Tag Archives: singing

Memory Lane: The Sally Jones Tribute…

I was 12 when I first heard her voice. It was at a stake talent show, one where I was dancing with my young women’s group to songs from South Pacific (and I use the term “dancing” very liberally). I remember my mouth gaping open for a good 10 minutes as she expertly sang her way through a song from “Phantom Of The Opera” and I remember exclaiming to my young women’s group… she sounds exactly like the lady on the Phantom CD I have! I remembered her voice for a long while after. I wanted to sing like she did. My problem was I had absolutely no range and at 12 years old my voice had changed from the little girl squeaky voice to one deeper and full of hormonal inconsistencies. I had sung ever since the age of 2, but I had stopped at age 11 or 12 because I couldn’t reach the notes and it depressed me. It was about a year later when my mom suggested I try taking voice lessons. I jumped at the idea and when she dropped me off at the house of the voice teacher she had chosen for me, I had that familiar déjà vous moment when I realized it was the same lady I had heard sing the Phantom song a year before! I was a bit starstruck… and already extremely shy and awkward. I didn’t say more than 2 words at our first lesson, but she was kind and warm and made me feel at home, so I went back the next week… and the next week after that for the next 6 years. She became more than my voice teacher. She became a friend and a cheerleader for Whitney of the extremely awkward teenage years. She accepted me as I was and she taught me that singing was more than just singing the notes, it was about feeling the emotions of the words and conveying that to the audience. She said if you can do that, they won’t remember any bad notes you hit, they’ll remember how you made them feel. I took that to heart and remember those words every time I step up to sing. Over the years, even after I had quit taking lessons from her, we still got together to sing duets, she the soprano and me the alto. I was definitely the lucky one in the situation as she was so much more vocally gifted than I.

At a time where I had no self confidence and zero self-esteem, she was that person who believed in my talents and abilities. She did that for many other girls and boys in her 20+ years of teaching. A few days ago, at the age of 65, she lost her battle with brain cancer, the 2nd cancer go around for her. I know everyone who knows Sally Jones is heartbroken… heartbroken for her sweet husband Bill and her son Eric and his family. I will always remember her for her vibrant spirit, her beautiful voice, and how she made me feel… because she not only taught that to her students, she practiced what she preached. Thank you Sally Jones. You will be deeply missed.

Love,

Awkward Teeny Bopper Whitney
&
Still Awkward Adult Whitney

Click for her obituary and/or to leave a message to the family: http://www.allenmortuaries.net/obituaries/Sally-Jones-2/#!/Obituary

I’m putting this up for posterity. Pretty sure I shared this video several years ago, but it is one of the only ones I have of us singing a duet… back in the late 90s… and oh the fashion!

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LINDSAY’S UPDATE (AKA THE BLOGGING RETIREMENT POST)

Hi Whit’s readers, sorry I totally spaced last week. I wanted to do one more entry before the end of the goal I set. So I am sure you will all be glad to read Whit’s posts without my boring commentary! She’s much more entertaining!

I set a goal to loose 18 pounds in 3 months and I am down 14 pounds. I am 4 pounds from that goal. I have to still say that is a HUGE success for me! To be honest I never even thought I would get close to that as my past weight loss has been much slower.

So to finish off I wanted to share the 3 things that pushed me to my goal.
Set a goal
Be accountable to someone or something
Have a motivator of some kind at the finish line

My motivator is on Friday April 14th, We leave for Cancun. I absolutely DID NOT want to sit on the side lines and feel like I couldn’t get in the water with my baby! I do want to be in the water and be able to wear a swimsuit and participate with the activities everyone is doing.

That being said, I am not to a weight I want to be at yet. But I feel so much better than I have! So I am going to be happy and enjoy my time! On vacation I will not be counting or tracking calories and when I get home I will get right back on it to get losing the rest.

This is a lifelong process and therefore, whatever you start, make it something you can see yourself doing and living with for the rest of your life.

I look forward to hearing your progress it motivates me!

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You know how I know that BoBo and I are related? Because we’re both friends of chocolate:

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Hey errybody… look at all of my manimals!

