okay, but not fabulous voice, people feel comfortable joining in and because I have no hidden agenda beyond charging any room with the electric energy of group singing. making a moment of people thrown together just a bit more memorable than business as usual, people’s faces light up, their bodies sway and complete strangers will join us in a familiar carol.
What? Me sing?