Thursday, July 15, 2010
The Road to Nashville
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This time last year I was sitting on my couch, staring at Craig's List on the daily, unemployed, bored out of my mind, and border-line broke.
What a difference 12 months makes.
Tonight my friend Shea and I will depart from the Nation's capital for a close to 11 hour drive toward Nashville to audition for the tenth season of American Idol. The show's changed a lot in a decade but so have I. My dad's heart transplant was still something my family was getting used to back in 2000. Grammy award winner Kelly Clarkson would go on to become American Idol's first winner. I hadn't even entered high school yet.
My younger self had a bedroom plastered with Justin Timberlake and Drew Lachey posters (most of which still lay in pile on a bookshelf). I had more CD's then I knew what to do with. A strong obsession with pop music and a desire to fit in encouraged this shy young'n to start pursuing what really made her tick -- music.
I still remember the day I was home alone with my dog watching a Backstreet Boys special on what was then called ABC Family Channel. That's what inspired me to take my love for music, teeny bopper tuneage, and pop culture and apply it to my life. My goal in life quickly transformed into being a pop star.
Hell, when I was 12 I wrote a short story for English class about how Will Smith would present the Grammy for Best New Artist to me by the age of 16. A girl can dream, right?
Well here I am on the cusp of a life changing event. Will the producers at American Idol find me marketable and talented enough to receive the illusive yellow sheet of paper sending me to Hollywood or will I be shot down for "not having what it takes?"
If I get shot down, that's their loss. I've been at this for far too long and I happen to know the show would be lucky to have me, if not for my "talent" and hard work put in to maintain that talent then for the wonderful story behind my inspiration.
You see, the doctors told my parents I would be lucky to survive being born back in the day. I was premature by five weeks, 3 pounds 5.5 ounces at birth, and in dire need of immediate surgery upon being born a blue baby.
This has really been a long time coming and let me tell you, the timing is everything. I can almost guarantee the producers will ask me why I haven't auditioned before if I have all this musical background. The answer is simple: the timing wasn't right yet. Sure, dreams are great and all but if I hadn't gotten a college degree those dreams wouldn't have meant much to me.
My love for music started early and undoubtedly stem from my dad and my Uncle Tim. My Uncle Tim was a music teacher and bought me my first coronet (a smaller version of a trumpet). My grandma (my mom's mom) on the other hand bought me my first "guitar" before the age of five. It was a red ukulele that I legitimately thought WAS a guitar. My dad and I proceed to start writing songs shortly after, the only title I remember is "Pink Flamingo" but it was a good time for what I remember of the experience.
Dad was a singer throughout high school and college, often landing lead roles in musicals like Guys and Dolls (he played Nathan Detroit) and Fiddler on the Roof (he played Perchick). He was a singer/songwriter/guitar player himself ... guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.
What got me through my dad's heart transplant? Music. What kept my hopes up during middle school and high school for feeling out of place in a social scene that revolved around who was invited to so-and-so's party on the weekend? Music. What makes me smile when I'm having a bad day? Music.
Music got me through three funerals in one summer (last summer that is) -- my dad's, my grandma's, and my bubbe's. I played "You've Got a Friend" in honor of dad because he absolutely LOVED James Taylor. I played "New York, New York" for bubbe because nobody loved old Blue Eyes more (plus she was from Brooklyn). I played taps on my coronet at my grandma's funeral at Fort Snelling in Minnesota. Music is the light in the darkness shed from life's curve balls.
Lord knows my family has had horrendous and occasionally uplifting curve balls thrown at us throughout the years. That's why this trip to Nashville is more than something to make me happy about my own life. This trip is about my family and all that we stand for. What do we stand for? I'm not entirely sure I have an answer to that. What I do know is nothing would make them happier than to see me doing what I love, sharing it with others, and telling our family's uplifting story that it is possible to overcome even the harshest of blows.
So thank you to all who have supported me in this adventure. I hope to make you proud.