I imagine my hordes of faithful blog readers have been wondering where I’ve been for the past few months. Thank you, by the way, for not inundating me with emails, calls, texts, etc., demanding to know what’s going on and when I’ll be back. It was nice of you to grant me the space for some necessary evolution. But I do think I owe you an explanation about why I have appeared to abandon you, as well as my professed love of writing.
The fact is, I’ve been courting my other great love – singing. If you’ve been following my life for the past 30 years or so (or if you’ve clicked on the Pat’s Music section of my website), you know that I was once a professional singer/songwriter and performer. Primarily in the ‘80s, I appeared with several of Austin’s “iconic” musical groups, notably The Fabulous Cooties, Judy Judy Judy, and, of course, Grigadean & Friends. Our shows, videos and recordings are legendary…at least among ourselves and our families.
But for a variety of very mundane and maudlin reasons, I stopped singing in the mid-’90s. I didn’t even sing in the car or shower – two venues where I always killed! However, when my professional change of life began last June, I slowly woke up to the fact that I really missed singing. But sadly, through neglect and disuse, my voice had become scratchy, limited and not at all what I remembered. So I began a process of getting back in shape vocally, starting with a self-prescribed regimen of scales, vocal exercises, and singing songs that I love – primarily show tunes and songs from the ’30s & ’40s.
Like getting a rusty old engine started again, it took some effort, but before too long, I could feel – and hear – progress in my tone, range, volume and vocal clarity. More importantly, I was having fun! I re-discovered the pure and total joy that is singing. And I fell in love again with the sound of my own voice.
Then, as I listened to myself every day, singing beautiful, uplifting, heart-wrenching songs, I began to feel another stirring in my soul – the call to perform. The only thing more fulfilling than singing a song I love and singing it well, is singing it in front of an audience. I wish I could insert a video clip here of my memories of myself as a little girl, standing in front of the fireplace in our living room, holding a wooden spoon as my microphone, singing – and selling – the incredible songs I made up on the spot for my imaginary audiences. Boy, could I work the crowd!
Years later, I still have a secret (or not-so-secret now, I guess) fantasy of being a nightclub singer. Problem is, I don’t really see that as a viable option at this point, primarily because I doubt if I could stay up that late anymore. But it occurred to me that the songs I most love to sing (the oldies) are the ones that would have great appeal to people who grew up in that era, and as a friend pointed out, nursing homes could be my nightclubs. One thing led to another, and I connected with a new musical partner – the Amazing Joe Farley – who has allowed me to be the hot girl singer to his cool, hip pianist at a variety of retirement and senior activity centers around town.
So here I am, once again on stage with a microphone in my hand (a real one) and a great musician at my side, belting out the classics, and watching the elders groove to the tunes! I feel like I’ve come home.
But…this glorious reunion with my singer-self has been at the expense of my writer-self. She’s been patient, but I miss her. So, here’s my commitment to her, and to you, my loyal readers, to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – and come home to the joy of writing as well.