So here’s another goofy confession. When I was a teenager I spent countless hours in the rumpus room singing my lungs out, ably backed by the likes of Olivia Newton John (ONJ), Whitney Houston and Abba. I don’t really know why I did it – I didn’t have a secret ambition to be a rock star – but it was great fun. I’d make up dance steps, imagine my audience and feel (as only a teenager could) the intensity of the songs – Whitney’s The Greatest Love of All was one I particularly loved belting out.
But as the years passed, a few people told me I couldn’t sing. Even now, my family (although loving in many other respects) implore me to stop singing.
Five years ago, when I moved to Ocean Grove, I put on my brave pants and joined a community singing group, Acabellas. Later, with the encouragement of the beautiful musician Belinda McArdle (who runs Acabellas) I started a Singing for Fun group at the church where I worked.
Singing has become my therapy. It is impossible for me to sing without breathing deeply, smiling, swaying and meeting the eyes of my fellow singers. Recently at Acabellas, we have been singing Jolene. ONJ did a version of Jolene and I still know the words off-by-heart. It’s such fun to sing lines like I had to have this talk with you, my happiness depends on you, whatever you decide to do, Jolene while making desperate, melodramatic faces at my friend Trina across the room.
And yet lingering like a dog fart in the corner of my mind is that sneaking feeling that I’m not good enough! I don’t think I’m alone here. One of the women who joined the Singing for Fun group laughingly tells the story of being thrown out of her school choir – she laughs but I can tell it still hurts. Another says her husband won’t let her sing at home.
What is this cultural cringe we Australians are wedded to? This belief that ‘I can’t sing’…
Well, I’m fighting this belief and have signed up for some of Belinda’s enhancement classes where I hope to learn how to breathe properly (er, like a singer) and hone my voice for the benefit of my fellow singers, myself and my family.
Wish me luck! And to anyone reading out there who may have a secret ambition to sing – do it! There are community choirs all over the place…and you have nothing to lose 🙂