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The Fountain of Not Youth….

What’s the opposite of youth?  Not youth.  Write that down and then leave me the flim flam alone.  Most of you have heard the following story… some of you several times… and the people that have heard this story before are all going to be like, Whitney… shut your baklava hole… we are soooo over this story!  And then I’m going to be like… Stop it… I’m so not over this story so I’m going to yammer on about it until the cows come home.  Question… how often do the cows come home and is it more or less than once a millenium?

Back story… this past Thursday afternoon a handful of us from the Mary Poppins cast jetted on out to the Summerfest to sing some of the songs from the show for advertising purposes.  I jetted along with the handful to sing my bird number, and we all wore our matching show shirts pictured below.

In case you can’t see it very good it’s Mary Poppins holding an umbrella drawn with a bunch of the words from the production.  Anywho… so I was wearing that shirt.  My mom happened to jet on over during her lunch hour to listen to us and so when the singing was done, I was walking with her when we ran into this lady who commented on my shirt and asked how she could get tickets to the show.  I went on this 8-hour long (read: 2-minute) spiel about where she could get tickets, even going so far as to write down the web address and phone number she could use.  The following is our conversation in a nutshell.

Knit Whit:  So, go to fourseasonstheatre.org and you can buy tickets there.
Lady of Doom and Gloom:  What building is fourseasonstheatre.org in?
KW:  It’s not in a building, it’s on the internet.
LoDaG:  What building is the internet in?
KW:  The internet is not a building… it is on a computer.
LoDaG:  Oh… (at this point she turns to my mother next to me and asks ME) Is this your daughter?
KW:  ($#&$(W*$W)$U(U*($u($W) aka:  The thoughts running through my head.

So, basically, I arrived at the Summerfest at noon 36 years old and I left the Summerfest at 2:00 86 years old… give or take a year.  My mom has been gloating about it ever since but I might as well just shrivel up and stick my head in a vat of Crisco…  If I look 50 years older than I really am, I need to see a plastic surgeon… or walk around with a bag on my head.

By the by… the lady asked me where I lived 12 times in the space of a 10-minute conversation, so I’m thinking she might have other issues than just being technologically challenged and a poor guesser of age.  Either way, I’m guessing neither she nor her magical children will be coming to Mary Poppins any time soon.  What building is that in, dearie!?!?  MOVING ON!!

Opening weekend is in the record books.  It was nerve-wracking, fun, HOT, challenging, and a good way to jet out of my zone of comfort.  Here’s my 86-year-old self wearing the top half of my bird doo lady costume… as you can tell by the expression on my face… it is hot!!!!!

Yep… totally flattering… but all I can do is bow to the wardrobe mistress, Kim for making a costume to fit this body of doom and gloom.  She’s a magician, basically!

Dress rehearsal for one of my favorite scenes (Step In Time)… Only 5 more shows…

PS –  Thank you so much to all of my sweet family and friends who mosied on to the shows so far… even if all I basically do in it is turn the hall light switches on and off backstage.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (not as many times as I’ve already told the above story, though), I have some awesome people in my life… I’m very blessed you all put up with me and are so supportive.  THANK YOU ALL!

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Getting It Down In Writing…

This blog of ramblings has really run the gamut of purposes… psychotic therapy… public humiliation… show-and-tell-the-stranger… but there’s always been at least one theme (besides the public humiliation one) and that is a sort of journal of my life.  So one day 800 years from now, they can dig up my writings from the computer graveyard and be like… what in the world is she fligflabbing talking about!?  I know my one (and maybe only) forray into theater was a few weeks ago, but I still needed to write about it before the “memory fades” and all I remember is that I almost fainted 5 billion times…. accurate number by the way.

I can’t remember anything… THE END.  (There’s an out for all of you who could give a rat’s patookus… see how generous I am?)

