Day 24 of my 35 Days, People and Me blog. I’ve loved having a chance to reflect on those people who’ve influenced my world! If you’re just joining, I’ve decided to write about some if the influential and impacting people in my world – as I approach my 35th birthday in just a few weeks!
Day TWENTY FOUR… Vocal coaches and tutors!
So as I’ve been thinking about the impactful people in my life – there are several women who’ve impacted my decision and choice for Music, specifically singing. I could talk about all of my vocal tutors (and I had many), and the challenge they gave me to sing – but thought I’d highlight a few.
Bobby Rush: I first met Bobby when I was 5 years old (I think) and had decided to become a dancer. (My sister was definitely better at the dancing thing than I… but I did LOVE my pink “tutu outfit”!!) I think I LIKED the idea of dancing – and did really enjoy the classes, but I think my talents were best suited for another avenue. Bobby, the owner of the studio suggested that I “try singing” and that was possibly the best suggestion I’ve ever received! I don’t remember all the singing lessons, the songs I sang or many of the details in my year old life, but I know that was foundational to my singing trajectory! *And although I looked adorable cute in my pink tutu, I still think singing was the way to go!
Susan James: there was a moment where I realized I didn’t necessarily want to be a singer/performer – where all eyes were on me, but my desire to sing was more comfortably at church, in worship. I started singing with Bobby, moved a few teachers and ended up with Susan James. At the time we were attending a church and our family became friends with James family! Susan was part of the worship team, a talented piano teacher (who taught me as well) – but also a singer, who ultimately became my singing coach. I remember standing beside her piano singing my heart out. Vocal warm ups… songs by Twila Paris and Sandi Patti…. Susan eventually moved to AZ due to some health issues/treatment. As the James’s were considering moving away, they talked about selling Susan’s piano and I was sad to think that it would go to someone who didn’t know the value of it. Through a series of conversations — the Baby went from the James to the Charles family! (*I don’t have many possessions with sentimental value but this “baby” has so many memories attached to it, and I’m thrilled she’s still in my family! Sadly – it’s been almost 10years since she and I lived at the same location – and probably almost as long since I’ve played her!)
Annie Nichols: never in all my days have I ever met someone so amazingly talents and quirky as Annie. I met Annie when I attended Hillsong College and she was paired with me as my vocal tutor. My times with Annie were fun and funny, and yet her passion for music, to push people to become their best – to use their gift and skills was priceless! We sang everything from Broadway show tunes, Jazz, classical (yes, in foreign languages), contemporary, etc/etc. Annie stretched me from my comfort zone and into a place where I was confident to what my voice could do and beyond. She pushed me beyond the technique and mechanics of my voice to the heart of music – to see beyond just notes but the soul of it! We had awesome conversations about faith and music and that the heart of a singer is more important than just skill and ability. Annie was not only my vocal coach but my friend! I LOVE that my path crossed and that she was part of shaping my natural skills into something my heart said I was always designed for!
Over the past 34 years, I’ve had some of the most amazing tutors and coaches. I’ve felt loved, cared for and valued by them each. I’ve learned that my voice is much more than mere mechanics and that I must care, maintain and train my voice — and whether I’m singing in front of people, or just in the quietness of my home, my voice is a gift — and I will treasure it, and those who helped guide me!