As far back as I can recall my soul has insisted that I sing. Incessantly it played a haunting melody interrupted only by the sound of the radio or someone else singing. Even then, it played on to its own divine rhythm, just a bit softer so I could hear the other melodies.
My body responds to rhythms and melodies whenever and wherever sound is sensed. “Shut up! don’t sing while you are eating,” I remember my maternal grandmother commanding me. Useless. There was music and I must sing. If she wanted me to stop, why didn’t she shut the music off?
There was always music in my home. My father was a musician who played guitar by ear, anything from the boogie woogie to Oh Holy Night. And his father used to sneak and play his dad’s guitar, eventually choosing a career as a Bluesman over a boxing career.
We played records (yes, 45″ rpms and 33″ lps) on my maternal grandmothers hi-fi on holidays and my father worshipped at the altar of the greats: Esther Williams, Dinah Washington, the Isley Brothers (when there were more than 2), EWF, Carlos Santana, George Benson, Grant Greene, the list is too long to go on.
I sang at dinner, at church, at school, at home. I sang everything from old hymns, Christmas Carols, Gospel, R&B, the Blues to Opera, Lawrence Welk, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton, you name it; if it sound good, I’d sing it.
One fateful day, I was letting it rip with an opera diva on the radio, at the top of my lungs and that’s when it happened. “Leah, shut up! You can’t sing anyway!” Of course, I couldn’t sing. My mother had a headache or some other angst and whatever piercing tone I hit must have sounded like a screech to her. Well, her admonition sounded like a judge’s gavel sentencing me to silence forever.
That day the volume of my soul’s song diminished. I sang more and more softly. My confidence was shattered and it took more than two decades to repair it. The good news is my soul’s song is louder and clearer than ever.
Even though the volume was turned down for a while, the music never went off completely. It was merely a temporary fade sound effect. Welcome to my soul’s song.
I am officially turning the volume all the way UP! Come on and sing with me. Ready? 1-2-3, Hit it…