Monday, May 17, 2010

Finding your Voice

And have they ever! From bottom to top, Keleen Miskin, Keri Anderson Hughes, and Meghann Gavin, Tuesday Divas of the extended Atlanta, Georgia, area each have a voice individually and within the group that is unique and beautiful. Their recent well received concert "With a Song in My Heart" performed May 7 & 8 at the New Dawn Theater in Duluth, Georgia, include old favorites like "Almost Like Being in Love", Lerner & Loewe, and new like "Spark of Creation" from Children of Eden by Stephen.

The amazing thing about Tuesday Divas is that while all three singers are professionally trained vocalists with singular styles of their own, in numbers like the haunting "Lullaby" , Gorben, Mattews, & Van Der Saag, they blend into near perfect harmony. Like their voices, their personalities vary and merge through the loose story line and witty dialogue that holds the program together.

"When I Fall in Love" from Fiorello!, Harnick & Bock, was performed with a sense of wonder and realization by Meghann Gavin that brought the tender song to life. Keri Hughes's poignant rendition of the ballad "I'll be There", from Ordinary Days, Adam Gwon, went straight to the heart. And Keleen Miskin's "Grateful", Jeff Bucchino, brought the house to its feet. The concert was truly about finding the remarkable facets of each individual voice and styling and then bringing them with dedication, polish, and a delicious sense of humor in a well rounded package to an eager audience.

Finding your voice was the topic of after performance conversation as well centered around a former student of two of the vocal coaches who is currently working her way onto the national stage as a singer/song writer. When a nationally known vocal trainer, who had also worked with the singer in question, was asked what her chances were, he answered (and I paraphrase), it all depends on her willingness to do the work it takes to find her authentic voice both on stage and in her compositions. And the only way to do that is to have the discipline to keep on singing and to write, write, write.

Same song writers everywhere sing. Finding our unique and authentic voice in our stories takes the same discipline and practice. We write until we begin to purge from our writing all the phrases carefully structured to sound like our favorite author, the banalities, the pretty scenes that have nothing to do with moving the plot along, the tired phrasing, and the endless descriptions filled with ly words. Then we write some more. Somewhere along the line, if we're very lucky, our own unique and very personal voice will emerge, an authentic voice that can tell the stories that haunt us in a way no other voice can. Knock on wood and speed the day!

For an example of a unique and engaging voice already out there on the market check out Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella. This book takes a look at family ghosts both figurative and literal in a delicious romp through solving a mystery, finding a missing treasure, and burying one little know and unloved member of the family. Without giving away the twists and turns, let me say it is one of those stories that leaves you feeling as though you've just tasted the perfect chocolate and all you can say is, "Oh, yeah!"

Another one-of-a-kind voice is presented by Leif Enger in Peace Like a River. This remarkable story about family, faith, and the true nature of miracles is told as though a dear friend is handing you the intimate details of his life as a gift. "Make of it what you will," Rueben, the main character, tells us. I finished this book feeling as though I, too, had been given a gift.

Four out of four star recommendations for both books and another four for Tuesday Divas and the gift of their music.

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