This past week, I traveled to New York City for a few different reasons- some work and some play. The best part is that the work and play were synonymous. I had been called in for a Broadway opportunity- one I’ve always wanted, so it only made sense that I give that my best shot. Because I had developed such a great friendship with Alex Harris and Dr. Shireen Fernandez, the creators of Society’s Choice, a philanthropic community of NYC’s social chic, they decided to have a private concert for their members where I would perform.
I had just been coming off of a few weeks of voice rest, having done some damage to my vocal cords after intentionally coughing for an audition for the TV show “Vampire Diaries.” Coughing is very taxing on the vocal folds, and singing on top of damage is even worse. Those two weeks were two of the toughest I’ve faced- having to deliberately not talk for two solid weeks. It’s positively maddening. Thus, singing a diverse repertoire as a “comeback moment” for this concert was exciting and also a bit daunting. Did I have the stamina? Could I hit all the notes? This was going through my head.
Society’s Choice has an eclectic group of members. This ranges from medical doctors to models to future lawyers from the country of Georgia. I wasn’t even sure whether my repertoire would resonate with these folks, who probably have never heard of “The Singing Bee” or even know what CMT is. To my delight, they hung on to every word, from my original material to covers of songs like “I’d Love To Be Your Last,” to Phantom of the Opera, to closing with the renowned aria “Nessun Dorma.” It’s not often you get to sing Rivers Rutherford and Puccini in the same half hour, but I did it, and these guys were a marvelous and receptive audience. They got it.
I’m not a bar room act, and the music that I put my soul into is music that requires a little effort on the listener’s part- to feel, to experience, to re-live the past. What I loved is how attentive this crowd was to go along with me in the storytelling journey. I watched one man with his eyes closed, swaying to the quarter note rhythms; I saw my song “Over You” resonate with a woman that I knew had lived that story. In an era where country music has become pseudo-rock, “Disney-fied,” and stripped of its feeling, it’s great to see people appreciate what country music really is about, and that’s the stories. Plus many of this group’s members, particularly the international ones, have probably never heard country music, certainly never heard my original music, and may be only moderately familiar with Broadway. All of that makes no difference when someone is willing to just go with you on the journey.
This was truly a special night, and I have Alex and Shireen to thank for making it happen. Here’s to hoping for more nights like this to come.
PS Check out the video we made on the roof of the Upper West Side: http://youtu.be/yDZHnDwiwxw