Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Music has been a part of my life since my earliest memories. Mom sang to me and I remember thinking she had the voice of an angel.  I realized not long after that she couldn't carry a tune, but I kept that to myself, happy that she was with me. 

From the time I was six, I spent every summer with my grandparents. I wrote last week regarding their lovely voices. Their talent passed to my father, who had a thrilling baritone voice, then on to me. 


I hid my talent from my family, singing with the radio before going to sleep, trying to emulate the sounds. One night, mom called, “Turn off the radio and go to sleep.”
My sister answered, “That’s not the radio, mom, that’s Barbara.”

My father was an early riser and the next morning, he had me singing at the piano, up and down the scales. "Jean, did you hear that?" he called to mom. 
I recall the first time I sang with my father. He had an operatic quality voice. It was the thrill of a lifetime and remained so over the years to come. I still have a box of tapes spanning fifty years with the two of us. His voice was more powerful, but I could always catch him on the high notes where my voice would match his.


I was lucky to have the support of my family. They engaged a voice teacher with a sterling reputation and my training began. It brought the ability to concentrate, something I had struggled with as a child, and the music carried me away. When I was fourteen, I sang at Duke University for a local contest and received a superior rating.

Music was my refuge. Within that magical realm was the ecstasy of singing, the notes wrapping me in velvet. While in college, I sang in churches, local dinner theaters, and the occasional night club when out with friends. 

My senior recital was the culmination of years of study. The stage was a respectable size with a grand piano. The room was large with a vaulted ceiling. My voice teacher and I had worked for four years for that moment, and she played the piano, smiling the entire time. 

I'm amazed now that I sang each song with no music. I had insisted on memorizing them so I could connect with my audience. By that time, my voice had matured and it filled every inch of the hall. That night is among my happiest memories.

Kith and Kin... to be continued.