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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sing A Song

I wanted to write here about my experience singing in a Master Class taught by the incomparable, legendary Ms. Marilyn Maye but I dismissed the idea at first thinking it had nothing at all to do with my food blog. Then I thought this scribing does make sense: it's hardly a secret to the people who know me, that as much as I love to eat, I love to sing too and sometimes the twain do meet, on more than a few of my wine-eclipsed dinner parties--if music be the food of love, you know, sing on. But apart from these occasions, my penchant for piano bars and kick out of karaoke, I haven't sung on an actual stage in front of sober people or had musical training for 20 years, since I was in college! Until recently...

When a friend told me Marilyn Maye was teaching a 5-hour Master Class, I immediately signed up and sent in my deposit. I'd been feeling like I wanted to sing more, thinking about what I used to do, I guess, and here was a chance, a grand opportunity to present two songs and be critiqued by the legend. My feelings changed as I pulled, from a suitcase I'd first carried to New York, old sheet music imprinted with high-reaching notes I could no longer sing. I hadn't given a thought to an accompanist to practice with and when it was too late to do much about any of it, petrified as an old tree limb, I seriously wondered just what on earth I'd gotten myself into or rather, how to get myself out of it. Through various orchestrations too involved to go into here, I found and transposed some music I would bring and try to work with.

On the day of reckoning, there we all were: a schlub like me, in an intimate cabaret room full of pros, hopefuls, and auditors, assembled for a Master Class being taught by the great lady. As each took their numbered turn, mine growing ever closer, I discovered everybody had memorized all the words to their songs and seemed like they had performed them often. That didn't help. I. was. nervous. as. a. cat.

I hadn't eaten anything all day. I couldn't. I didn't dare. And all I'd consumed during the session was chamomile tea with honey, Ricola cough drops, bottled water and some chap stick that I'd rubbed on my lips so they wouldn't stick together from dry mouth.

But you know what? When it came my turn to perform, the old bones pulled together apparently, memory spurred, the voice rose up to a fair timbre. After I'd finished, Marilyn Maye was most complimentary to me, and added, as I resumed my seat, "make sure you tell your father that I love his son!" Imagine?

And suddenly, oh how I was full: full from having had the courage to try singing again as I'd thought about doing, wanted to do, hadn't dared to do, but did, steeling myself to the actual task; eyes full of brimming tears; and finally, realizing I was so full from having fed my soul.

What a thrill and absolute privilege indeed to meet the marvelous Marilyn Maye! Thank you, dear one!


  1. oh my darling peter! so glad to hear this - what a great tale and it must have been such an experience ... so proud of you and your fab voice! xx

  2. As I wrote you yesterday, you were great! If you ever need the number of an accompanist, let me know. I used to manage Mama's, the Iridium, and the now closed Dillon's (I've worked in every other piano bar too!) I'm glad your first time back on stage was such a positive experience. People talked about you were good! -Gregg