I had never heard of The Garden before I auditioned… and at the actual callback audition they had me sight read through the main solo I had… and I ain’t gonna lie… I didn’t like it.  The song, I mean (sight reading as well but that’s besides the point).  I thought the melody was ugly.  I kept an open mind, though, went home and downloaded the soundtrack off of iTunes because everything is better when you get orchestral background and a chic who actually knows how it should sound to sing it.  Problem was… after listening to the original recording (which you can listen to here on YouTube), I still wasn’t impressed.  Blugh.  That is such a bummer… because to sing a song that you don’t like is hard… it usually sounds like you’re singing a song that you don’t like.   Novel, right!?   So, I listened to it on a neverending loop of psychotic and each time I disliked it even more than the time before.  It’s kind of like that annoying Call Me Maybe song that I hated from the get go but that didn’t stop it from coming on the radio every time I turned it on… sort of.

When I was a teeny bopper and I was taking vocal lessons, my teacher once told me that no matter how many mistakes you make in a song, as long as you’re singing it with sincerity and emotion, no one will care about anything else.  That’s always stayed with me… emotion is key.  Let’s be honest… I don’t have the best voice in the world… my high note range is null and void… when I’m nervous my vibrato can get really machine gunny… etc., etc., etc.  The one thing I have vocally that not everyone else has is the ability to inject emotion into what I’m singing.  That’s when it hit me… the key to getting to like this song is to attach myself to the story of this old and barren olive tree.  I learned I had a lot in common with her.  The main solo is called What Good Will I Ever Be?  Pretty sure you can find that phrase in every journal entry from age 12 to 18.

The Olive Tree is meant to be an allegorical figure and on the surface, the most obvious symbol is that she’s a woman who is having a hard time bearing children.  I have thought that children are one of the things I will miss out on in my life… and sometimes that has made me sad.  I have been taught all through my life in church that the reason we are here on this earth is to have children and make families… What good will I ever be there?

Another thing this barren olive tree could represent is a person with depression, down on themselves, and longing for the glimpse of light and love that will take them out of the depths of despair.  Been there too.  As I was pondering the words and applying them to all different aspects of my life, I realized… I have been the olive tree.  This song is a plea that should be so familiar to me… and I grew to like the song because it was a way for me to express my own feelings through this character.  I should note that on initial listening to the music, this was the only song I disliked… the other songs I loved.  Maybe subconsciously it hit too close to home?

I didn’t mean to delve this far into the depressive side of things… but my fingers went there and I usually obey.  I was going to make this all light and airy… like the pre-show ritual every night included chanting the words to the songs aka a satanic cult, then praying the cult away, after which I hyperventilated into my shirt, fastened my glasses to my bra strap (they told me the spotlight glared off of them too much), hyperventilated some more, and then mocked throwing up whilst practicing faux Yoga moves.  I recommend it all… totes a great ritual.

All in all, twas a great experience for me to get me out of my comfort zone, to meet some uber fun and talented people, and to learn that despite almost fainting 5 billion times, I was able to stay upright… and I consider that there thing a success!

Question of the Day:  What do you first gravitate toward in a song (i.e., words, melody, beat, voice, etc.)?  

PS – Some of my family far far away on Judea’s Plains wanted the recording of me singing, so I bootlegged a copy and have uploaded it to YouTube at an unlisted address.  The reason it’s unlisted is for copyright purposes… and I don’t need some random person watching the lump in the background.  If you’d be interested in hearing it (the recording is not the greatest), either leave your email address in the comments or send me an email at whitney78@gmail.com and I will be happy to send you the links.  Otherwise, consider yourself saved!

PPS – Thoughts and prayers and comforting vibes sent to all the people who have been suffering unbelievable tragedies this week.  Boston… Texas… stay strong and know that this Utah chic has been thinking of you often.

I snapped a picture of the stage on the last night… this is the view from the Ram in the thicket’s space.  That there big tree in the back was the olive tree I sat next to…

 

 

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See Ya’ Comfort Zone…

NOTE:  To clarify, the production is just a LOCAL production with local players.  I don’t think I voiced that very well in the following entry.

