|This photo of Etta James isn't mine. I don't know who owns the rights to it, but I don't, and I don't want to. It isn't mine. I'm just passing it forward, sharing it. 'Cuz that's what makes the world go 'round...connects us.|
When I heard that Etta James had passed from this world, it stirred within me memories of when I was a teenage girl, when I dreamed of being a singer. I loved the blues...the way they reached deep, and spoke to me there, evoking my heart and soul. I began practicing daily, singing along with my favorite blues singers - Etta James being one of them. I'd set my little recorder next to me, start the record up, ( yes, they really did exist ), and practice for hours trying to capture that soulful sound.
There was a lot I didn't know then, understandably. Like, I didn't know why I couldn't produce that rich quality of sound in my voice. It frustrated me. On playback, my voice sounded shallow, lacking depth, like it was just skipping stones along the surface of the water.
I didn't know that to sing with soul, we have to bring our own soul forth from the depths of our being. I didn't know that we must put our heart out there, take risks, express the love found within, live it. I didn't know it was I who was holding that expression back, not feeling safe to express what lay deep within me. I didn't know I was the one keeping my love inside me, hiding it, trying to protect something that didn't need protection. My heart and soul yearned to express the love inside. I didn't know that to be loved, I had to love. I didn't know...I was the one who needed to set love free from within me.
I also didn't know that singing into a recorder was, for me, the same as writing here on this blog. Yes, I'm the only one in the room, singing, or writing, but it's me singing and writing with the intention of sharing what I have inside me with you. It's me bringing my heart and soul forth, from the depths of my being, expressing it here on a page, or singing it out to the world, to be seen and heard.
I am here. Singing. Writing. Loving.
Yes, I think back on that young girl that I was, who isn't much different than who I am now. The only difference is now I have practiced living my song. I've practiced bringing forth what has always lived there inside me. I dived deep, bringing back another piece of what I found to the surface, until all the pieces came together in one glorious song.
There were moments, flashes of who I am, peeks into who I would grow to be. There were many nights, when I climbed a hill that looked over a lake, where I'd sit alone, on top of a big stone, under a starry night sky, my heart full of yearning, and I'd sing. I'd sing Etta James' songs, Billie Holiday, Carla Thomas, Dinah Washington...I'd sing the words from my heart, setting it free, feeling safe to let it all out in a song. No voice recorder, no audience. Just me and my voice, full of soul, singing out to the big sky.
I now see I grew into my yearning heart. At last. Thank you Etta, for singing your song, for singing with heart and soul, and allowing me to sing along with you until I found mine.
( video belongs to and made by xtinaroma. She says it was her "first video made with Movie Maker!" It's perfect. The song belongs to neither one of us. We just like Etta :)