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Finding My Own Voice

Finding My Own Voice

I almost always spend part of my long daily commute listening to the radio or my iPod. I usually sing along: scatting with Ella Fitzgerald, rocking out with Robert Randolph, or attempting those strong, soaring notes with Aretha Franklin.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed an odd development: from time to time, I notice myself lip-synching rather than singing along to the music.

I haven’t analyzed this development enough to notice any sort of pattern here: for example, whether I mouth the words to gospel songs or jazz riffs, whether I bow out when it’s time to hit the high notes during the bridge of a power pop ballad, or whether I start out strong, then fade away. I just find that, without noticing it, I’ve stopped making any sound.

What makes this especially strange to me is that I have a passable singing voice. While you won’t see me on American Idol or Gospel Dream anytime soon, I have a soft but steady Bapticostal soprano, and I’ve often led songs as part of a choir.

In fact, I have secret aspirations of becoming a singer. I’ve even started assembling some wardrobe. A shimmery dress or two hang in waiting toward the right side of my closet, just above several pairs of killer pumps that mostly accessorize work outfits. I occasionally ask my hairdresser to style my layered bob into a high, fluffy flip, and I have a penchant for vintage accessories. I like to think I’ll be ready to hit the road if the Supremes get back together and need a young background member to ooh, ah, coo, and sway. Or the Exciters, or maybe the Velvettes, Vandellas, Shangri-Las, or Shirelles. (Tribute bands: call me!)

Right now, though, aspirations are really all I have. As much as I enjoy singing, I haven’t sung publicly for a while. Not only haven’t I been blending my voice with others, since it’s been a while since I sang with a choir or a praise team, but I also haven’t been singing enough to develop my own style and increase my confidence. A friend once listened to a recording of me singing, and said, “It was good, but I was waiting to hear you really put your own stamp on it. I think you were holding back.” He was right, but I haven’t done enough singing since then to overcome that. I haven’t been doing something I believe I was made to do, and it’s becoming a problem. I’ve started lip-synching, holding back even in the privacy of my own car.

I’ve occasionally run into the same issue in other areas of my life. I’ve become aware of a gift, even a calling, often connected to something I have to say. Sometimes I even make preparations to use my voice, but stop there.

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