LETS’ HEAR IT FOR… um, who?

Last night, I was one of the chosen soloists at work. One thing that I love about my job is how much it’s made me relax as a singer. I’ve mentioned how much more flexible I am with my pre-singing diet, and before this job, the moments before I went onstage to sing were spent pacing, clearing non-existent phlegm out of my throat, and gulping water. But at work, I have too much else to do to freak out like that, and after almost four months of doing this solo, my only prep is to grab the mic and maybe take a sip of water.

So last night, I was told I was going first, which I usually do. When my music started, I noticed that there was kind of an empty space in my brain where the lyrics usually are, but I didn’t think much of it. To be honest, this happens to me a lot. When I was doing my millions of college auditions over four years ago, this would happen all the time: the pianist would start playing the opening chords of my song and my mind would just be blank. But I never actually forgot the words- though my mind was out to lunch, my mouth knew what it was supposed to be doing and I would get through the song no problem. I have moments very often before a show where I think I’ve forgotten my first lines of a scene, but never actually have.

The music kept going and I did my dialogue introduction, all the time trying to recover the first lyrics and hoping to God that my mouth would again save me… and it didn’t. I felt like my mind was actually reaching out for any words I could remember of the song, and there was absolutely nothing there. This has never, ever happened to me before. The only other time I’ve ever forgotten lyrics and was unable to improvise something until I found my way was at an audition this summer, and that was because they asked for 16 bars and let me sing the entire song because they liked what they heard. But I hadn’t sung that song in full for almost a year. I sing Let’s Hear it For the Boy, for an audience, at least once a week. But the words were gone.

“I’m sorry,” I said into the mic. “We’re going to have to start this over, because I’ve completely forgotten the words.” I know I sounded cheerful, and really, I wasn’t freaking out, but when I went back to the DJ booth to ask him to start over, I realized that my brain fart was a little more serious than I’d thought. What I thought was just a weird momentary lapse in memory wasn’t so momentary. When the DJ said, “Are you ready for me to start it over?” I was like, “No. I can’t remember a single word. I can’t remember my song…”

Finally, after what felt like years of me trying to think of the lyrics, this guest that was waiting to make a request starting singing it under his breath. “THANK YOU!” I cried, and had the DJ start the song again. It was still a little rough; I forgot part of the second verse and got confused. I picked it up again and it was fine. It was definitely jarring, though, to have my first moment of dropping lyrics like that. I guess there’s no good way to have it, and still, I wasn’t really shaken by it. Afterwards, my co-workers kept asking if I was okay and, where my customers usually tell me how well I did, last night they didn’t comment at all. But I really was fine, and I think this is another instance of how much I’ve grown as a performer. Where many years ago, something like this would have made me cry, and as recently as this year would have at least made me shake my head angrily at myself for awhile. But last night… yes, it was a little embarrassing, but it’s also live performance. Stuff like this happens, and it didn’t really frazzle me. I think that’s a good sign.

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