Well, wrap me in a rotted carcass and call me swamp thing… I just noticed the deodorant I’ve been using for the last 2 weeks (supposedly a BRAND NEW bottle of deodorant) expired in September 2010!!  What’s 2-1/2 years when it comes to smelling rosy?  I’m suing the store that sold it to me… first of all… second of all… y’all who passed my house the last 2 weeks and smelt that stench… Bambi called and wants his mom back!  Oooo… was that mean… I’m sorry… too soon?

In other less smelly news… comfort zones… I live by mine.  I take up residence on a decadely basis and during that time I mostly do nothing that would require me to stretch the levels of my comfort.  That’s how it usually goes…

A few weeks back I got a letter from a sweet lady who lives in my city.  It was handwritten and basically told me about the auditions for this production of one of Michael McLean’s oratorios called, The Garden and that I needed to go and audition.  My first reaction was LOL…. literally, and then the 2nd reaction:  HELL NO!!!  Firstly, I had never heard of The Garden and so assumed it was a play… Whitney can’t act… unless she’s acting lame at calorizing.  I got the letter on a Sunday.  Auditions were being held two days away on a Tuesday and Wednesday night.  I barely thought about it Sunday night… my mind was made up… it was a no!  Monday was more of the same.  Tuesday came and went and I did not magically appear at the auditions that night.  Wednesday… the final night of auditions… my answer was still no.  I went to dinner with some friends that evening where I didn’t mention one word about it.  When I got home at around 7:00 I had a Facebook message from another sweet friend, asking me if I was going to make it to the auditions.  I don’t know what hit me… something like a sudden sense of courage sprouting from my hanged toenail, but 5 minutes later I was in the car driving with last-minute Madre, the accompianist.  It was cold and dark when we arrived at the audition place.  The wind was blowing hard, it was probably about 5 degrees, and no lights were on in the building.  We tried both front doors, but they were locked.  Back in the car, my first thought was just to go back home and forget about it, but Madre insisted on driving around to the back and blast that she did, we found an open door with a line up of people inside it.  Dagblast it, Madre!

I had spent approximately ZERO time preparing a song, A.) because I wasn’t going to do it… and 2.) I WASN’T GOING TO DO IT!  My last second selection, Oh Holy Night… in February… you are welcome!  I managed to get through the song in one piece.  I always find it wayyyyyyyy more intimidating singing to a small group rather than a large one.  I don’t know why… maybe it’s because in a larger group I can blend in with the crowd when it’s over.  With a small group, when you suck it up… they’re going to know it’s you.  At the end of the audition, I got a callback and was asked to sing part of one of the songs from the oratorio, which I had never in my life heard before and so did pretty much horribly on… I suck at sight reading.  Give me time to practice and I can get it down to a science… but sight reading is like if a cat done got their tail cut off by a weed whacker.

I went home that night glad that I had braved it up and went… but pretty confident that I would not be getting any parts… chalk another one up to “the experience.”  It was an honor being nominated… blah, blah, blah.  Fast forward to a week later and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but 8 tiny reindeers bearing the following message:

If that ain’t my name next to the Olive Tree part than I’ll eat my expired deodorant!  I had to look approximately 18 times to make sure I was reading it right.  And in case you were wondering… my official role title… the OLD BARREN OLIVE TREE.  Bring on the jokes, y’all.  I guess it makes sense… I do like olives… trees are pretty awesome… and oh, I’m also quite old and barren… might be a match made in jokeville!

The comfort zone has been smashed!  Bring it on!  Moral of the Story:  Shut up and just do it, okay?  You hear me?  All of you all out there… SHUT UP… DO IT!  End of story!  Also, thank you to the folk (who don’t read this blog but they know who they are) who pushed me to try out.  You all knew what I needed somehow.

QUESTION OF THE DAY:  Are you a regular comfort zone basher or do you love the walls of your zone?  What’s the last thing you did to break through the zone?  

PS- For those who were like me and had never heard of Michael McLean’s The Garden, it’s basically an oratorio (solos and an ensemble) that tells the story of the Garden of Gethsemane through the eyes of some of it’s contents (i.e., olive tree, seedling, ram in a thicket, and millstone).  Of course those are all symbolic and it does a good job of making us think in terms of our own lives.  I’ve been listening to the CD the last few days and it is a beautiful production.  Perfect for the Easter season coming up.

