Saturday, November 9, 2013

How Can I Keep From Singing?

Thro' all the tumult and the strife 
I hear the music ringing; 
It finds an echo in my soul— 
How can I keep from singing?

The words above come from the hymn "How Can I Keep From Singing", by Robert Lowry, well known in Christian music. It's a song I have performed before and love, not only because of the melody, but the words itself, especially the repeating question, "How can I keep from singing?"

Anyone who knows me personally knows I love to sing, and while it may come across as arrogant or conceited, I'm pretty good at it too, at least as far as I've been told on many occasions. Because it's something I feel I'm good at, and something I enjoy doing, I try to take advantage of every opportunity to perform that I'm given, and am always looking for additional opportunities to sing, whether it be in church or singing the National Anthem for a sporting event. If I could ever sing for a living, I would totally take it.

Lately, though, I haven't had as many chances. I was fortunate enough to get to sing with some of the past casts of This is Kirtland! on two occasions in October where I had a small solo in each, but that's it since singing in church a few Sundays ago. My most recent National Anthem performance was July 27 in Toledo. There are a variety of reasons for the drop off, but suffice it to say, I am most certainly looking for opportunities wherever I can find them, in earnest now.

Performing, but especially singing, is apparently totally embedded in me. It's something I have to do. The last few days, it's been physically painful to see other people perform, not because of their performance, but because I'm not performing. Again, how can I keep from singing? It's not possible for me.

Last weekend while I was in Valparaiso, I heard the song "Home" by Phillip Phillips. I had heard the song several times, mostly on HGTV for this one commercial that airs during almost every show. I heard it playing when we took my nephew to Chuck E. Cheese's for his 4th birthday and remembered that I had been wanting to find out what that song was and to hear the entire thing. Thanks to my smartphone, I was able to plug in a few of the lyrics, find the song, and download it pretty quick. 

Now, you should know that I'm not someone who typically follows specific artists. People always ask me what kind of music I listen to or what my favorite groups are, and my reply is simply: if I hear a song and I like how it sounds, I'll find out what it is and download it. In doing so, I may find out that artist has other songs that I enjoy, especially if I learn about that artist.

Such was the case with Phillip Phillips as I learned a little about him and how he won American Idol last year. I've never really gotten into American Idol mostly because the times I did watch, it seemed more about making ratings than producing good music. I was particularly turned off by some of the ways the judges would express their opinions when something wasn't as good as they thought. No need to be nasty, but I get it, it was so people would "talk about it" and watch for those kinds of reaction (kind of a sad reflection on our collective society, though). I did consider auditioning for it when they came to Cleveland back in 2005 (YIKES, was it that long ago?!?), but the thought of having to camp out at Browns Stadium just to wait and then have a slim chance of doing much of anything turned me off. Looking back, I don't regret that because I don't think I would've had a good audition anyway. I learned SO MUCH more about my voice in the years right after that. It wasn't that I wasn't capable then, but I feel so much more capable now as a vocalist.

Anyway, I read a little background on Phillip Phillips and watched the YouTube clip from his audition on Idol that showed a little more about where he was before the audition. To be honest, I like his voice, and the two songs of his that I've downloaded, "Home" and "Gone, Gone, Gone", are a style I enjoy listening to, singing with, and even moving to. His story is pretty cool too and he seems like a genuine good guy, not some douche who's let fame go to his head (and yes, the character of a person is more important to me than their talents!). Just a glance at his Twitter, I saw he replies to a lot of Tweets from fans. That says a lot about his character to me just taking the time to make someone's day like that. 

Seeing that, though, definitely has me thinking, "why not me?" Absolutely nothing against Phillip Phillips (in all honesty, I would love to perform with him if that was ever possible...and he can run circles around me with his guitar skills), but more a realization of my own talents and abilities. I will say those two songs, "Home" and "Gone, Gone, Gone", were very inspirational to me, not because they were simple or easy, but because they are uplifting and upbeat. I can't listen to and/or sing them without feeling good and smiling. 

That said, look for some recordings from me. Nothing fancy yet since I have incredibly limited means that prevent any kind of professional recordings. Even so, I do have a good mic and recording capabilities to produce decent recordings. If you like them, feel free to share them. At this point, I have some a Capella recordings of me doing the "Star-Spangled Banner", "O Canada", and "God Bless America" mostly for audition purposes for sporting events. I also have two recordings of the Tenor solos I had in The Messiah last year ("Ev'ry Valley Shall Be Exalted" and "Comfort Ye My People"). These are on my SoundCloud site ( I also have videos from my various National Anthem performances through the last few years on my YouTube page ( If you like them, please share them with people you know. Never hurts to be heard. I also don't mind constructive criticism and/or suggestions. 

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