My very first performance on stage in front of a large crowd happened in 1980 when I was a junior in High School in Broken Arrow, OK. It would be the first time my Parents would see me perform. I recall the sheer terror I felt in the wings just before walking out in front of my entire high school in a Kermit the Frog costume with green panty hose and was met with roars of laughter at my then ridiculous state. I took center stage on a stool,, was hit with a green spot and sang “Rainbow Connection” with the HS choir as back up. The laughter turned to complete silence 2 measures into the intro and we delivered the sweetest heartfelt arrangement that captivated the theatre. I recall looking into the faces of many during that song and realizing that as I was pouring my soul out to them, they were being touched by the experience, and I realized then what the job of a singer really is: To move others and inspire an emotional connection to touch a life and nourish the spirit. I will never forget the face of my mother in that moment with her tears welling up, and the look my father had as he saw for the first time the level of courage an artsy wimpy and nerdy kid has to muster to step on a stage in panty hose and rock the house! I had the kind of mother that supported me in all my wild adventures, She inspired me to never let fear or doubt kill any dream I could imagine.
Approaching my mid fifties now, and I still carry these experiences as useful reminders that creating art, music, dramatic performance is important for its own sake. It is giving away something of ourselves to others. It’s not for any glory or recognition, instead it’s a need to help others somehow with the love we have inside for meaningful expression, love, joy, happiness, and connection to others that cause us to take the risks and expose our souls in such a public way.
The artist is a healer of imagination and the mender of dreams. Art is spirit therapy, medication for the soul, and therefore necessary in hospitals and healthcare systems.