This is an old picture… I have taken zero pictures since December of this year.  There is nothing to take a picture of because the inversion lives here permanently.

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Holy Nights and Christmas Wishes…

MERRY CHRISTMAS, FRIENDS!  From my brain to yours…

Just a crappy video I put together.  If dogs start howling, put it on mute and carry on with the pictures.

 

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The Scary People…

Y’all best quit reading right now because I’m whipping open the self-inflicted therapy session up in this here Whitney joint.  It will most likely be pathetic, bore people to tears, and I’ll probably get the stupid violin out and play it for most of this here post.  I warned you… no suing the messenger!  I went back and forth on whether or not I was going to post about this publicly… and the heck to the no almost won out, but then I got to thinking that this blog was initially meant to be a public therapy session and even though lately it’s turned into a conglomeration of idiocy and silliness, at it’s core… it’s still a therapeutic blog for me and me alone.  That, and I’m sure there are people out there in readerville having the same kind of issues… so maybe my public therapy will in some way be helpful to someone else.

I’m afraid of teenagers… in general.  I’m afraid to be around them, I’m afraid to walk past them, and I’m definitely afraid to talk in front of them.  In my mind they are equal to the boogeyman of my youth or being face to face with a hungry cannibal… okay, maybe that last example was a way over exaggeration, but you get the point.  I am going to preface this by saying the majority of teenagers in my youth were very kind to me.  I had some super sweet friends, so to lump all teenagery people into one big bowl of stereotype is really unfair.  But, it’s like they say… one bad apple spoils the bunch.  While most of my childhood consisted of nice people, there were always  those few who insisted on making my life miserable… by mooing and oinking when I’d walk past or shouting some smart alecky, nonfunny remark regarding how much I weighed.  And that was always the most humiliating thing in the world for me… especially in front of a group of friends or people I knew… because I did not want people to pity me… ever… that was like the worst possible thing for me.  That, and being perceived as not normal and judged because I was fat.  The biggest culprits were always teenagers… and I know it’s because they also have self esteem issues and are trying to sort out who they are and they want to be accepted by their group of peers.  Some of you may have seen the video going around on the internet of the sweet bus monitor who was being called names and made fun of to her face by a gaggle of teenage boys for 10 excruciating minutes of video.  She handled herself so well and yet I cried for her and I pitied her and I could put myself in her shoes because I had been there… not to the extent that she had because I could remove myself from the situation… but along the same lines.  I could get really long-winded in this post… so I’m going to move on to the reason I even brought it up to begin with.

A few weeks back I was asked by a lady who I don’t know and who doesn’t know me if I would sing and speak at a youth conference.  My first gut reaction was HELL NO!!!!!!!!!  And I did tell her no.  But, she didn’t accept that answer and called me back telling me that she’d prayed about it and had a strong feeling that I needed to speak and sing at her youth conference.  I said no again… and she closed the phone call saying I should think about it.  Persistent is her name… but not really.  I eventually gave in and agreed I would do it but only if I wouldn’t have to speak… I would just sing a song and hightail my butt out of there.  She seemed reluctant to give into that request, but went along with it anyway… sure that she had 2 weeks to talk me into the other part of it.

