Updated: Nov 29, 2019
Back in 2003 two things happened that changed the course of my life...
First, I met the man that I would eventually marry and spend the rest of my life with.
And second, I lost confidence in myself as a singer.
Music has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember and sometimes we have a falling out. I recently discovered that what drives me in life is my need to be heard and my voice is the vehicle. In 1997, I landed a very well-paid job at a marketing firm, and for the two years that I worked at that company, I put my music on the back burner.
Prior to that I had put so much time and energy into the pursuit, and music was always letting me down. I rehearsed endlessly. I sent demos everywhere. I went to music conferences. It was just countless investment with no return. So, I surrendered to the real world and to making money.
Those two years were like a slow death. My boss was demanding beyond reason, and the job was stressful. Soon I was plagued with migraine headaches and weight loss. I was literally shrinking under the pressure.
It turns out, I needed my love affair with music, and the chase was part of the allure. I needed to get back to it. So I did. In 1999 I made my escape into a full-time contract with Disney working as a production singer on one of their cruise ships. I was singing and getting paid for it. Finally, music and I were in a reciprocal relationship. I breezed through my Disney contract and after a few years working on dry land, I started working for Royal Caribbean in 2003. I was hired into the coveted ‘Girl 1’ position and I arrived at rehearsals confident and ready to take on the challenge of learning three new shows.
I found myself surrounded by some incredible talent, many of whom had worked on Broadway or in touring companies, and I started to feel completely out of my depth. I was hired for Disney mainly to sing The Circle of Life, for which my Gospel roots served me well. That was really the only song I was featured in, the rest of the time I was just part of the production cast. At Royal, I was the featured girl singer, and the shows were musical-theatre based. I was sitting in rehearsals listening to my fellow singers and thinking, 'I can’t sing like that! I’m not good enough to be a featured singer.' I did audition for this role, mind you, and the show producers obviously thought I was good enough to be given the role, but I couldn’t see it. Once the poison of doubt got in my mind, there was no stopping its effects, and it began to chip away at my confidence and lead to a very rough contract.
I went from singing with heart and passion, to being completely self-conscience about every performance. I couldn’t get out of my head, and now I was letting music down. I stopped being able to let it freely flow through me.
Something got damaged back in 2003, and to this day, I am still struggling with not feeling good enough. I left Royal after two contracts and went on to work for Celebrity Cruise Line for three contracts, with the last contract finishing in 2007. I moved to Milwaukee and formed my own Jazz quartet and we performed all over the city. In 2009, I release my debut CD, and that same year moved to the UK. The 10 years I’ve lived in the UK I have been consistently working as a pro singer, but I have never fully regained the confidence I had before that Royal contract.
In 2018, I got serious about finding my voice. But I think it runs deeper than just finding my voice. I think it’s more about freeing my voice. I’ve been singing for a living since 2003, so my voice is working. But I haven’t always enjoyed singing. I have had many magical moments over the years, glimpses of the singer I used to be, but the joy of singing has been fleeting.
Last year I started to realize I needed to stop looking back at what I think I lost back in 2003 and focus on where I am now. Who I am now. The joy of singing is returning. Getting back into writing and singing my own words has rekindled my love affair with music and the passion is starting to burn again. Instead of trying to repair the damage that happened all those years ago, I’m now salvaging what I can and rebuilding!