My granddaughter, Taylor, sang a couple of songs for me the other night. She has a terrific voice and I’m glad she has gotten interested in singing. It’s a family tradition!
Mother always sang to us when we were little. I remember a song about a cowboy with blue eyes and one about two babes lost in the woods. And she sang hymns. She had a lilting voice that was very calm and reassuring.
Several of my aunts, uncles, and cousins sing and/or play instruments and write songs.
I always loved to sing and spent many hours mimicking my favorite singers. I sang outside a lot- probably for the comfort of others! I remember standing on the back porch next to the grape arbor and belting out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.
I learned to sing in church, but it was in the classroom of Mrs. Erma Lee Taylor that I learned about notes and breathing and enunciation and a hundred other things that I thought were quite boring at the time. She was an exacting task master with tough standards and high expectations. She was also our church organist, choir leader, and my piano teacher. It’s a good thing I also liked her, because I sure couldn’t escape her scrutiny!
One of the first challenges she set before me was to sing a solo at the state music festival. On top of that she wanted me to sing a German song because I had taken German at my previous school! I can’t tell you how terrified I was at first, but with hours of rehearsals I pulled it off. I continued to sing for her, in English, for three years. Choir was enjoyable, challenging, and exciting. We sang a variety of songs and often appeared in public programs.
Mrs. Taylor had an absolute fetish for “professional appearance”. She was always well-dressed and she wanted us to look as good as we sounded. Each year she picked out a suit or dress for the choir and all the seamstresses in town got busy and created our look for the year. She insisted on matching shoes and we even tried to be careful with our jewelry. Her only failure was the “Peau de Soie” fiasco! Peau de Soie is a soft, shiny satin fabric traditionally used for wedding dresses and other fancy stuff. It looks beautiful and if memory serves me correctly our dresses were a shade of blue. We looked great!! The soft fabric suited the skinny girls as well as the ones who had a few curves. The dress was a simple design. There was only one unforeseen problem!! The fabric was prone to spotting. In fact ANYTHING that touched it, from soda to sweat to plain water, left a stain. You guessed it! One of our singers ruined her dress with a trip to the water fountain during a dress rehearsal. Another spilled a milkshake on hers at lunch. Some girls dripped hairspray on theirs. There were many complaints, lots of dry cleaning, and a few dresses that had to be replaced!
I sang in church for many, many years and was often thankful to Mrs. Taylor for her early training. At one large church in CA we actually had to audition for a spot in the choir! I’ve participated in trios, groups, choirs, drama clubs, and also sung solos. It has been a joy to share my love for music. I’m glad it is passing down to the next generation.