I ain’t going to lie.  I dreaded the day… all the way up to it.  It was this past Friday night and I was literally making myself sick with anxiety.  It was a wayyyyy overreaction, but at the same time I was going to have to do something I had purposely tried to avoid my whole life.  Open myself up to these teenagers… put myself out there to be judged and gawked at.  It was a scary thought for me.  I’ve sung oodles of times in front of audiences… singing is not a problem for me… speaking is.  I had written what I wanted to say… and I went back and forth on whether or not I was going to say it right up until the last second.  On the actual night, my nerves did get the better of me when speaking just like they always did.  I stumbled through my speech, losing my place on the page several times and visibly shaking.  The singing went haywire when my microphone wouldn’t work and I had to start over 2 times and eventually just sing microphone-less.  By the time it was over and I was in the car I felt gutted.  I’d ripped open my insides, laid them out for all to see and to judge and to pick at, and I felt so vulnerable and bare nekked.  I wanted to take it back… make it unhappen.  Run back to that group of teenagery people, gather up all my vital organs, and shove them back inside… never to be released again.  I hated those feelings… and so I reverted back to my way of dealing with emotions of yore… and I ate them away.  Shoved them down into my toes… because numb is better than feeling.  And I was mad… she had received inspiration that I was supposed to be there and things turned out like this?  I had envisioned that there would be a couple of overweight teenagers amongst the group and those were the ones I was supposed to be there for.  But I had much opportunity to scan the group and all of them were skinny as rails.

I’m in a better frame of mind tonight.  I took back my eating by planning my meals for this week and cooking them up tonight.  I also kicked butt by tackling the leaning tower of clothes in the rocking chair in my room.  I guess it was good for me to step outside my comfort zone… I didn’t feel that way after the fact… at all… but I do believe that somewhere down the road this experience will have made me stronger.  I don’t have any intention on saying yes to anymore youth conference gigs… for a good long time… and I keep consoling myself with the fact that I will never see these kids again.  They will thank me later!

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Glory Hallelujah!

This past week I wore a hole in the carpet of my brain through worry pacing.  That’s a talent… the carpet installers have yet to figure out how I got carpet up in my brain.  Why the worn out brain carpet?  I was asked weeks or months ago to sing at a multi-stake function being held this past Saturday.  Of course I said yes those many weeks and/or months ago because I was healthier than Mr. Ed on an All Bran diet.  (Y’all young’uns will have no clue who Mr. Ed is… I barely know myself… but he’s a horse of course… and no one can talk to a horse of course… that is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed!)  I may or may not have forgotten what I was talking about… oh yes… I said yes to the singing because I love to sing and because I was like the rock of Gibraltar of wellness!

Of course, there’s an unwritten fine print disclaimer in the book of the Universe… if someone asks you to do something requiring a vocal cord, you will more than likely get an upper respiratory infection in which you can barely talk let alone sing the week of said performance.  Karma… I don’t know whose karma I done caught but it was someone’s and I was not appreciative.  Keep your Karmas to yourselves, people… or next time I’d rather have the karma payback in which I get run over by a bus… preferrably a yellow school bus since they are obvs made for fat kids… especially when they require 3 people to squish into one tiny seat.

So, anyway… I was worried.  Three days before D-day I had a raspy-sounding voice and it more sounded like a cat in heat when I tried to belt out the musical number… and forget the high notes… ain’t no high notes passing these vocal blobules.  I swear to you I had crud balls/goober clumps 5 feet deep down the ole throat space (oh, quit saying gross… goober clumps are a national tragedy!)  There were many times where I almost picked up the phone to call and tell them I couldn’t do it.  They’d have to understand that… when you sing, your voice is your instrument and when your voice don’t work… you might as well have left your instrument on the bus.  Also, judging from past experience when Whitney gets an upper respiratory infection, we’re talking at least 3 or 4 weeks before the goober clumps fully leave the brain carpet… and I only had 4 days of illness under my belt at that point.

So… we prayed… I prayed… my mom prayed… and Saturday morning came and went… and I made it through my song… goober clumps be durned.  I know I had help from a higher power.  Standing on that stage, picturing the audience wearing a clown shoe on their heads (I had to banish picturing the audience nekked YEARS ago… A.)  it’s not proper in any setting that doesn’t contain a pole and/or disc jockey… and b.)  Just EWW!), having worried the whole week, I felt a strength in voice I hadn’t felt the last 4 days.  Not my best voice… and definitely not under the circumstances I would have liked to have had… but a semi-clear voice nonetheless.  Prayer is powerful… I’m not preaching… I’m just saying.  I can find no other reason for my tiny miracle.

Question of the Day:  Do you have a “trick” for calming the nerves in front of an audience?  I might need to steal it!

 

 

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