Friday, November 24, 2006

Lullaby voice

I think my singing voice is best suited to lullabies.

I have always wanted to be a great singer. I love melodies and songs and beats and dancing. I can pick all the harmonies to my favorite songs and I love to sing backup in the car. I fancy myself (melo)dramatic and full of presence. What I lack, though, is a voice. Sure, I can hit notes, keep the rhythm, follow a tune, and, most importantly, remember lyrics. But to be honest, what I lack is tone, volume, colour, body. You have to imagine me, early teens, listening to Whitney Houston (doncha wanna dance, say you wanna dance, doncha wanna daaaaance ...) on my giant Sony Walkman and singing along while my mother tries unsuccessfully to muffle her giggling (with somebody who loooovees meeee-ooooo-ooo!). I'm not a good singer, though I really wish I were. No one would ask to hear me sing, ever. The sounds I make when singing are not heartwarming or soul-stirring or even window-rattling. Even Madonna is a better singer than me, and everyone knows she can't sing. I might be okay in a chorus. Maybe. The whole thing is a bit of a sore spot with me, actually.

My sister and her husband? Beautiful singers. Their oldest son has participated in musical theatre courses and can really belt a tune. Best friend? Could lead her own band. Husband? Not only sings in the shower, but even, sometimes, in his sleep. Tunefully. Me? Once, in high school, I appeared in a community theatre production in a lead female role--but I shared this role with another actress, who had the job of singing for me. Yes, that's right. I lip-synched. More gracefully than Ashlee Simpson, I hope, but still. Oh dear. Did I mention that my paternal grandparents were recording artists? Ok, it was with a Bible group in Florida, but their voices are immortalized on LPs, and I'm lip-synching in Of Mice and Men: The Musical, for an audience of twenty.

Imagine my surprise to discover that the lullaby and I are exactly suited to one another! As I made the effort, in the early early days, to hum to Miss Baby so as not to deprive her of an essential developmental stimulus and proof of love (sigh again), a couple of surprising things happened. First, songs my mother made up to sing to me popped back into the front of my brain from their 30 year hibernation in the dim dark who-knows-where. Where did that come from? Three or four songs that I'd forgotten I'd ever heard pop full-formed from my mouth and into my daughter's delighted hearing. I really like that part--it's feels strong, like family, like tradition, like love from Gramma to The Mama to Miss Baby. Our own language. Second, I found that, at whisper-level, my voice is actually kinda nice, or nice enough to soothe the savage baby--on pitch, nice range, full of expression, and sleep-inducing. Who knew? Miss Baby really enjoys her songs and I enjoy singing them, unselfconsciously, tunefully, and with love.

Just one more nice thing about bringing a baby into the world, I guess.

2 comments:

bubandpie said...

I remember telling my mother that her voice sounded exactly like Anne Murray's - and how confused I was when she insisted that she was not, in fact, a singer on a par with Anne Murray. To our children, our voices really do sound wonderful - with the exception of my son, of course, whose first sentence was "Mama no sing."

Alpha Dogma said...

I own an extensive collection of high quality children's cd. So I don't have to sing for my children. They are worth every penny. I am that bad.