As a child, next to being a professional basketball player, I dreamt of being a singer. Daily, I use to stand in front of my bedroom mirror, flashlight in hand, and sing pretending that I was amidst thousands of fans. If there ever were an available audience, I would congregate them into the living room and perform my favorite song, “Ain’t too proud to beg.” It was as if I were David Ruffin live on television singing along side the other Temptations. But really, I was not on TV; the television was behind me. Instead of on stage, I was standing in front of my couch, which had the capacity to seat four adults, unless my uncle Gilbert was present, then it would only seat three. Although I was standing in my living room, in my head, I was in concert, and if I had at least three fans, my show was sold out. Loud and off pitch, I would sing proudly as if that couch were an arena and those three fans were thousands more. Though older, my imagination has yet to diminish. Today, even though in reality I may be standing in the dining hall, if I am singing, in my head I am on Broadway. The lead singer: the center of attention.
For many people, music serves solely as aural entertainment, but for me music is a tool to relieve stress. While some prefer to listen to music, I prefer to sing it. When I sing, I forget all of my worries and enter a fantasy realm beset with bliss. As I recite the first lyric of any song my spirit, as if captured in rapture, is lifted. As breath escapes my diaphragm and ascends, it provokes ecstatic vibrations, which pass through my esophagus arousing my nerves into soothing stimulations, which evoke shivers throughout my being. For me, more than a hobby, singing is a passion. But, timid and afraid of ridicule, in middle school I kept this passion secret; top secret, because as an eight grader in public school, I had a reputation to protect. Between periods, I use to hum tunes under my breath as I commuted to each class. I was always cautious, conscious that I sang quietly so that my voice remained unperceivable to the ears if others. However, in my head, it was as if I was singing into a mike that was connected to a thousand amps. Sometimes in the middle of class, even though my eyes were glued to the chalkboard, in my head I was in concert. I often toyed with thought of sharing my voice with my friends, but I was pessimistic and afraid. “Surely they would laugh at me,” I thought, “I would be made fun of for all of eternity!” Thus, to avoid derision, I continued to sing silently, rendering my voice exclusive for my thousands of faithful fans, whom packed the arena of my imagination night and day.
As my coyness dwindled, I began to sing louder than my custom. Progress, initially, was slow, until one day. The Day. It happened. I remember it vividly. It was a Thursday after lunch, four minutes before the bell rang. As I did everyday, I sat in my desk, pencil in hand, and sang quietly to pass time. As I sang my favorite verse, unconsciously my voice rose. As the words escaped my lips, I closed my eyes and balled my fists just as I had seen David Ruffin do many times before. When I opened my eyes, I noticed a classmate of mine nodding her head to my melody. My cheeks contracted revealing all thirty- two of my teeth and my soul was illuminated like the North Star at midnight. “She likes it!” I thought. Though subtle, her nod, to me, was her stamp of approval. Instinctively, as if Hercules was manning my vocal cords my voice strengthened and my tone and pitch soared instantaneously. Like plague, her nod had infected me with gusto. To my felicity, others began to nod and sing along. We harmonized the remaining verses in unison; then concluding concurrent with the sound of the bell. How delighted was I that my voice had galvanized my classmates into such a chorus charade! Since then, rather than silently as was usual, whenever the opportunity presented itself I sang aloud, and I have continued to do so ever since. When I am happy I sing to express my joy. When I am sad, I sing to diminish my sorrow. Whether inaudibly or aloud, always, I sing.
To me, my singing is a self-inflicted ecstasy, but for those who listen to me, it is rather vexing. “You can’t sing!” “Shut up!” and “Get a life!” are amongst the many derisive slurs I receive regularly, but rather than capitulating out of chagrin, I sing louder. I am my own radio. My peers’ opinions regarding my singing matter not. Positive critique is not my aim. I sing solely to please myself and to entertain my thousands of imaginary fans, whom, contrary to what my peers say, always demand an encore.